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Best iPad games for kids

We've got a list of age-appropriate iPad games for all age ranges.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a dialed-down version of New Horizons, but still fun to play.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Between remote learning, staying in touch with family and friends, and generally staying entertained, screen time among kids has risen since the onset of the pandemic. And if you're looking for kid-friendly games, you might not know where to start -- how can you be sure what's safe and age-appropriate? 

We've got you covered with a list of the 30 best iPad games for kids, with Apple's age rating for each (scroll further down for games for older kids, even though a lot of the games rated age 4 and up would be fun for kids of all ages). Some, but not all, of these iPad games are available as part of Apple's gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade. Others are available to download free or for a price in the App Store.

Ages 4 and up

Monument Valley

Price: $4

Ustwo

In Monument Valley, you must help Princess Ida on a mission through Monument Valley -- a world of mazes, crow people and strange, impossible structures. The game uses the way you interact with the environment to play with perspective and reveal pathways. The artwork is also absolutely beautiful. 

If you like this one, the studio has a sequel -- Monument Valley 2 ($5) -- which stands on its own as an original story and takes a step forward as a more sophisticated narrative and style. In this one, you must guide Ro and her child through Monument Valley. 

Way of the Turtle

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Shelby Brown/CNET

Way of the Turtle is a cute, colorful, single-player platform game. Navigate a beach obstacle course and gather coins while avoiding traps. As you continue, you'll earn shells that give you more abilities. The only trouble is that Mr. Turtle never stops moving, which might make him difficult to maneuver sometimes. 

Fledgling Heroes

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple Arcade

Take to the skies as Biscuit the Brave, a young macaw, in this tropical platform game. Tapping the screen makes Biscuit fly. Too much tapping sends the macaw too high, while not enough tapping drops him too low. You must maintain the right altitude to avoid enemies and obstacles while collecting coins. As you explore more islands, you'll learn tricks and meet different characters including Penny the Penguin, who wants to be a pirate. 

Read more: The 10 best iPad apps of the past decade

Crayola Create and Play

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple

Crayola Create and Play is loaded with fun features like coloring pages, tending to in-game creatures and plants, learning and arcade-style games, puzzles, and more. It encourages creativity and curiosity with digital versions of Crayola art supplies (remember stamp markers?), while encouraging kids to think about letters, numbers, problem solving and more. There are no "wrong" answers, just creativity. You can also find Crayola Create and Play in the App Store, but you'll encounter in-app purchases and ads.

Pok Pok Playroom

Available through Pok Pok subscription ($4 a month)

Pok Pok

Pok Pok Playroom includes a collection of digital toys and activities that encourage cognitive and socio-emotional development, according to the team, with no winning or losing. The app includes colorful activities like a mix-and-match block game, a drawing pad, and a Busy Board packed with buttons, switches, bells and musical blobs. Pok Pok Playroom also has sections called Town, Forest and House, which further encourage exploration, curiosity and learning.

Run Sackboy! Run

Price: Free

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Run Sackboy! Run is the mobile version of the Little Big Planet game series. It's a cute endless runner platformer in the original game's unique crafted-materials style. As you run, you can collect coins, bubbles and stickers to ultimately increase your score. Each level adds on different tasks, like jumping or dashing a certain amount of times. 

Eloh

Price: $3

Screenshot/Google Play

Eloh is a visually beautiful musical puzzle game that teases your brain without stressing you out. Each level features island spirits that you can move. Once you get them into the right spot, tap the red speaker and music will start. The goal is to bounce the "sound waves" off the spirits and hit the spiral icon, kind of like banking a shot in billiards. 

Frogger in Toytown

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Gamespot

Embark on a quest inside a human's house to rescue lost "froglets" after they're blown away in a storm. You'll navigate a toy-filled terrain -- avoid toy cars, climb block buildings and collect jelly beans to save the froglets. When you rescue a froglet, it hops on Frogger's back, which is just as cute as it sounds. Carrying the froglets adds an extra challenge during the obstacle courses because they can fall off. If you liked the old-school Frogger, this game's worth a look. 

Enchanted World

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple Arcade

The Enchanted World is about a young fairy whose world is wrecked by dark forces. You'll help her on a journey to repair and heal what's been damaged. With guidance from a red songbird along the way, you'll get help from a web-spinning spider, quirky robots, a hungry frog and others. Through sliding block-style gameplay, you'll redirect rivers, mend tree roots, rearrange gears on a factory floor and save your world from the darkness. 

