The Best Free Android Apps for Kids

Great Android apps for kids that won't cost you a dime

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get fun or educational Android apps perfect for your kid. In fact, you can get an amazing amount of cool content without spending a dime. But it is important to note that some so-called free apps have in-app purchases that can end up costing more than a paid app for the unsuspecting.

The apps chosen here include completely-free apps, ad-supported apps and apps that use the 'freemium' model of a free download and in-app purchases, but none of them use unsavory practices to trick kids (or adults) into buying them and all of these apps offer great content without spending money on any in-app purchases.

Note: If your younger kiddo is going to be the primary user of the device, you may want to look at Applock or similar apps to help childproof your Android device.

01
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PBS Kids Games

Screenshot of PBS Kids Games

Younger kids will enjoy the PBS games that contain many of their favorite characters like Daniel Tiger and the Sesame Street gang. And as you might expect from PBS, many of the games have an educational theme, so your kid is learning while they are having fun.  

  • Best for ages: 3-6
  • Parents should know: PBS Kids Games is completely free with no in-app purchases or advertisements, so you don't have to worry about what your young one is getting into while playing the games.
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Kids Doodle

Doodle Joy Studio

Let's not forget old-fashioned creativity.  Kids Doodle is what you would expect from the name: an app that lets kids doodle on their tablet with their own drawings. Children can pick from a variety of pencil types capable of drawing straight lines, dashed lines, dotted lines and lines made up of stars among other variations. All of these come in a variety of colors, and while ad-supported, the advertisements aren't so in-your-face as with some other apps.

  • Best for ages: 3-8
  • Parents should know: Great for younger kids, older kids that love to draw may be more interested in Draw Something, which is a multiplayer guess-what-I-am-drawing game that is fun for kids and parents alike.
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Moose Math

Screenshot of Moose Math

One of the great things about younger kids is their ability to be entertained by things that are educational. This combination becomes tougher to pull off as kids get older, but for our younger kids, games can be a great way to learn subjects like math. Moose Math is provides entertaining characters and fun games combined with basic math questions to let our kids laugh their way towards learning arithmetic.

  • Best for ages: 4-6
  • Parents should know: Moose Math contains Common Core Standards and includes a parents section to see how well your kid is doing.
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YouTube Kids

Google, Inc.

YouTube is a great source for both educational and entertainment videos, but it isn't exactly kid-friendly. Not by a long shot. That's what makes YouTube Kids so great: Your child can get the best parts of YouTube without you worrying about what they are watching. The app includes a search feature that has voice support, so younger children can just say what they want to watch, and the ability to turn off search completely, so you can limit what your kid is watching.

  • Best for ages: 5-12
  • Parents should know: YouTube Kids does contain "unpacking" and "let's play" videos that feature kids playing with toys. This can lead to kids begging for toys, so if you are looking for an alternative to kids programming because of commercials, YouTube Kids might not be the right fit.
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Duolingo

Screenshot of Duolingo

Schools are introducing foreign languages at earlier and earlier ages, with some schools adopting dual language immersion programs for kids as young as kindergarteners. Whether your child is learning a language in school or you simply want them to learn one at home, Duolingo is the perfect app. In fact, it may be the perfect app for you to learn a new language alongside your kid, as Duolingo is great for almost any age.

  • Best for ages: 6-99
  • Parents should know: Duolingo does require some reading, but for level 1 and 2 readers, this may prove an opportunity to practice both English and a second language. Duolingo does have an advertisement between lessons to help pay for it and offers in-app purchases.
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ROBLOX

Screenshot of ROBLOX

ROBLOX is Minecraft for kids who have grown bored with Minecraft.  Heavier on the social side, ROBLOX can be a difficult game for parents (and younger kids) to understand. Essentially, it is a massively multiplayer game of user-created games that can range from puzzle games to social simulation games. The game is free with an in-game currency that can be purchased for real world dollars to buy accessories or additional perks.

As you might expect, ROBLOX has a lot of parental controls, including chat restrictions for kids younger the 13 and the ability for parents to turn off chat completely. 

  • Best for ages: 8-12+
  • Parents should know: Kids as young as 6 can enjoy the game, although they may not understand how to play the more difficult games. As a social game, parents may want to monitor what younger kids are doing in the game.
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Pokemon Go

Image by Pixabay

The Pokemon Go craze ensnared both kids and adults last year and helped put "augmented reality" on the map. Augmented reality has been around for years now, but it was mostly used in apps like star gazers that use a device's camera to point out the actual location of stars. Pokemon Go combines the idea of collecting Pokemon with real world locations where you can only 'see' the Pokemon by using a smartphone or tablet. And while the craze has died down a little in the last year, it is still going quite strong.

  • Best for ages: 8-12
  • Parents should know: Pokemon Go is played away from the home in places like restaurants and parks. This free app contains in-app purchases.
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Khan Academy

Screenshot of Khan Academy

This app is no doubt more exciting for parents than kids, but it can definitely be put in that must-have category of free Android apps.  Khan Academy is basically free education. The app contains videos and lessons ranging from elementary school math to physics and beyond.

Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks when helping your kid out with homework is understanding the work. Let's face it, for most of us, it's been a while since we were in school. So as our kids get into more advanced stuff, it can be helpful to have a helping hand. Khan Academy can both help teach your child lessons or help teach you lessons so you can teach your child.

  • Best for ages: 4-18+
  • Parents should know: Khan Academy is a free education initiative that is available as both an app and on the web at www.khanacademy.org.