Best Apps for Kids
We have tested and played around with a whole host of Apps that can be used on the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, and NOOK. Here are some of the best ones we have found.
This weeks pick
This weeks app Peekaboo Barn by Night and Day Studios, was one recommended to me by my friend Jenny. Her son loves playing with animals, and she seems to have found the best possible animal app for the ipad and iphone. As the name delinieates, there is a barn with an animal inside. When you click on the barn doors, you will hear the sound of an animal inside. By this sound, your little one has to guess which animal is hiding behind the doors. This app is such a fun way to learn the names of different farm animals and the sounds that they make. You have a bunch of setting options like the voice of the narrator, or if you would like the animals named in English or Spanish. The cost for the app is $1.99 and for $1.00 extra, you can purchase 4 more languages. Now through January 5th ’tis the season at the barn with snow, twinkly lights and fun costumes!
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this app will help get your kids in the turkey spirit. Hand Turkey is a drawing app for the ipad that lets your children trace their hand on the screen, then helps them create a turkey out of it! You can link the drawing to facebook and to twitter, or send to your computer and print out to hang in the house. No more of our old fashion hand tracing…this is the new age in hand turkeys! Best part…IT’S FREE!
This is an app for all animal lovers alike. And lets face it, kids loooove animals. I certainly know Sloane does being that her first word was DOG! I mean no mama or dada, just DOG! This app is designed by Peapod’s ABC Series in collaboration with Zooborns.com. It is a fun and educational way to get your kids to learn animal names, watch interesting and captivating animal videos and learn the letters that make up the names of the animals they love. This app is designed for children 1+ (three cheers for you if you are able to get your 1 year old to sit long enough to look at the pictures) because of the mixture of pictures, sounds, videos, spoken facts and games. There are so many interesting facts about animals ranging from aardvarks to zebra’s that even I was enthralled. Sloane loved looking at the pictures of the animals and listening to the sounds that they make. The app is $2.99 but it is really worth the price.
Addition and Subtraction for Kids
Sometimes we just need our kids to practice a skill without any gimmicks or side tricks. This weeks pick is an app that is FREE and is pretty straightforward. The app is called Addition and Subtraction for Kids and it works on addition and subtraction skills using underwater animals. In this app, an addition or subtraction problem is shown with numbers. The app then shows the problem using manipulatives (in this game these are the fishes but manipulatives can be anything else you use to help your child solve a math problem). If the problem is addition, it shows adding on one fish, if subtraction it will X out the amount of fish that are being taken away. There are 10 problems in each of the 5 levels. As you progress through the levels, the problems get harder. This app is a good way to help your child to practice basic skills and feel good about their abilities.
Win it! Playground HD – a huge game collection
I am not usually one for choosing to purchase apps that are more than $.99 or $1.99 but the Win it! Playground HD app at $4.99 is TOTALLY worth it. Win it! is a collection of 12 different games all put into one convenient application. One of the first great features I noticed about this app is that it is really usuer friendly listing all the differnt games about in pictures. If your little ones are just beginning to learnt to read, the pictures really help them choose which game it is they want to play.
The 12 games that are included in this app range from a matching game, t0 drawing, and even playing the piano. There are also 2 puzzle games, and a game where you have to figure out what is wrong in the picture. Another fabulous feature about this app is it lets the parents set a timer on how long the child can play. Once you set the timer with the time, the iPad will lock when the time is up. It’s a great way to limit the amount of time that your child is playing.
If you want an app that is mulit-functional this is the app for you!
Elmo Loves ABC’s
In the app Elmo Loves ABC’s by Sesame Street, your young children can work on learning the name, the sound, and the way to write the letters of the alphabet. When each letter comes to the screen, you trace it to unlock the surprises beneath. Within the app there are over eighty clips from sesame street programs, lots of sesame street coloring pages, and even a few letter games to see how much you have actually learned. You can hear the alphabet song sung four different ways, and you can find different materials that start with your favorite letters.
For the grown ups, the app has an ABC tracker to see how your child is doing, and what they have been working on. The app works on many letter skills including letter identification, letter sounds, and letter graphemes (the way the letters look). It’s a super fun app that immediatly caputures little people’s attention.
