Tablet devices like Apple’s iPad series aren’t as small and easily-handled as the iPhone, iPod Touch, or the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita. Nevertheless, the iPad’s large touchscreen makes for an interactive experience that’s not possible with the iOS family’s smaller displays. Creative and educational games and Apps particularly thrive on the iPad for this reason, which makes it easy to recommend ten must-plays for kids.
Cut the Rope HD — Cut the Rope is a physics-based puzzle game that challenges kids to feed an adorable monster lots of candy. The candy, however, is bound up in ropes that must be cut at just the right angle for the deliciousness to drop/swing/rise into the monster’s mouth. There are also plenty of traps that are waiting to steal or smash the candy, and make the monster sad. It’s inadvisable to make monsters sad.
Playtime Theater — Playtime Theater is an App that lets kids set up and “stage” their own puppet show. The App is pre-loaded with sets, sound effects, characters, and costumes. Shows can be recorded, then shared.
Pac-Man for iPad — Wakka wakka. Pac-Man for iPad is pretty much what it sounds like. The arcade classic is just as appealing today as it was in the ’80s, and any player of any age will fall helplessly in love with its simple concept. Moreover, playing the game on an iPad is a bit more clean and pleasant than lugging around an arcade cabinet that’s been scarred by cigarette burns.
Scrabble for iPad — One major advantage the iPad has over the iPhone and iPod Touch is that its big screen makes it the ideal place for electronic replicas of board games. That goes double for Scrabble, which has found a huge audience on the iPad thanks to the convenience of a “game board” that won’t leak little wooden tiles everywhere. It’s perfect for the car, and the ability to challenge friends via a Facebook connection makes it a winner at home, too.
X Plane 9 — Kids fall in love with planes as easily as rabbits fall in love with each other. X Plane 9 is a flight simulator that’s must-have for kids who aspire to be pilots. Using the iPad, X Plane 9 lets the player fly through every imaginable sort of weather condition, including storms, blizzards, turbulence, and even nice, sunny days. The game may be a bit complex for younger children, but those who desire to be in the sky will take to it immediately.
Kid Art — Kid Art was formulated with the younger iPad user in mind, but it’s still a pleasingly in-depth paint program. Kids can draw freely, or they can doodle on themed backgrounds. Drawings can be saved and shared, and most importantly, even the youngest child can use the app with a minimum of parental intervention.
Glow Hockey 2 — The iPad is the go-to platform for simulated air hockey games. Cool-looking titles like Glow Hockey 2 are as good as it gets when a real table isn’t in range. Heck, the simulated experience may even be better: for one thing, the puck won’t jump from the surface and smash anyone’s knuckles. For another, kids can play Glow Hockey 2 against the computer if a friend isn’t within easy reach.
Star Walk — Star Walk is a wonderful App that unfurls a real-time display of stars and constellations on your iPad. Kids can also discover what time the sun and moon will rise and set, and they can look up all manner of planets and heavenly bodies in the App’s star atlas. City-dwellers who have their view of the stars obstructed by light pollution will find it especially compelling, but Star Walk is an overall good choice for any kid who thinks that stars are “a bunch of fireflies that flew too high and got caught in that black, inky stuff.”
Touch Pets Dogs 2 — Touch Pets Dogs 2 is a pet simulator that lets kids feed, play with, and groom their very own dog. Alternatively, they can make the dog perform tricks and wear crazy-looking accessories. A virtual dog will take it; a real dog would run away from home and change his name.
Chuzzle — Chuzzle is another Match-3 winner from PopCap Games. The game plays similarly to Bejeweled, but kids match up little furball creatures called “Chuzzles” instead of jewels. Even the best puzzle game can be improved with sentient Koosh balls.