We are all about the games around here. Board games, card games, yard games, video games, computer games, dice games, make believe games, you name it. We are an equal opportunity game household.

But I had no idea when I got my spiffy new ipod touch that I was buying a gaming machine. I think I was still in old school ipod thinking that classified the device as a player of music and books. I had in the back of my mind that playing games on an ipod was like playing that dim, black and white version of tetris on the 1.5 inch screen of the cellphones of ten years ago. But that is not the case. An ipod touch has a big, boldly colored touch screen, coupled with an accelerometer, and creative people the world over have figured out a lot of ways to put that combination together in fun, surprising ways.

Bottom line? My kids dig my ipod as much as I do.

But it’s tricky to find games for little people. Most of the games for the ipod are too hard, or move too fast. I looked and looked for a list of good kiddo games, but found very little. So I decided to make my ow list. So, here are 14 ipod touch / iphone games we’ve found that fit the criteria of being fascinating and fun, as well as providing enough scaffolding for little people, new to gaming, to latch onto. I’ve linked each to an App Beacon page, so if one of these sounds good and you want some screen shots, poof, you’ve got it.

Here we go!

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Ancient Frog—This puzzle game is gorgeous and very engaging for me, as well as Sophie (5). Luc (3) likes to fiddle with it, but he’s a bit too small to actually play the puzzles. The game involves wallking a brilliantly rendered frog to a target location, by lifting his feet, one at time, in the fewest number of moves. When he gets there, he gets to eat a fly. Sophie is totally engrossed in this game right now, as I’m typing this.

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Animatch—A memory match game, with animals (and animal sounds) on the cards. Luc loves this game. Sophie will play sometimes, or play partners with Luc, but it’s a bit easy for her.

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Aqua Forest—This game is hard to to explain. It’s a physics engine, with puzzles. Or you can go into a freeplay mode and just fool around with the water, ice, explosive powder, gel, fire, earth and metal. Sophie calls this ‘doing experiments.’ You can draw with water, say, and then tilt the ipod to slosh the water around on the screen. Or add some fire and watch the water evaporate into steam. Or add some explosive powder and blow up the screen. Or…. The puzzles are fun, basically solving some situation in order to get water from here to there. This is probably Sophie’s favorite game of all of these.

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Bejeweled 2—This game is famous. You get a screen full of colorful gems and you try to move them around to get three in a row. When you get three, those dissappear and more gems fall from the sky. Luc can’t really play this one yet, though he likes to fiddle with the pretty pictures for a minute or two sometimes. Sophie grooves on this one, though. She loves to play it in the car.

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Create a cartoon face—This game makes them both giggle. Basically, you assemble a funny cartoon face from a bunch of components (heads, eyes, noses, etc.). They like to make the silliest faces they can come up with. This game would be improved by MORE options, especially silly ones. They like to play this one together.

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Garf This is a sound memory game, just like the old Simon game where you press the buttons in the order they are played to you, one more tone each turn. The first dozen levels or so are doable for Sophie and she loves to play it with me. After that it starts to get a bit too hard for her.

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Jigsawed This is a great jigsaw puzzle program that uses preloaded photos, or photos from downloadable sources like National Geographic, gorgeous shots. Luc really likes this game. It will cut the puzzle into as few as nine pieces, which is good for him. Sophie likes sixteen pieces, and loves picking out new pictures.

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Knots This game is like twister for your fingers. One player or two. It’s called knots because you end up with your fingers all twisted together. Lots of giggling.

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Kyodai involves clearing pairs of cute little figures, when there is a clear path between them. It took forever for us to figure out how to do this game. Use the ‘hint’ button liberally on the first few screens and watch the little sparkly line that zooms between the pairs when they clear to see what ‘clear path’ means. It’s a lot easier to see it, than to explain it. Sophie is very interested in this game.

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Mazefinger—This game produces mazes, very simple at first, that you trace with your finger while lightening and special effects appear to burn the maze up behind you. You have a certain amount of time to complete the maze. Both the kids are into this, but the time factor makes it harder, and sometimes frustrating for them. If there was a ‘timeless’ mode, they would love it.

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Sneezies This is a chain reaction game. You sprinkle sneezing powder on some cute little critters and they start sneezing, which makes the critters nearby sneeze, and so on. You try to clear as many sneezies as possible with a single dose of powder. Luc likes this game. Sophie played it for five minutes or so and then was done.

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Tic Tac Toe—the old classic, a bit boring for me, but fun for Sophie when we have to wait, say, at a restaurant. Luc doesn’t quite get the three-in-a-row concept yet, but Sophie does and she plays a cutthroat game.

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Towersmash—You build towers of any shape by dropping blocks out of the sky, and then you knock your towers down by firing marbles into them from the side of the screen. The physics of this games are surprisingly realistic and satisfying, with tipping blocks that slide or don’t, depending on how hard they get hit, etc. Both kids adore this game, squealing in happiness when they fire off the marbles. It doesn’t hold Sophie’s interest for very long, though. This is more for Luc.