Letters A to Z
Letters A to Z is an app created by True Learning that helps your children to learn their letters. It’s fun and engaging and feels more like your playing a game than learning letters. The board consists of animated flash cards that have a letter and a corresponding word. You can use the settings to set the letters to be in uppercase (ABC) or in lowercase (abc). This app works great for children that are both learning and practicing their letters. When you tap the letter, your little one will hear the name of the letter. When you tap the picture on the card, the app will play the phonetic sound of the letter as part of the word. You can even change the setting so that instead of saying the name of the letter when you touch it, it just plays the phonetic sound.
We love this app becuase it is simple and straighforward and teaches a really important skill!
Memory Train is an app created by Piikea street that works on your ability to remember images. Spacey the elephant rides on a train and all the while shapes, numbers, and colors pass him by outside. He does his best to remember what he sees outside the window. The more he remembers the farther the train moves and the closer he gets to the circus.
What is fabulous about this app is that it can automate the level of difficulty for the ability of your child. Soooo if your child really whizzed through one of the challenges, the app will adjust and make the train move faster. If your child is struggling, the oposite will happen. This app is good for children ages 3+. It is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch.
BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week
The BrainPOP Jr. movies are a younger version of the original BrainPOP ones. The App that you can download on your iPad, iPod, or iPhone is FREE. The App shows a new short movie each week featuring some area of education. The characters in the short movies are Annie, a young girl, and Moby a robot. Moby is usually helping Annie complete a task. The skill that Annie and Moby are working on will show on the screen as the movie starts, and then will usually be repeated by Annie as she tries to solve the task with Moby.
Throughout the movie Annie and Moby go over all the inns and outs of the subject they are discussing. This week, Annie and Moby are learning about vowels. As they go through the movie, they search for all different words that have short vowels. They also talk about word patterns, word rules, and ideas on how to help yourself read big words. The subjects can be a little bit complicated, so even though the App suggests that it works for children 5-9, unless your child has had specific instruction in the weekly movie subject, I would say that the movie would be more for pleasure than for knowledge practice. If the information does seem to far above your childs maturity level, it can still be an interesting and fun short movie to watch (and keep them entertained for a little!)
This weeks app is Animatch created by Doodle Jump. This game is a digital version of the all time favorite game memory. It’s an easy enough game to navigate, no options or hoops to jump through when you start a game. As soon as you open it, your kids are ready to get going. Just as in memory, you need to flip over two cards until you find a pair. The game works on your childs concentration, memory, and cognitive skills which are all utilized to remember and then find matching animals. The kicker for Animatch is that when you successfully match a pair of these super cute graphics, they wiggle bright yellow and make a noise. The pairs that you do find stay flipped over until you have matched all the pairs on the board.
It is a perfect first app for young children starting around age 2. The app does keep score (not my favortie part of the game), but it’s easy to ignore and not pay any attention to it. You can also play this game with your child, by taking turns trying to find matches.
This app is available for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.
Grandma’s garden by Fairylady Media is a wonderful educational app for the toddler and preschool clan. There are 5 mini games available for your child to play: count, match, or color vegetables, first letters, and shapes. IIn the counting game, your little one will help grandma count the vegetables in her bag. The matching game puts your memory to work by matching pairs of veggies. For coloring, you will swipe the veggie to reveal its color. For the shapes mini game, grandma asks you “which one is the triangle?” and your little one has to pick the triangle out of the group.
When you start out the game for your little one, the tasks just keep coming. There is nothing that your child has to do to make another “challenge” appear. The game itself keeps rotating through the different challenges so your child will never have to choose which game to play…unless of course they want to. The grandma also only offers positive feedback. If your child gets the answer wrong, the grandma holds on to her positive comment until they have completed the task correctly.
This app is sure to keep your little one occupied and learning. When they come away from this app, they will likely know a whole array of vegetables including: broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, and pumpkin! This app is available for iPad and iPhone only.
This weeks app is a FREE (yes I mean totally free) one called Awesome EATS! developed by Fun Machine. The premise of this app is that you have to follow the written and visual directions to put veggies and fruit into their correct categories. The reason we love this app so much is that it not only promotes healthy eating habits, but it also works on your childs ability to categorize, sort, and follow directions.