Rayman Adventures

Price: Free

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

There are a number of Rayman games that have come out over the years, but there's a free mobile version called Rayman Adventures that your kids can try out. Adventures is an endless runner where players must find all the Ancient Eggs that keep the Sacred Tree alive. 

Read more: 11 nostalgic games to play on Apple Arcade if you miss your childhood

Sneaky Sasquatch

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month

Apple Arcade

In the infectiously cute game Sneaky Sasquatch, you'll play just that: A sneaky sasquatch. But you also get help from a clever raccoon. Sneak into the campsite and fill your backpack with snacks. Sometimes other animals, like the snoozing bear, are willing to pay for some picnic leftovers. You can use the money at the raccoon's shop. Just make sure you tip-toe so you don't get caught by the surly park ranger or scare any campers. 

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Price: Free

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

In Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp -- the free mobile version of the original simulation game -- you're in charge of a campsite -- craft furniture, personalize your tent and customize your camper. You can travel to different recreation spots, meet animals and grow your friendships in exchange for rewards. While you're visiting, you can fish, gather fruit and collect bugs to trade later. All the friends you make can visit your campsite, too. 

Pocket Camp also offers a smaller world to manage compared with New Horizons. In addition, the tasks are easier on the mobile version, and update daily. Essentially, you're getting big rewards for picking up everything on the ground and shaking all the trees.

Pocket Camp also offers a smaller world to manage compared with New Horizons. In addition, the tasks are easier on the mobile version and update daily. Essentially, you're getting big rewards for picking up everything on the ground and shaking all the trees. It definitely helped me scratch the FOMO itch when most of my friends were playing Animal Crossing over the summer. 

Doomsday Vault

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Flightless

In this WALL-E style puzzle game, the Earth's climate has collapsed and you must rescue the remaining plant life. Explore what's left of the planet in your robot suit, collect plant life and return it safely to the Doomsday Vault. Just be careful -- there are AI bots that were left behind motivated by sentiments of corporate greed.  

Inbento

Price: $3

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Inbento is an adorable puzzle game about cats and bento boxes. Relax with these cute Japanese lunch box brainteasers. Rearrange the food to match the recipe to complete the box. Each level gets a little more difficult, but the whole game is set to soothing music. There are over 100 levels to beat and extra-challenging bonus levels. 

Gorogoa

Price: $5

Nintendo

Gorogoa is a gorgeous puzzle game with an accompanying narrative. It's all hand-drawn panels that players have to combine in a certain way to solve the level. It's hard to explain this one without playing it yourself. The more puzzles you play, the more your mind acclimates to the puzzle style. Gorogoa transports players between realities full of strange creatures. Reviews suggest playing it multiple times for better understanding. 

The Pinball Wizard

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple Arcade

In The Pinball Wizard, you play as a young apprentice who must bring peace back to your homeland by restoring a lost treasure in a high tower. Along the way, you must defeat enemies and collect keys to find the next room. The game works like a pinball game: The higher you go, the more health you lose if you fall out of the ring. 

Fruit Ninja

Price: Free

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Fruit Ninja is an oldie but a goody. It's a simple concept -- as fruit is tossed up on the screen, you use your finger to slice it up as fast as you can. Just watch out for the bombs that start getting tossed into the mix as well. It's a fun way to pass the time and has different modes to play in, like Zen, where there's no bombs, but it's timed. If you lose on a level, you can sacrifice a life to continue, or watch an ad to progress for free.  

Donut County

Price: $5

Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

This is an adorable, creative game. Donut County is taken over by raccoons who are stealing everyone's trash with remote-controlled holes. You play as the hole. The game's story takes a turn when one of the raccoons falls into the hole he's operating and has to answer for his actions. The trouble is, the holes keep growing and won't stop until the whole county has been gobbled up.

Spongebob: Patty Pursuit

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple

Spongebob: Patty Pursuit is a fun platformer that takes you through the Spongebob universe. Jump on trampolines, speed down ziplines, avoid jellyfish, and collect coins and spatulas along the way to foil the infamous mini-villain Plankton's plans to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. It's up to SpongeBob and his friends -- Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Gary the Snail and Mr. Krabs -- to stop him. 

