The best ad-free Android apps for your little one

by Caitlin M. Foyt

If it's shiny, your toddler will find it and put it in his mouth. However, soaking your Android phone and making accidental international calls aren't the only ways for a young child to entertain himself with the device. There are a whole bunch of apps in the Google Play store that can turn your phone or tablet into a colorful, interactive and educational toy. These ad-free books, games and apps can be used to soothe a crying child or keep him busy during a longer car ride.

Green Eggs and Ham – Dr. Suess ($3.99)

One of the best selling children's books of all time is brought to life in this app. An interactive, almost cinematic, experience, Green Eggs and Ham allows children to select how they'd like to experience the story. Choose from "Read to Me," in which a narrator tells the story, and you turn the pages; "Read It Myself," without a narrator; and "Autoplay," which makes the story play out like a movie. If you quit the application in the middle of the book, the next time you log-in, you can pick up where you left off, even if you choose a different reading mode. The creators of the Green Eggs and Ham application Oceanhouse Media, also make a few other similar apps, including a few other favorites by Dr. Seuss like The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who!, plus the Little Critter series amongst others.

Fingerpaint (Free)

Just imagine: coloring, drawing and painting without all the mess. It's just as easy as dipping a finger in a pot of paint, too. Your child just has to choose two pencil sizes and colors, and then they can go crazy with the scribbles. For $1.21, the full version of this app allows users to upload and doodle on photos. This might make for a worthwhile upgrade if you also have older children.

Kids ABC Letters ($2.99)

Intended for children ages 2-7, Kids ABC letters is a fun game that invites children to listen to and learn the English alphabet in an exciting way. Kids will learn the alphabet letter names and practice letter shapes, recognition and finding letters in context. Every section is designed so that children are successful and can be patted on the back each time they find a correct answer. Kids ABC Letters can be also be used on an Android tablet.

Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book ($0.99)

This app takes your child on a special adventure through the Hundred Acre Wood. An interactive story, your child must help Pooh Bear find his missing honey pots and solve lots of fun little puzzles along the way. One of Puzzle Book's neatest features is the ability for parents to record themselves reading the story, so that your child can listen to a familiar voice telling them a story while at work or driving the car. The app also has multiple visual and audio language options to choose from, including English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

iStoryBooks (Free)

iStorybooks is like an e-reader for small children, but these books read themselves aloud. Parents can decide what's right for their child to read by adding or removing books from the library. Including classic tales like The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, the app has tons of different story books, bedtime stories, fairy tales and picture books. There are also educational books for children in nursery school, pre-school and kindergarten about the ABCs, geography, the national monuments of America, and sound association. The app also introduces a brand new story ever two weeks, so that your child won't ever run out of things to read.

Kids Connect the Dots ($2.99)

This is a digital version of the connect the dots game that often pop-up in coloring and activity books. To play, draw lines from dot to dot in order to create a colorful picture. It's a brilliant way to get children practicing with numbers and letters of the alphabet, and they don't even realize that they're learning! With almost 100 different images available, this app will keep your child's attention for a while.

Colors (Free)

The Five Pumpkin suite of Android apps for toddlers features a bunch of different free apps that teach ABCs, numbers, shapes and reading. All of the apps use flash cards to teach various concepts and were developed by a team of ex-Google coders. This collection is truly revolutionary in the way toddlers can learn about the world around them while using an Android-based smartphone. Colors by Five Pumpkin teaches your child all of the colors of the rainbow. The "favorites" mode allows you to highlight the colors that your child is stuck on and then cycle through them. The app also has a safety lock so that your little one doesn't accidentally call up work or 911.