Top 5 Apps for Kids You Don't Want to Miss.

Chris Crowell is a veteran kindergarten teacher and contributing editor to Children's Technology Review, a web-based archive of articles and reviews on apps, technology toys and video games. Download a free issue of CTR here.

This week's top apps for kids have one thing in common: beauty. From an iPad-turned-planetarium to an intricately illustrated e-book, your kids will be learning — and awe-ing — from these apps that are visually pleasing yet still educational.Our friends at Children's Technology Review shared with us these 5 top apps from their comprehensive monthly database of kid-tested reviews. The site covers everything from math and counting to reading and phonics.

Star Walk HD-5 : Ages 8-up - Overall rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars
Why we like it: You can turn your iPhone or iPad into a planetarium -- how cool is that? Point your iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone at the sky (or ceiling) to harness the power of an augmented reality system paired with a database of the stars. The program uses your camera, compass, current location and accelerometers so you can turn your screen, like a periscope, to line up a celestial object.

Need to know: There's not much to not like about this app. This is one of the best science apps you can buy. It’s especially great for clear winter nights.

Ease of use: 9/10
Educational: 10/10
Entertaining: 10/10


It's a Small World : Ages 3-6 - Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Why we like it: Beautifully illustrated with narration by children, this app contains fully orchestrated background music and related hot spots that are well designed and help the story along. Even subtle items, such the rings of the sun shown in the African scene, can be spun with a swipe. As they move, they give off a rattle that fits nicely in the background music.

Need to know: If you're expecting visuals from the famous ride, you may be disappointed. If you're looking for a nice bedtime book with exposure to quality art and music, this is a good choice.At 133 MB, this is a large download. It's also a rare Disney production that is completely free of mouse ears. Walt would, most likely, be pleased.

Ease of use: 9/10
Educational: 8/10
Entertaining: 10/10


Numberlys : Ages 5-up - Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Why we like it: Pricey but astounding, The Numberlys will go down as the most zany, beautiful alphabet book ever made. It comes from the studio that created The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Lawrence Lessmore.

Need to know: The comical narrator has a thick (perhaps Russian) -sounding accent. The navigation system makes it easy to jump between pages, and there are options that let you turn on/off the help and/or the narrator. Because of the way in which the art, interactivity and story work hand-in-hand, this title was awarded an honorable mention in the 2012 BolognaRagazzi Digital Awards.

Ease of use: 9/10
Educational: 9/10
Entertaining: 10/10

Rounds: Parker Penguin : Ages 3-6 - Overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Why we like it: This innovative app stretches the definition of e-book, with a dash of Nosy Crow irreverence. Rounds: Franklin Frog is the first title in the series of nonfiction apps that deal with life-cycles. We like how it breaks the typical patterns.

Need to know:
The background music is extremely well done and stays in the background, but you can't turn it off or separate it from the narration or other sounds. This criticism is more relevant for classroom settings.

Ease of use: 9/10
Educational: 10/10
Entertaining: 8/10


The Opposites : Ages 7-up - Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Why we like it: Do you know what "'efficacious" means? This fast-paced word-sorting game provides practice with opposing words of the variety that just might end up on an SAT someday.

Need to know: The words starts easy, with word pairs, like "up-down," but get harder, with custom words drawn from biology, economics, politics, medicine, poetry and classical Greek prefixes. The levels can be a little harsh, especially when the words are drawn from a large list.

Ease of use: 8/10
Educational: 9/10
Entertaining: 9/10