As mentioned in a previous post, the iPad 2 has been an exceptional addition to our travel entertainment bag. There are loads of fantastic educational apps for toddlers to play with, as well as interactive books. Mid-air it’s a sanity saver and it can provides hours of entertainment. Here is a top 10 round-up of Apps that keep my toddler engaged on long journeys:
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is an app aimed at the 2 – 5 year old market. There are 7 different games so it never feels repetitive. My toddler doesn’t even realise amidst all the fun that it is a 100% educational app teaching all about colors, letters, counting, shapes, sizes, matching, and differences. A little monkey helps the player along and after each task is completed correctly the monkey’s lunchbox gets a piece of fruit which causes the monkey to flip and squeal in delight. The monkey is also encouraging when the player doesn’t produce the correct answer, and there are unlimited attempts. It’s a noisy app with cute animation, lots of music, sounds and voiceovers, all the stuff toddlers love.
Sesame Street are always on the money for knowing what toddlers love and anything that involves Elmo is sure to be a winner. Elmo Loves ABC is a jam-packed app for learning the alphabet. Kids choose a letter, trace their finger over the letter, and if correct they are presented with 3 videos about the letter. There is also the option to colour in pictures from the clips, as well as a hide and seek game. Elmo is continually in the background encouraging your toddler forward. This game does involve some level of parental participation as tracing over the letters is not always easy for a toddler (however, my 2 year old can crack the odd letter on her own now and again). This app also includes a couple of fun versions of the alphabet song. Overall there is lots of variety and fun.
A simple concept that is extremely engaging, my toddler returns to this ap on her own over and over again. Aimed at the 2 – 4 year old market, it teaches about the relationship between visual learning and learning through sound association. Sound Touch has over 250 pictures and sounds. Kids simply tap on a picture in one of the categories and a corresponding photo and sound pops up. There are six categories – household items, wild animals, domestic animals, birds, vehicles and musical instruments. What I like about this app is that there are at least five different photos and sounds for each picture so it’s not repetitive and teaches about variety and differences.
Fish School is a very basic app for learning letters, numbers, shapes and colours and if you have a fish lover in your house it will be popular (so popular that ours has accidentally been deleted twice because Miss M holds her finger on the app for too long when opening). The game involves a school of fish who transform themselves with each swipe into letters, numbers or shapes. There is also a game to pick out fish with particular colours and differences. It’s a great introduction to the ABC song as your toddler can set the pace of the tune.
Most young kids love music, and this app is devoted entirely to teaching the fundamental components of music (not an ABC or number in site!). Mozzarella the Mouse takes your toddler on a musical journey through five activities that explore pitch, rhythm, notes and instrumentation. Even I enjoy playing the memory game on Musical Me!
Elmo is presented with a group of faceless monsters (that is monsters in the Sesame street sense, not the scary variety) and it is up to the player to design the monsters with eyes, nose, mouth, horns, ears, hats etc. Elmo’s Monster Maker is more of a fun and artistic app from Sesame Street compared to their usual relentless education angle. However, it does subtly teach about faces and facial features. Great for encouraging independent thought and creativity!
I love the opening music in this one, very funky! Peekaboo Wild is an uncomplicated game of peek-a-boo with 10 African wild animals. The animal hides in the long grass, the toddler taps the screen and the animal is revealed with a cute voiceover of the animal’s name and the sound it makes. It has 2 language options – English and Spanish.
Itsy Bitsy Spider is a cute and fun app based on the classic children’s song. It’s well animated and there’s lots interaction as most elements on the screen move, speak or partake in amusing antics. To navigate between the 3 screens your toddler simply taps the spider. It has lots of built in learning activities, such as questions about nature, counting, finding hidden eggs, making music with the musical eggs and stacking hats on the spider. You can even record your own rendition of the song!
The Thomas & Friends Misty Island Rescue app is aimed at the 4 – 6 year old market, so for a younger child parental participation may be necessary. It has great animation with lots of interactive elements, including a read along story, a connect the dots game, animated puzzles and painting activities. If you have a Thomas fan, they’ll love this app. The puzzles in particular are a favourite in our household.
In the Night Garden HD is an ever so simple app and for an adult it comes across as a little lacking in content, but for a 2 year old who loves ‘In the Night Garden’ it’s the bees knees! Using the Night Garden characters and locations you can play hide and seek or you can help Makka Pakka wash things. It has all the signature songs and dancing, so to put it simply ‘YES’ you will have to listen to the Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy song over and over again, and you may also never get your hands on your iPad again.