Best nursery rhymes and fairy tales apps for kids
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Best for sing-alongs
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- Packed with colourful activities
- Focus on early English, maths & science skills
- Supports your child’s physical and social development
Each song has its own animated scene, beautifully drawn by Oscar-nominated artist Heidi Wittlinger, and is packed with over 100 interactive elements: by tapping your child can, for example, send a surfer down the Thames, make an owl fly into a tree, or watch a cable car travel to the top of a mountain.
There’s a karaoke mode, where your child can sing along to the highlighted lyrics on the screen, and Little Fox’s music studio where they can record their own songs and play them back.
The app is available on Android, but you’ll need to search its German name: Kleiner Fuchs Kinderlieder. Once it’s downloaded, you can switch the language to English. There’s also a Little Fox Nursery Rhymes YouTube channel for your child to enjoy.
Best for staged reading levels
If your child devours stories one after another, FarFaria, with its huge library of e-books for children aged one to nine, is well worth the investment (although you can read one story a day for free).
The app is packed with fairy tales, including Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Frog Prince and The Golden Goose (as well as many, many other stories from a huge range of categories, from bedtime stories to biographies). Each story has a read-along and read to me mode, so children can choose whether to practise their reading or just enjoy being read to.
There’s a useful tool to help you work out your child’s reading level so you can choose books that are pitched appropriately. Although these are based on US school grades, it’s easy to relate them to English equivalents. Bear in mind, though, that as the app is American, narration and spelling are in American English.
Best traditional tale interactivity
One thing is certain: your nursery rhyme addict will never get bored of this app, which features over 100 popular rhymes, including Hickory Dickory Dock and If You’re Happy and You Know It, and learning songs, such as the Alphabet Song.
Every song has its own colourful animation with lots of things to spot and treasures to collect, plus read-along lyrics to support your child’s early reading. A particular benefit is that you can download their favourites to your device so they can use the app away from home without using your data.
Dave and Ava also introduce your child to letters and numbers, with interactive elements like colouring objects by swiping, rearranging pieces to complete a puzzle, and tracing letters with their finger. A word of advice, though: if your child is using the alphabet learning function, switch off the volume as phonics sounds are taught the American way, which is different from the UK’s.
Best for creating your own stories
Princess Fairy Tale Maker, free, Apple
Princess Fairy Tale Maker encourages your child to use classic stories as a springboard for their own creativity.
The app has 32 scenes, ranging from Enchanted Castle to Deep Sea, for your child to customise. They can choose their princesses (a sad drawback is that there are no male characters), add animated stickers, of which there are over 190, and give their scene a personal finishing touch by drawing in their own details. They can then record themselves telling the story – either a much-loved fairy tale or their own story – and play it back, accompanied by their scene.
There’s also a colouring mode, where your child can select a picture inspired by a fairy tale and colour it in using a wide selection of virtual pens and crayons.
Best STEM app
This is a fairy tale-based app with a difference where, rather than reading a story, your child explores it by navigating 3D or augmented reality (AR) characters through forest paths using coding basics. It’s aimed at children in KS1 and above and is aligned to the English computing curriculum.
Little Red Coding Club involves your child making Little Red and the woodcutter journey through the forest to Grandma’s house, while avoiding the big bad wolf and other pitfalls like running out of path or bumping into obstacles. Using the commands forwards, left, right and pause, they string together basic sequences of code, and then press play to see whether their sequence gets them to their intended destination.
There’s a multiplayer option so your child and a sibling or friend can put their heads together to work out increasingly difficult sequences, and they can also create their own levels and challenges and collect treasures as they play.
Best for pre-schoolers
We can always rely on CBeebies for quality, age-appropriate educational content, and the Storytime app is no exception.
Along with stories based on favourite characters, the app has hands-on activities for your child: settle down and say goodnight with the Bedtime Stories collection and Moon and Me, have fun at the beach with Mr Tumble, join Peter Rabbit for an adventure, have a carnival party with JoJo & Gran Gran and many more!
Plus ten new interactive stories from celebrated children’s authors including current Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE, Destynee Onwochei and Olly Pike, celebrate diversity and inclusivity to better reflect the lives of all children from across the UK.
Best range of stories and rhymes
Think of a nursery rhyme, and it’ll almost certainly be in the KidoLand library – probably the most extensive collection we’ve seen, including less common ones like Little Jack Horner. Each song has sing-along lyrics on screen, and lots of interactive elements like touching the cloud to make it rain.
Fairy tales are included, too, with read-along and read-to-me options, as well as a huge range of other stories, songs and rhymes grouped by category, for example sports, vegetables and monsters.
The app is tested and approved by teachers and parents, and also features lots of other learning activities for pre-school and Reception children like practising letter formation, basic number games, and vocabulary flashcards. You can pay by month or take out an annual subscription, which offers better value.
Best creative app
Toca Tailor Fairy Tales, free, Apple
From top educational app developer Toca Boca comes this sweet little app that allows your child to play at being a fashion designer using backgrounds, fabric and accessories inspired by fairy tales.
Your child can pick a girl or boy character, then choose an outfit for them and tailor it by adjusting hems, sleeves and trouser legs. They can use the selection of fabric designs in the store cupboard, or use their device’s camera to take photos of patterns in the real world to use as fabric prints. They can also photograph their own background and use their bedroom, living room or garden as scenery. To finish their design, they can add fairy tale details like Peter Pan’s hat or a big bad wolf mask.
Toca Tailor helps to develop children’s creativity and fine motor control as they style their character. Check out the useful parents’ guide, too, which has ideas for extending your child’s play, for example by making up a story for their model, beginning, ‘Once upon a time…’
Best for games-based learning
This is an all-in-one activity centre for young children based around the ever-popular The Wheels on the Bus. The song itself – all eleven verses – has karaoke-style lyrics on screen and lots of interactive features for your child to drag and tap as they listen.
The app has several educational mini games to enjoy, including jigsaw puzzles, counting games, and letter recognition, as well as other ‘just for fun’ activities like a virtual bus ride with your child at the wheel, a racing game, and a brilliant horn piano where they can make their own music using vehicle horn sounds.
The games in the app are designed to develop logic, memory and fine motor skills, and the feedback in the form of animations and verbal praise will give your child positive affirmation as they play.
Best for independent readers
Fairy Tales – Bedtime Stories, free, Apple
With over 2,000 positive ratings, this fairy tale library is understandably well loved, with a wide selection of traditional stories ranging from Puss in Boots to Aesop’s Fables.
Because the stories are designed to be read aloud at bedtime – either by you or by a professional narrator – they’re longer and more complex than in most fairy tale apps, which means they’re also great for confident readers to read independently, perhaps a chapter at a time. At intervals throughout each book, there are beautiful pop-up pages with activities like matching games, hidden objects and labyrinths.
The app can be used without registering, but if you do, you can save your child’s favourite stories in your virtual library. You can try the app with one story free; to unlock more, you can cash in your coins, which can be earned in small amounts via a daily bonus, or purchased in bundles from £2.99.