Have you ever wondered how to find the best apps for kids when using iPads or iPhones? We’ve put together a list of apps that might be just what the kids want — and also what they need.
Every parent has an opinion on letting toddlers use tablets. Whatever side you choose, iPads could be beneficial when used in certain situations with limits applied. These tools can supplement what your toddler is already learning — and can give a parent a small break (gasp) or help calm your baby at the doctor’s office.
Baby Flash Cards: Encyclopedia Lite
My daughter loves to identify objects on her own. We work with tangible flash cards and then supplement her comprehension with this application. Categories include animals, fruit, vegetables, vehicles and everyday use. It also has the sound associated with each picture, which is better than my attempts at chirping like a bird.
PBS KIDS Video
Two words: Sesame Street. Many of us fondly remember this PBS classic, but there are also new PBS shows that are just as educational and family-friendly. The PBS application allows you to select a specific show and watch in its entirety. It also gives you a sense of security, knowing that everything is parent-approved.
It’s designed for kids 2-8 years, which is a pretty wide range but that’s part of the learning plan at ABCmouse, with 10 different levels designed to grow with your child. The app has more than 850 lessons and 10,000 activities covering reading, math, science, and art & colors. The first 30 days are free; ABCmouse is about $10 per month if you continue with a subscription.
Peek-a-Zoo Lite: Toddler Peekaboo at the Zoo
From the sea to the zoo, these free applications help your toddler learn the types of animals and the sounds they make. It also demonstrates cause and effect, as your toddler must touch the screen for a creature to appear. This is one of those free applications that may hook you to want more and download the upgraded versions for $1.99 to $2.99, which is still pretty cheap.
Sound Touch Lite
This application displays cartoon pictures of animals and vehicles. When you touch one, a real picture will pop up as well as the sound that item or animal makes. The ads can get annoying, but it’s still a fun option to help your kids learn everyday objects.
Baby Sign Language Dictionary
The life of a toddler can be frustrating without the proper tools to communicate. This American Sign Language app can help parents and babies learn simple signs to assist with basic requests. The Lite version has a very limited selection of signs, but it’s a good start for a beginner.
YouTube may seem obvious, but I didn’t realize how many videos are available that are geared toward toddlers until I searched. Enter “Baby Einstein” and many options will pop up from “Discovering Shapes” to “Meet the Orchestra.” Make sure you are sitting with your baby as these play to make sure they are the videos you intended. I always put a limit on the amount of time my daughter can watch a video and make sure the rest of her day is filled with interactive and outdoor play. As a parent, you can also use YouTube to learn tips like how to cook baby food or brush your toddler’s teeth.
For Older Kids
iBiome-Wetlands: Upper elementary and middle school students will have fun with this iPad app offering hands-on, experiential ways to review and reinforce critical science concepts. The app has great animation and graphics to keep kids engaged in learning. Users are motivated to earn badges that denote success. This is a great way to learn more about ecosystems and biology concepts. A great investment for $2.99.
Presidents vs. Aliens: Who knew learning about presidents could be so much fun? If you have a child who needs to learn more about presidential history, this is a fun and entertaining app for $1.99. As you learn presidential facts, quotes, nicknames and historical events, you can use your knowledge to help the presidents defeat the aliens. Fling the presidents at the aliens to knock them all down. Use the many special objects and “Executive Powers” to increase the fun. Don’t ask why this is so much fun for kids – just go with it!
30/30: If you have tweens/teens who just can’t seem to stay on track with assignments and deadlines, try this app. You set up a list of tasks, and a length of time for each of them. When you start the timer, it will tell you when to move on to the next task. It’s especially helpful when multiple projects are being juggled simultaneously. Tweens/teens often get too engaged in one project, only to let another one fall. This app may be the answer. The app is FREE.
Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History: A fantastic app especially for boys or girls who love to learn more about dinosaurs. The app contains a mosaic of more than 1,000 images from the museum’s archive, woven together to create a striking image of the Pterosaur. FREE app for all ages but especially great for older kids.
iSign Alphabet: Learn the American Sign Language alphabet with this app. FREE and fun for all ages while teaching a valuable skill.
Quick Math Jr. : This free app has 12 math games with graphics and buildable characters that makes numbers fun Answers must be written or drawn on the screen, so kids from age 4 to age 8 can practice their handwriting skills.
LightBot: Although this app is $2.99, it teaches kids coding skills like sequencing, conditionals and overloading by working through a series of puzzles.
Swift Playgrounds: Another coding app that is free, kids will learn code by taking on challenges and solving puzzles.
Avoid these apps
And while we’re talking about apps, there are some apps that should definitely be avoided. Here are a few apps we suggest parents learn more about to keep kids safe:
Snap Chat: Allows users to send images and videos to friends with a time limit on how long they are available. Many teens use this to send inappropriate photos.
Ask.fm: A favorite networking site used by teens and pre-teens. However, since the app is anonymous, it may encourage bullying or inappropriate content.
Yik Yak: An app that gives a live feed of what people are saying around you. It’s used by a lot of high school and college kids and has a lot of inappropriate language and conversations. The app is supposedly private, but we know in the world of social media, nothing is really private.
For more articles on Living on the Cheap:
12 ways to kill time without technology
Great free educational websites
Kids activities for a rainy or snowy day
Tech tools and apps for seniors
Best apps to stay productive on the go