When you open the app, there is a short 10 second scene of two children first planting a seed, then watering it, and then harvesting it to produce a fully grown vegetable. Each level includes about 5 or 6 rounds. In each round you are given a set of written directions, and then a visual of what you are supposed to do. Sometimes you may need to put all the apples together, and other times you may need to seperate the broccolli from the carrots.
When you put the veggie or piece of fruit in the right place it jumps for joy with a big smile. As you complete levels, the challenges get harder.
Were you wondering why this app is free? Well it’s funded by Whole Kids, a foundation run by the Whole Foods company which works to promote health and wellness for children. This app is available for the iphone, ipad, and android devices
Monkey Math School Sunshine
Monkey Math School Sunshine is an app that helps your child practice a whole host of early math skills like counting, tracing, and pattern recognition. One of the great parts of this game is that when you are trying to find an answer to the questions, there will be 3 crabs underneath the problem giving you 3 options of what the answer could be. This is very helpful for young children because they can often have a hard time producing the answer when there are no possible suggestions.
As you can see above, the area that needs to be filled in is always outlined by a blank box. If you drag the wrong answer up, the monkey shakes his head no and the answer flies back to its crab. But when you get the answer correct, the monkey jumps around and does a trick. Sometimes, the monkey will even count out the sequence for you. So if the problem gives you 1, 2, 3, 4, and your child has to fill in the 5, when he or she gets the right answer, the monkey will count out the number sequence.
The image on the screen constantly rotates from a big board like the one above to a beach with seashells. When your child gets enough questions correct, they get to pick an underwater prize for their aquarium. The only problem can sometimes arise when there are too many prizes in the aquarium and it gets over flooded. At that point you would need to restart a new game. This app is so much fun your child will come close to forgetting that they are practicing math skills. This app is available for the iPad, iPhone, and Android
Chicktionary, a spelling game by blockdot, is a fun filled way to practice spelling. You are given 7 letters( that show up on the body of a chick) and you need to scramble those letters up to make as many words as you can. In an egg crate above the chickens, it shows you how many words can actually be made with your given letters. You can move the chickens round to have a different visual outlook of the letters.
You achieved points by spelling words. The point value of the word increases with the amount of letters you use. If you use your letters to spell a word that does not actually exist, when you hit enter your word will disappear. Each proper word that you do create is stored in the egg crate above the chickens.
With the free download you get 100 easy puzzles. There are about 10 other options available for purchase with trickier word puzzles. You also have two options when playing. You can race against a 3 minute clock to see how many words you can get in the allotted 3 minutes ( works best for 1st grade and up, or when two kids are playing against each other) OR you can have unlimited time which gives the child freedom to focus and take their time spelling ( best for preschoolers-kindergarteners).
We have found that when our students played with this app they didn’t realize that they were actually practicing their spelling. This app is available for the iPhone and the iPad.
The Singing Alphabet
This App is called The Singing Alphabet by Ministry of Letters. This is a phonics based app that incorporates music to make learning the letters of the alphabet and their matching sounds fun! It starts off with what looks like a colorful hand drawn picture of 1950′s France. After about 15 seconds a curtain opens with the alphabet board above. The letters are each bouncing slightly up and down all with little eyes opening and closing. When you click on a letter a music note appears above it so you know which letter is currently playing. A strumming guitar sound comes on as you hear the sound of the letter. As long as you don’t touch that letter again, the app will continue making that letters sound. To stop it from playing a letter sound, just tap that letter again. Some of the letters make a short sound like the the P goes p,p,p,p, while the M goes mmmmmmmm, and the T does a beat-box of the “t” sound. You can tap a few letters at once to hear what they all sound like together, or do each letter individually. This app is really great for learning letter sounds, and for practicing them. This app is available for the iPad only.
This app is called My Baby Piano and is made by DOKDOAPPS. It sounds just like a real piano when you touch each of the keys. The buttons up top allow you to solely hear the sounds of the keys, play simulated music, or have a constant drum beat. This app is great for helping your children learn rhythm, pay attention to color, and for entertainment. S loves it, except for the fact that I have the free version and there are ads at the top. Sometimes she clicks on them and is directed away from the piano (which is kind of annoying) This app is available for download on the Android, iphone, and ipad.