Age 9 and up

Minecraft

Price: $7

Mojang

Blocky world-building game Minecraft lets players explore, gather resources, craft tools and engage in some mild combat. The game has different modes -- survival, creative, adventure, spectator and multiplayer -- so you have flexibility in how you play. For younger players, Minecraft teaches teamwork and the motivation to improve reading and math skills on top of creativity and self-direction. 

Down in Bermuda

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Yak & Co.

A pilot named Milton crashes on a seemingly deserted island in Bermuda, where you must help him discover the island's secrets and solve puzzles to find a way home. It's a cute, colorful game that's perfect for just about everyone. I liked that there was just enough mystery and story mixed in with puzzle-solving. 

The Crossy Road series

Price: Free

Hipster Whale

The original Crossy Road asks the question "why did the chicken cross the road?" in the form of a classic infinite runner game. Think Frogger meets Flappy Bird. Crossy Road Castle joined Apple Arcade in February 2020, which adds a platforming element to the gameplay. 

Zoombinis

Price: $3

Screenshot/YouTube

If you grew up in the '90s, you might remember this game. You must guide the Zoombinis out of the evil Bloats' clutches and home to Zoombiniville. Each of the 12 levels such as Allergic Cliffs, Stone Cold Caves and Pizza Pass get progressively more challenging, with kids using logic and pattern identification to win. 

Lego Brawls

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Lego brand has stood the test of time, making the jump from plastic blocks to the silver screen to video games. Lego Brawls is a mobile fighting game that's easy to start playing. The game offers countless ways to create your Lego character in a fast-paced 4v4 multiplayer. Every stage of the game brings new challenges, goals and quirky power-ups, like a pie launcher, a cactus suit, a snake car or a hot dog stand. Jump into a party, join a brawl or keep training.

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Oceanhorn 2 is an open-world action fantasy RPG that tells the story of a young knight on a quest with his friends to save the world from an evil warlock. The knight ventures out with Trin, the granddaughter of Arcadia's leader Archimedes, and Gen, a robot armed with a Samurai weapon. The trio must unite with the Owrus, Gillfolk and others to save the world from Warlock Mesmeroth's Dark Army.

Alto's Adventure Price: $5

Price: $5

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Alto's Adventure is to endless runners what Monument Valley is to puzzle games. The game puts a new twist on sports adventure as you -- as Alto -- snowboard across scenic hills, down gorgeous mountainsides and through villages with day-to-night transitions. It's all set to a lovely soundtrack as well. Rescue animals, collect coins, outsmart mountain elders and brave the weather along the way.

You can also check out Alto's Odyssey ($5), the studio's follow-up game, as well as Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City, on Apple Arcade.  

Terraria

Price: $5

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Terraria is similar to Minecraft, but it's 2D. You create a character, select your world size and start harvesting resources to craft items. Once you get a home, a worktable and a torch, the game really picks up. With a light, you can go underground and start mining resources there, in addition to treasure chests that can contain gear upgrades, and life crystals to raise your health. It's a pretty big open-world game and there are enemies you'll encounter, but if you die, you'll respawn with all your loot, sans a few coins. 

Butter Royale

Available through Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

Apple

Butter Royale is like Fortnite with food. The game is set in the near future, where weapons have been banned globally. In a cafe, a food fight erupted after two patrons began arguing over the last chocolate doughnut. Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on people's tension, mysterious company Butter Co. created a game show called Butter Royale. Contestants are air-dropped onto an island to duke it out with food. After upgrading from stale baguettes to Nutritionally Operated Machines, or NOMs, players engage in "culinary combat," and try to outrun floods of butter and get to safe zones in 5-minute matches.

Age 12 and up

Miracle Merchant

Price: Free

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This game caught my attention because it reminded me of the Adventure Time cartoon. Miracle Merchant is solitaire meets potion brewing with a cast of zany, colorful characters. All your "potion ingredients" are in the card decks and organized by color, a potion is a mix of four cards. How well you mix the potion -- your arrangement of cards -- determines how much money it's worth. It's a fun, unintimidating problem-solving game. 

Stardew Valley

Price: $4

Nintendo

Stardew Valley is a comfort classic in the vein of Animal Crossing. In the Super Nintendo-style simulation RPG, you've inherited your grandfather's farm plot in Stardew Valley. Start out with little money and old tools, then work your way up from there. You'll farm, live off the land as you see fit, explore Pelican Town and befriend its residents, search for treasure, decorate your home and maybe even fall in love.

Read more: 7 great, cheap kid-friendly gifts that aren't video games