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Trace—They both like this game, though Sophie sticks with it a lot longer. This is a puzzle game, where you try to walk the little stick figure guy to the exit by drawing (with your finger) paths over varied terrain, chasms, cliffs, underwater, up plants, etc., while avoiding floating geometric shapes that send him back to the beginning. Very simple graphics. And maybe it sounds too simple, but both kids love to try to solve the problems, working on a level over and over, trying different solutions, until they get him through.

Okay, that’s it.

Some games we have tried that haven’t gone over as well because they were too hard, or required action too quickly, or under time pressure, are Rolando, DoodleJump, Brick Breaker Revolution 3d, Labyrinth, Enigmo, Cowabunga, and DizzyBee. Two games that we tried but the kids weren’t interested were Superpoke Pets, and Butterfly Catch.

I hear a lot of parents talk about electronic games being bad for kids, or how they struggle with limiting game time. That just makes no sense to me. I don’t limit games or limit the kinds of games, as long as everyone is having fun. Kids are built to learn. They suck in the world non-stop. And they do it through play. Just like every other mammal. Watching either Sophie or Luc engage with these puzzles games, I can just see their brains just bristling. And the giggle games are like medicine to my ears. If the kid was playing chess, I bet parent’s wouldn’t worry—but because these games are pixels instead of wood, they gets dissed. I just don’t agree.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll do a post on that, but it will have to be later, because right now I’m being tapped for a game of Candyland, or ‘Candy Landy’ as they call it.

The chocolate swamp is my favorite.

ETA: for part two of this list, go here.  ETA again: for part three of this list, go here.

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10 Responses to 14 ipod touch / iphone games for little kids

  1. Mithu says:

    Thank you so much for this absolutely REAL list of kids games for the iPod! I’ve been looking for a good list all night and all I’ve found are lists of trite, mindless fodder that only list games that would qualify for “G” movie ratings. What about letting the kids have some FUN?!? GASP!

    I admire your outlook on letting your children explore and learn at the same time. Who knew how much was to be learned from the Hulk? Our youngest has had the same fascination with the Hulk since age 4. It was the cutest thing – he’s a speck barely visible to the naked eye and yet he truly believes he’s as strong as the Hulk! Well, he can knock Daddy down with a single headbutt – isn’t that proof enough? I only wish I had your patience and imagination. It takes a lot of that around here (twins and the little guy make three boys, and one of the twins qualifies as a “Spirited Child” – see Mary Kurcinka’s excellent book to see what I mean: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060923288/ivillagepp/).

    Your site and posts are fascinating. Enough that out of the zillions of blogs I’ve read and started to type replies on, I think yours will be the 2nd I can even remember committing a reply to.

    Keep up the good work Maya!

  2. maya says:

    Hi there, Nice to meet you! Thanks for the feedback and I’m delighted you find the blog of use. That’s funny about your little guy and the Hulk. I know exactly what you mean.

    I really need to do a 2nd part to this ipod game list. We have new ones we like now! One day soon….

  3. Phil says:

    Very good review. Where did you buy the games? how much did they cost?

  4. maya says:

    These games are in the Apple App Store. Most of them are a dollar or two. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Andrea says:

    Hi,
    there are some new games out.
    Check out LittleFish. It’s for the little ones, and all my 3 children love it. It’s easy to handle and has nice (handmade) drawings.

    Have a nice day
    Andrea

  6. Trish says:

    Great list! We have cookie doodle and creamy ice and those are just great for the 5-6 yr old crowd in this house….skee ball is also easy and fun.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I just installed LittleFish for my youngest. It’s really fun and easy. This game is the number one kids game in the European App Store.

  8. Kate says:

    Thanks for the list. Some good ones I haven’t come across. Must have a bit of a look.

    Another one that my daughters really like is LiLBug which has just come out. It’s cute, colorful and doesn’t move too fast for the younger set. Also adorable sound track.

    http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/lilbug/id384367496?mt=8

  9. Peter says:

    Thanks you are literally a last minute life saver. Our 3 year old absolutely loves playing games on our phones. We decided to re-gift an old iPod touch 2nd generation that our older daughter never even used. I just bought a credit card for it today to activate an Apple account for it…only to find out that most of the games in the app store are not compatible with the OS running on this older model. I used Google to try to find and search for games compatible with this device and no luck until I found yours. She may be a little disappointed that there will be no Angry Birds and Tomb Runner, but the games you suggested are compatible and I have no doubt she will absolutely love them. You saved Christmas and one little girl is going to be very happy!

  10. maya says:

    Peter, I’m delighted to hear that! How cool that this old post is still getting some good play!

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