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The right app can mean the difference between waiting in your vet's lobby with a quiet, smiling child engrossed in your phone or tablet instead of one that's fussy, bored, and unhappy. The hard part is figuring out which of all the apps out there are the best for your kid, but we've done the legwork for you!
WWF Together This winner of the 2013 Apple Design Award at the Worldwide Developers Conference is an app-must for any animal lover who has an iPad. The photography and graphics are beautiful, and while it contains a vast amount of information, it is easy to navigate and never overwhelming. Users have the option to explore the habitats, threats, and educational facts for a variety of animals, or browse videos and photographs. And the origami representations of each animal that transition from one section of the app to the next are engaging and lovely. Whether you’re big or small, we challenge you to not get lost in this app. Price: Free Age: All ages Device: iPad
PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit This inventive and interactive digital pop-up book is enjoyable for all ages. Choose the “Read to me” option for smaller kids — be sure to touch the leaves and animals, pop the blackberries, pull the tabs and tilt the screen. But don't assume that one reading of the story will reveal everything this app has in store; each time you return to this unique take on a pop-up book you’re sure to find a new surprise. And be sure to download The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and The Night Before Christmas as well. Price: $4.99 Age: All ages Device: iPhone and iPad
Peekaboo Barn This touch-and-see educational game is so easy to use that even the smallest of hands can play along. When the red barn shakes, it means there is a new animal to discover. Little ones can touch the screen to open the barn doors and see inside. The animals make noises and a little voice tells you what kind of animal you’re looking at. Touch the barn again and the doors close and the whole process starts over with the next animal. Bonus: At the end there's a special surprise! Price: $1.99 (although there is also a Lite version, which is free) Age: 6 months and up Device: iPhone and iPad
Avokiddo Emotions This app is silly and fun for children of all ages (yes, even grown up kids like you). Choose an animal (giraffe, zebra, or sheep) and dress them up in different outfits and accessories and watch as the animals’ emotions change. Place certain items on the creatures to unlock special scenes such as a Mexican fiesta or a beach. Users can access different items by switching a lever on the right side of the screen. With this app you can let the animals — and your imagination — run wild! Price: $1.99 Age: Any age Device: iPhone and iPad
National Geographic Kids Marine Missions While your child captains the boat and directs the mission, Jacques the hermit crab instructs about marine life and the environment. The missions include games about tidal waves, whirlpools, and more, and kids can even build their own sea creatures. The app also offers fun and useful facts about the ocean that parents can teach their children. Price: Free Age: 3-6 years Device: iPad
My Horse This app teaches older children what it takes to raise and take care for a horse — without actually having to own the real thing. Enter your horse (or horses, as you acquire more) into competitions, but before you do, make sure they are properly trained, fed, bathed, and cared for by going through the training sessions and chores that are required for keeping your horse happy, and you winning! Price: Free Age: 5 and up Device: iPhone and iPad
The Sandra Boynton Collection Almost every kid has read the books by Sandra Boynton, but now your child can enjoy Boyton's charming books in these interactive digital versions. In Barnyard Dance you can play the cow’s fiddle, in Moo, Baa, La La La! users can hear the unique animal noises of each creature, in The Going to Bed Book kids can steam up the screen with fog and turn on and off the water, and finally in Blue Hat, Green Hat you can dress the animals, open and close drawers, and tilt the screen to let items fall and move around. We can’t get enough of Boyton's adorable drawings and clever rhymes — and our kids can't either! Price: $3.99 each Age: Any age Device: iPhone and iPad
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