A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published May 24th 2012
There are some great apps out there for your littlies when it comes to the iPad. I'm no fan of unlimited screen time for tinies and sticking your two year old in front of the screen for hours at a time is certainly not to be recommended, but a few short sessions a week (we aim for 20ish minutes) can open little eyes to a whole new world of discovery and fun.
My family are a bit behind the game, being the proud owners of an iPad for only a couple of months now. In that short time however, we have found some great apps which really appeal to our almost three year old son. He probably doesn't realise that whilst he's enjoying himself, he's also developing his hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, colour, shape and number recognition and story-telling abilities. Being a primary school teacher by trade, I have to confess that I get a very warm glow when I see him confidently locating an octagon or manipulating puzzle pieces into place.
Below are 8 of my favourite apps (or should I say my son's favourite apps) that we've discovered so far. They are generally appropriate from around toddler age and many have different levels of difficulty so they will grow with your child. Do some research yourself and see if you can come up with any more suggestions.
• Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – A very charming monkey will lead you through a series of puzzles and simple tasks, such as finding matching pairs and picking fruit of a particular colour. When you have completed four or five tasks, you'll be rewarded with a sticker for your sticker page. This is my son's all time favourite.
• Wheels on the Bus – Great for very little children. As the song is played, each verse has an interactive picture which you can manipulate by swishing the wipers, moving the children up and down, turning the wheels on the bus and so on. You can also record your own voice singing the song to accompany the pictures.
• I See Ewe – A very simple but effective app. This encourages colour, number, object and shape recognition through two games. One involves finding matching pairs of the aforementioned list and the other involves identifying them from a range of possibilities.
• Playschool Art Maker – If your child enjoys the TV show Playschool, they'll love this. They can choose a scene and add all their favourite characters to it by touching and dragging the pictures. When finished they can take a 'photo' of their creation or make it into a video with sound.
• Splatter – Your finger becomes a paintbrush as you choose colours and paint on the screen. When you're done, shake the screen and you can start all over again. One for the budding Picassos.
• Bob the Builder: Muck's Train to Trouble – This app has four different elements to it. You can listen to a Bob the Builder story and manipulate the accompanying pictures, watch an episode of Bob the Builder, find all the machines hidden around Sunflower Valley or paint pictures of Bob and his friends. The best part of the paint section is the 'magic paint' which colours the whole picture neatly in the correct colours just by moving your finger over it.
• Playtime With Dora The Explorer – Dora invites you to play three different games. One is a puzzle game where you're required to drag pieces into the correct spot (great for fine motor skills and coordination). Another is a matching memory game and the third is a sort of I-Spy affair. There are varying levels of difficulty with the memory and I-Spy sections. Dora fans will love this one.
• Sound Shaker – This allows even very young children to create their own music. Pick an instrument or sound to work with and tap the screen to make little balls appear. Each ball makes a noise as it bumps around the screen and you can vary the pitch by making the balls bigger or smaller. This is done by holding your finger on them for varying amounts of time. If you hold on for a very long time, the ball will hatch like an egg and a little chick will appear.
Great suggestions thanks! We like Monkey's lunchbox too. I can also recommend "my first app" (an Eric Carle matching game), "Tozzle" (fantastic jigsaw puzzle game) and "Kid Art" (a good drawing programme).