I know I'm not the only one who feels just a tad less guilty about extra screen time for my kids when they're engaged with an app that is helping them learn. Having a folder of
problem-solving game apps for kids lets them exercise their minds and stretch their imaginations instead of just zoning out like they do while watching endless unboxing videos. (Although, I admit, those videos are oddly fascinating.) Educational apps for kids aren't necessarily hard to come by and your kids likely already have a few that they love. However, these games will help kids hone in on specific problem-solving skills in various forms to keep their minds sharp and give them the chance to learn new things. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids engage with apps that "require more than 'pushing and swiping,'" which these 15 problem-solving game apps certainly do.
Strategy and planning are key components to solving any problem, so it is no surprise that all of these games help to make these concepts come to life for kids in a way that is fun and engaging. STEM-forward games engage physics and engineering to help kids create and invent to solve mechanical and structural problems, while traditional puzzle games allow kids to use their strategical skills to put together digital riddles.
problem-solving power of puzzles cannot be overstated, and apps like Tozzle bring practice of this skillset right to your toddler's digital-loving fingertips. Instead of tripping over a pile of puzzles in your child's floor and risking losing critical pieces, let them explore the 40+ puzzles available on Tozzle. Designed for kids from toddler through early elementary, Tozzle's puzzles range in complexity so there is truly something for every kid. 2 Cut The Rope
My own kids adore playing this game. The goal of the game
Cut The Rope is to feed a cute little monster named Om Nom as much candy as you can. The trick though is that to feed him, you must strategically cut a rope that the candy is hanging from so that it drops in Om Nom's mouth, dodging obstacles along the way. It's actually harder than it looks and requires quite a bit of critical thinking. Best suited for kids ages 4 and up, I have played this one myself a time or two, and it is actually entertaining and engaging for adults as well. 3 Busy Water
What do you get when you combine the physics of water with puzzles? The problem-solving app
Busy Water. Kids can use their critical thinking skills to use pipes, wheels, blocks, and paddles to help Archie the fish find his way out of the open water and back into his fish tank. Aimed at children ages 6 to 10, this app will help engage children's creativity, as well as stretch their cognitive ability and reasoning skills. 4 Laugh & Learn Shapes & Colors Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
Even babies and toddlers can learn through simplistic problem solving apps. Designed for babies ages 6 months and up, this
app by Fisher Price features a baby and toddler-friendly design with bright colors and simple shapes to sort. Two levels of play allow babies and toddlers to learn through tapping or tilting the screen to move the shapes and hear their names. 5 Mystery Math Town
Older kids who could benefit from brushing up on their math skills can do exactly that while enjoying the problem-solving app
Mystery Math Town. The app engages kids in a mission to help a friendly ghost rescue fireflies hidden within Mystery Math Town by using math skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to unlock passages and enter rooms. The app is customizable to fit your child's specific math needs, but recommended for kids aged 7 and up. 6 Savings Spree
As an adult, I can confidently say that money can sometimes causes big problems that must be solved. Let your kids learn how to mitigate money issues before they get their hands on the real thing with the
Savings Spree app. Kids ages 7 and up can practice problem solving skills related to money by engaging in the game show-style format of this game, choosing when to spend, save, invest, or donate their virtual money. 7 Inventioneers
For kids who love to experiment and invent new things, the
Inventioneers app allows them to do so in a digital way. Kids ages 4 and up can build with 50+ objects and tools that utilize physics and engineering to create inventions that solve problems for the three fun Inventioneers characters working within the app. 8 Where's My Water?
Disney app allows your kids to practice their problem-solving skills while also bringing attention to the global issue of clean water access. In Where's My Water? players must cut through dirt and manipulate pipes to deliver clean water through a sewer system to Swampy the alligator. Additional scenarios to solve involve creating steam to power another alligator's musical instrument and clearing algae from a picky alligator's plate. 9 Winky Think Logic Puzzles
The logic puzzles included in the
Winky Think app start out easy, but get increasingly harder as the levels progress. From matching shapes and colors, to twisting and switching objects to maneuver through puzzles, each game encourages players to use reasoning skills as they work through each level. The lower levels of the app are best suited for kids around age 5, but older kids and teens can work through the low levels quickly and be challenged through 180 levels. 10 Shiny Picnic Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
Shiny Picnic app provides engaging and fun game play for toddlers and preschoolers to practice their problem-solving skills. Kids can sort and match objects like fruits and vegetables by color, following along with the game's fun animal characters as they help the crew pack for and set up picnics. 11 'The Cat In The Hat' Builds That
If your kids love
The Cat In The Hat, this PBS Kids app will help them hone in on problem-solving skills right alongside their favorite feisty feline. Kids can engineer their own creations to help solve dilemmas using physics and scientific concepts. Preschoolers will love this fun and easy-to-explore app set in a backyard where The Cat In the Hat and friends build tree houses, playgrounds, and more. 12 Thinkrolls
When you combine STEM concepts with traditional logic games, you get a game that kids can truly get lost in while learning about engineering, physics, and mechanics. Kids ages 3 to 8 can help the adorable monster creatures in the
app Thinkrolls make their way through obstacle courses by manipulating objects to clear paths and trying different methods to finish the game. 13 Cyberchase 3D Builder
app from PBS Kids uses geometry and three-dimensional shapes to help take traditional puzzle games to the next level. Kids ages 6 and up are tasked with using shapes to re-build the city of Botropolis after it is accidentally zapped by Delete and Buzz from the classic Cyberchase game. 14 Zoombinis
Zoombinis app is a recreation of the classic '90s computer game Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, which stars tiny blue creatures attempting to journey home. In this app, kids will solve logic puzzles that engage analyzation skills, pattern creation, and more within each level in order to unlock each additional level until the Zoombinis complete their travels and wind up back at home. 15 Tami's Tower
Tami's Tower app allows kids to use their problem-solving skills to build towers that help Tami the tiger reach fruit to eat. Created by the Smithsonian Institute, the game takes basic engineering predicaments and allows kids to stretch their minds to create solutions to those problems by stacking and manipulating objects.