iDough ($4.99) A virtual sculpting application, this iPad application lets your kids prod and pull a deformable glob of "dough" to create all kinds of fun little art projects. The interface may prove a little challenging for the 8-and-under crowd but should be a big hit with your 9-12 year old gang.
Airplanes are all around us. Do you ever have conversations with your kids about who's on a plane, and where's it going? PlaneFinder AR ($2.99, for camera-equipped iOS devices) is the perfect app to let your kids learn more about those planes flying overhead. It works using ADS-B plane feeds to create an augmented reality view of the sky. In real time, you can see which planes are which -- where they are flying to, what their names are, and more. This is a great little app for elementary school kids, especially when you're taking a break at a local park. Not all areas are serviced by ADS-B -- the US in particular has been slow to adopt this technology. Because of that, parents will want to make sure they live in a covered area before purchase.
If you own an iPhone 4 and a VGA video-out cable, your kids will absolutely love the $1.99 Video Out application. This app allows you to connect your phone's camera to your television for lots of fun "let's put on a show" entertainment. What's more, the application provides in-app drawing tools so your kids can draw on the screen with paused images. Yes, it's basically a given that they'll be drawing glasses, mustaches, and horns on each other -- but where's the harm in that? Plus kids simply love being able to put themselves "on TV", to create their own shows for you. Although it's technically meant for use in classrooms or presentation demos (and works very well for that too), this little app will keep your kids entertained for hours.
Older kids will love Moxie 2 ($0.99, iPhone and iPod touch). It's a challenging word-based game where you place tiles on top of existing words to to create new words. For example, you could use the letter "S" to transform the word "TOIL" into "SOIL" (or "TOILS"), gaining points based on the length of the word and Scrabble-like letter difficulty. My 13-year-old adores this app and has been playing it for days.
The $3.99 Penultimate for iPad application lets each of your children have their own "notebook" in which they can draw, scrawl, or otherwise write whatever kinds of notes they wish. Offering some of the best quality touch-based drawing response I've seen on the market, Penultimate is perfect for doodling, sending notes, and otherwise interacting with tree-less paper.
So there you have it. Five terrific applications that are sure to please kids, but which you may have overlooked since none of them are heavily pushed towards that market. Do you have non-child specific but kid-friendly apps that you can recommend? Let us know in the comments.