Welcome to our list of the best free games for kids on both tablet and PC. These games have all been carefully picked to make sure they are appropriate for boys and girls.
There are all kinds of horror stories out there about kids playing games. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, we were inundated by stories about how Pac-Man would bring about the end of society – kids shambling through maze-like streets, starving for a cyber pellet fix.
That never happened, thankfully. In fact, research has shown that gaming can be a productive leisure activity – in moderation, of course. For example, the best free games for kids all encourage creativity and critical thinking. The best free games for kids are therefore an active leisure activity, as opposed to the passivity of watching TV.
So, it’s best to make sure your kids are only playing the best games available to them. Fortunately, we’re here to help – we’ve created a list of the 20 best free games for kids, both girls and boys, between 5 and 11 years old. They’re complete, as-is experiences, combine depth and immediacy and have no violence. And, they’re all extremely fun – no matter how old your little one is – and that’s what’s important, right? So, sit back, relax and we’ll go over the best free games for kids.
10 best games for kids on Android tablets and iPad
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: Free games need to make money somehow. There are several games listed here that do indeed offer in-app purchases (IAPs) for in-game currency, and some feature ads instead. 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 first to make sure the ads are OK.
1. Sago Mini Friends
Sago Mini Friends is a pleasant little set of mini games that encourages dexterity, puzzle-solving and creativity. It starts with you selecting a colorful character, who then explores a neighborhood of cartoon houses.
Knock on a door, and you’ll be invited inside for an animated, entertaining playdate. This may involve hammering nails into a birdhouse, dress-up or even 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 Creator Islands
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 official game’s a nice substitute.
It’s based around the titular islands, on which you collect bricks, to ‘buy’ Lego sets that are constructed with a few taps. Over time, you’ll accrue houses and vehicles, and cute blocky critters that roam about. As an added bonus, there’s no chance of painfully stepping on a plastic brick.
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 the name suggests, Toca Kitchen 2 is all about cooking. This game will invite you to create meals – however your imagination allows. Invent your own recipes and foist your creations on a colorful cast o f characters, whether you’ve carefully constructed a burger, or just threw a watermelon in the microwave and covered 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. Disney Crossy Road
The original Crossy Road cleverly reworked 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 was a raft of unlockable characters.
Disney Crossy Road is much the same, but uses Disney characters that often radically overhaul the game’s visuals and gameplay mechanics. Over 100 figurines are there to be found, and although IAP lurks, playing and collecting coins in the in-game worlds is all you need to snag them all.
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 pinch of Nintendo in this breezy arcade game, with its colorful graphics, 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 high-octane world of Fruit Ninja, your finger becomes a virtual sword, chopping away at pieces of fruit lobbed onto the screen in two, and attempting to avoid cutting into game-ending bombs.
It fits on a tablet perfectly, since you can make satisfyingly large swipes across the screen. But, what really sets it apart is the fact that it offers local multiplayer, so two kids can zealously pit their fruit-slicing skills against each other.
With its tiny isometric world you can spin with your finger, and landscape-twisting 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.
Although it’s a fun solo game, which makes the most of bigger screens (through you being able to see more of each course and therefore aim more precisely), it also has superb multiplayer modes. You can play turn-by-turn matches with friends, or try your hand at frenetic, madcap ‘race to the hole’ skirmishes.
If you have several kids with their own devices, Spaceteam is a delightfully crazy way to have them all yell at each other in a vaguely productive way that will help them work as a team – at least in theory. Specifically, a ‘spaceteam’ in a ship trying to outrun an exploding star, with control panels designed by a sadist.
Once your kids’ devices are connected, instructions appear on your display – 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 Star Trek.