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The end of the school year is in sight, and kids are just itching to get out of the classroom and stuff their backpacks in the closet (after unsurprisingly abandoning it in the middle of the floor) until the fall. They will finally have their chance to soak in some much-needed rest, relaxation, and vitamin D — but we know the summer isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. As your kids run around the backyard, they also run the risk of experiencing summer slide. And no, that’s not the same as the slide at the playground (although we hope they can indulge in that too!). It’s the dreaded tendency for students to forget and lose some of the academic skills they spent the last school year building up.

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The 12 Best Kids Apps That Are Fun, Educational & Totally Worth the Download

And here’s the thing: summertime inevitably leads to more screen time. It may be because you need a way to keep your child entertained and happy while traveling, to keep them occupied when the temperature or pollen counts are too high, or it may simply be a nice treat after they spent 180 days with their nose in a textbook. Kids are going to spend more time on their devices in the coming months, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be a way to reduce summer slide. Apple Arcade — $4.99/month after a free 30-day trial — has a whole lineup of educational games that can reduce the slide and reduce any lingering parental guilt. The best part? They’re so fun your kid won’t even realize you snuck some learning into their sacred screen time.

  • Dear Reader

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    Dear Reader is a perfect reading companion for tweens and teens. Not only can young bibliophiles read their favorite books, but they can also “play” them. The game includes more than 100 literary classics and dozens of word puzzles. As players make their way through the book, they can unscramble anagrams and swap lines of text, unlocking more puzzles and making reading a more interactive, engaging experience.

  • Disney SpellStruck (Artist Arcade)

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    If you can’t get your kids to practice their spelling (*sigh*), their favorite Disney and Pixar characters certainly can! In Disney SpellStruck, your little learner will spell alongside Mickey Mouse, Tiana, Stitch, and more. They can even play against their friends in this crossword-style game that features daily spelling challenges and a motivating leaderboard. Fun fact: Disney SpellStruck was developed in partnership with the co-creator of Words with Friends, so you know it’s legit.

  • Crayola Create and Play+

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    Crayola is already a staple in your child’s classroom, so why shouldn’t it be a staple in their device? The Crayola Create and Play+ app inspires creativity and curiosity and is frequently updated with new games to keep your kid interested all summer long. Users can color with all sorts of virtual tools — like Crayola’s diverse skin tone crayons, pixel art, glow art, and tracing — to make special art projects. They will also learn about coding, other STEM topics, critical thinking, and social-emotional skills, so it’s not only your child’s art teacher who will appreciate them using this app.

  • Beyond Blue

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    You can think of Beyond Blue as a futuristic, virtual masterclass in marine biology. Users get to explore the awe-inspiring beauty and mystery of the ocean, seeing it through the eyes of a scientist and their research team. Throughout the game, they will discover 16 mini-documentaries that feature original footage and interviews with leading ocean experts. Your little scientist will love “suiting up” and “diving in.” And if you visit the beach this summer, they will see the landscape with a newfound appreciation.

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    We always love nature-inspired learning games, and that is especially true during summer vacation when our kiddos are spending a whole lot of time outside. In Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, a young girl explores the beautiful Mediterranean island where her grandparents live. While she learns about the surrounding wildlife, she also comes face-to-face with the impact littering has on the environment. She decides to team up with local volunteers to address the issue, so not only is your child learning about animals, but they are also learning about preservation and giving back.

  • wurdweb

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    Wurdweb is like a solo Scrabble for beginners. Users are given a list of words and have to use critical thinking, counting, and spelling skills to connect the words on the game board. Bonus: If your child is learning another language at school, they can also play wurdweb in a dozen other languages.

  • Bridge Constructor+

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    This game will quite literally act as the bridge between the end of one school year and the start of the next, keeping the gears in young engineers’ minds turning. In Bridge Constructor+, players build bridges in all kinds of landscapes with a variety of materials and conduct stress tests to see if they will withstand daily traffic. All the while, they must stay within their budget, which adds some extra math and business learning into the mix.

  • Word Laces

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    Your little learner can keep their spelling skills p-r-i-s-t-i-n-e this summer with help from Word Laces. At the start of each round, players are shown a picture and a jumble of letters. Then they must figure out the related word and connect the letters (with a shoelace, of course!) in the right order to win the round.

  • Squiggle Drop

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    Squiggle Drop takes some serious (and we mean serious) critical thinking skills and a strong understanding of cause and effect. Players are shown a situation — like a shower head that is spraying outside the tub — and have to draw a shape up top that will hopefully drop down to the right place and solve the problem. If it’s tricky to understand, that’s because it’s tricky to play! It’s sure to keep your young physicist’s mind sharp all summer.

  • Hanx101 Trivia

    Image Credit: Apple Arcade

    It may sound so random, but Hanx101 Trivia was created by trivia-loving actor Tom Hanks. His virtual trivia game has multiple categories including math, geography, history, and even food. If your little learner wants to win, they’ll have to keep their memory sharp. Even if they don’t get all the questions right, they’ll build up a repertoire of fun facts they can share while making s’mores around a campfire.

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