So, my daughter has her own iPad. It’s not as bad as it sounds, because it’s a hand-me-down from my husband, but she does have one. And she loves it. If it were up to Caroline, she might “play iPad” for hours each day. As it is, she plays for a few minutes in the morning while we get finish getting ready, and then for a half hour or so in the evenings, while I’m cooking dinner or bathing James. And as long as she has other people to play with, she leaves the iPad on the shelf. That said, it’s definitely her go-to solo activity, and she has some favorite iPad apps to share with you.
Caroline is three and a half, and she’s able to work these apps by herself. We usually help on the first go-round or two, but she gets frustrated if she needs too much assistance. Most of these apps work on beginning reading and counting skills, but some are just for fun. Photos via the App Store.
This is a series of games featuring a Grandpa and a Grandma, who help children practice basic reading and math skills by doing activities with them. The player goes through multiple small puzzles, then works on a reward activity like building a bookshelf or icing a cake, little by little. There are also short educational videos included. And the grandparents dance! Caroline loves this whole series. There’s Grandpa’s Workshop, Grandma’s Garden, Grandma’s Kitchen (a little harder), Grandma Loves Bugs, and Grandpa in Space. We are currently rocking Grandpa in Space several times a week.
2. Endless ABC
Caroline has learned to read some short words recently, and she credits this game for helping her sound out the letters (I credit her parents and her preschool, but the game certainly doesn’t hurt). This app allows kids to choose a word, spell it with letters that make sounds, hear it in a sentence, and watch the sentence as a funny animated video. It’s really great.
There is another good letter app called Letter Muncher, in which you either feed a word to a monster or put it in the recycling bin, based on what the initial letter sound is. Caroline likes that one too.
Like most kids her age, Caroline has been bitten by the Frozen bug in a major way. Anna and Elsa are all over our house right now. This app came with a book she received for Christmas, and she has really enjoyed playing it. It reads the story aloud for the kids, showing one sister at a time. When they turn the iPad over, it changes to the other sister’s point of view. There are also some ice puzzles and a drawing game that uses snowflakes, icicles, and icy swirls.
There is a similar app based on Angelina Ballerina that she also enjoys. It includes short videos, a read-aloud storybook, and a few games.
This is the high-tech version of paper dolls. The app itself is somewhat clunky and not as pretty as my favorites, but Caroline seems to really enjoy playing it. All you do is dress up the ballerinas and give them accessories. Or if you’re Caroline, you ask your parents for every choice what they’d like to pick, because playing with someone else is always more fun.
This is a simple music game that allows children to noodle around on different instruments. Caroline likes the harp. It does have some play-along sheet music for kids who are ready for it.
We are all big fans of the Osmo game system. Caroline received this (somewhat expensive) system as a Christmas gift, purchased after a lot of research and review reading. The Osmo is a system that includes a base and a mirror attachment to clip onto the iPad, allowing the camera to see what’s below it. It also includes three games with real life, physical manipulatives. There’s a tangram game, in which kids have to move colored shape tiles to the correct spot to make a picture (you can see this below), a reading game where they must choose the correct letter tiles and move them in front of the iPad, and a drawing game where you draw lines on paper to make an on-screen ball bounce to its targets. The drawing game is really tricky.
Somehow, these games seem to naturally become social. We all want to run over and see what Caroline is doing with her tangrams. She doesn’t need us to, really… the app tells her when she’s got it right… but it’s fun. The drawing game is such a challenge that it’s fun for adults as well as kids. What I like about the Osmo system is that it adds a real-life, social dimension to the iPad. There isn’t so much of a zone-out factor with it. We have enjoyed playing Osmo with Caroline and are eagerly awaiting the development of new games.
So, what are your favorite apps for kids?