Even high-income families know the value of free games, whether it’s the best free games for kids or the best titles for tablets. After all, tablet and PC games aren’t exactly cheap, and with several kids buying several games, they can rack up a substantial bill.
Furthermore, parents and kids know that just because the best free games for kids, as well as their tablet peers, are free, it doesn’t mean that they’re less entertaining and fun than their paid-for counterparts. The fact is, they are just as good, if not more, and often educational as well so your kids can learn while having fun
Here you’ll find the best free games for kids and the best no-cost titles for tablets for all children aged five to 11. Completely free at the time of download, some of these games build on skills like creative problem solving and critical thinking while others are more straightforward, engaging and entertain your kids without being overly complicated or overwhelming.
If you’re looking for the best free games on tablet and PC that you can leave your kids to play alone, just keep scrolling. We’ve kept things short and sweet, with 10 Android and iOS tablet games up first and 10 PC games over the page.
10 best games for kids on Android tablets and iPad
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These days, kids are more likely to first experience computing and gaming on a tablet than a home computer. To that end, our tablet selection skews a little younger.
Everything on this list is rated 3+, according to Google, and should be safe for even very young children. However, Apple rates most of these games with a more conservative 4+, except for Super Stickman Golf and Spaceteam, which are 9+. The games are all simple to control, easy to get into, and fun to play.
A note on IAPs and ads: Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a free game that’s not out to make a buck somewhere, so several games listed here will offer in app purchases for in game currency. And, some others will feature ads. In the former case, you can disable IAPs at a system level on your device before handing it over to a kid. With the latter, you should play the game yourself to ensure the ads are OK to show to your kid.
1. Sago Mini Friends
This sweet-natured set of mini-games encourages creativity, dexterity, and puzzle solving. It starts with you selecting a colorful character, who then explores a neighborhood of cartoon houses.
Knock on a door and you’re invited inside for an animated, entertaining playdate. This might involve dress-up, hammering nails into a birdhouse, or enjoying a tasty snack.
Everything’s bright and cheerful, and the game promotes empathy, with one friend looking glum if spoils aren’t evenly shared.
2. Lego Tower
In all honesty, we’re sure most parents would be happier seeing kids playing with real Lego rather than virtual bricks on a tablet. But when the real thing isn’t an option, this game’s a nice substitute.
The game invites you to build and operate your very own dream Lego Tower. You'll create apartments and businesses in which Minifigure residents can live work and play as well as visit the towers of friends to trade items and help them build. There are thousands of pieces to collect and plenty of characters and items to unlock.
3. Toca Kitchen 2
If your child regularly uses a tablet, you’ve likely already installed some Toca Boca games. They’re a smart mix of education and play, and Toca Kitchen 2 is no exception.
As you’d expect, Toca Kitchen 2 is all about cooking. This game invites you to create meals – however you prefer. Devise your own recipes and foist your creations on a colorful cast of characters, whether you’ve carefully constructed a burger, or decided to throw a watermelon into the microwave and cover it in sauce.
4. Llama Spit Spit
Llama Spit Spit is an oddball shoot ’em up, featuring a flying llama blasting crazy cartoon enemies with a mix of spittle and high-powered weaponry.
The controls are incredibly simple, meaning even younger players can get on board. Power-ups and collectable llamas (with their own background imagery) keep things interesting over the long term.
5. Crossy Road
Crossy Road cleverly reworks Frogger, with blocky characters hopping across chunky endless landscapes, trying to avoid a dunk in a river or getting flattened by a train. But the masterstroke is a raft of unlockable characters.
Over 100 characters are there to be found, and although IAP lurks you really don't need them to enjoy the game.
6. Frisbee Forever 2
You’d think flinging a plastic disc about would make for a rubbish video game. Fortunately, Frisbee Forever 2 is more akin to a set of rollercoasters, with you guiding your disc through gates, collecting stars along the way.
There’s a hint of Nintendo about this breezy arcade experience, with its vibrant visuals, smart level design, and a basic control system suitable for all. And although there are freemium underpinnings, you’re rewarded with in-game currency for every second played – even if an attempt at a level ends in failure.
7. Fruit Ninja
In the fast-paced Fruit Ninja, your digit becomes a virtual sword, hacking pieces of fruit lobbed on to the screen in two, and attempting to avoid cutting into game-ending bombs.
It’s ideal fodder for a tablet, since you can make pleasingly large swipes across the display. But also the game offers local multiplayer, so two kids can zealously pit their fruit-slicing skills against each other.
With its tiny isometric worlds you spin with a finger, and landscape-flipping mechanics, Mekorama brings to mind Monument Valley. But this game has no Escher-like optical illusions; instead, it concentrates on straightforward pathfinding as you help an ambling robot reach its goals.
It’s a charming, thoughtful, tactile experience, and on a tablet is suitable for parent/child play, with you working through the puzzles together. Once you’re done with the 50 built-in levels, you can download more from the internet, or make your own.
9. Super Stickman Golf 3
For many kids, golf won’t excite. But the Super Stickman universe doesn’t partake in normal golf. Instead, you’re thwacking balls across larger-than-life side-on courses – massive castles; laser-strewn bases; floating islands.
Even though it’s fun to play by yourself, and makes full use of bigger screens (by letting you see more of each course and therefore aim more precisely), it also has fantastic multiplayer game types. You can play turn-by-turn matches with friends, or try your hand at frenetic, madcap ‘race to the hole’ skirmishes.
Get Super Stickman Golf 3 for iOS. This game features advertising, and IAP for unlocking a premium upgrade (more courses and slots for turn-based multiplayer) and in-game currency.
If you’ve several kids with devices, Spaceteam’s a delightfully bonkers way to have them all yell at each other in a vaguely productive manner that in theory helps them work as a team. Specifically, a ‘spaceteam’ in a ship trying to outrun an exploding star, with control panels designed by a sadist.
Once devices are connected, instructions appear on your screen – but the controls may be on someone else’s. So you’ll have people yelling nonsense like “someone turn on the dangling shunter”, while figuring out if their own screen has a ‘spectrobolt’ slider. Just like in Star Trek.
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Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.