In this day and age, children are exposed to technology practically from birth. A doting relative probably took their picture with a smartphone before they came home from the hospital! Babies see their parents use smartphones, tablets, and computers on a daily basis. It’s natural that babies and toddlers want to emulate their parents. They reach out for their parents’ phones as soon as they are able! And the truth is, sometimes a smartphone or tablet is an easy, convenient way to occupy little kids. Every parent has been stuck in a doctor’s office for much longer than expected, or been delayed on a flight with a toddler, or just hoped for five minutes of peace at the end of a long day. For those moments when parents need to occupy their children with a phone, it’s nice to use a learning game or app. Educational games and apps allow parents to keep their toddlers busy for a few minutes while providing a learning opportunity. Here are a few of the best learning games and apps available for the iPhone that are specifically geared toward toddlers.
Breath, Think, Do
For any parent who watched Sesame Street growing up, the Breath, Think, Do app from Sesame Street will be a natural choice. This app is designed to help children learn problem-solving strategies by helping a monster friend solve a problem. The app presents the challenge, then gives the child a chance to think of a solution. While thinking, the child will tap bubbles to pop them. Kids learn to “Breathe With A Monster” as a way to calm down. So kids learn to breathe, think of a solution, and then try out their solution. Parents can play, too–there’s a section just for them! Kids are not the only ones who need a little help with staying calm while solving problems.
Sizes, colors, and shapes are fundamental to children’s learning. The Shapes app takes advantage of children’s natural curiosity to teach these building blocks of learning. The app helps kids to distinguish different shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as how to pronounce them. It’s very user-friendly, so toddlers will not be easily frustrated. Its simple one-touch control allows children to practice fine motor skills and coordination as they learn their shapes and colors.
For kids who love Curious George, Sesame Street, Pinkalicious, and more, check out the PBS KIDS GAMES app. This app features a variety of educational games starring characters from PBS Kids. Toddlers can learn from their friends Daniel Tiger, the Cat in the Hat, and the Kratts brothers from the Wild Kratts. Because there are several games available, choose the ones that best your child’s interests, whether that is science, math, creativity, or others. This app comes in handy for parents as well. In addition to the games, the PBS Kids app provides your local PBS KIDS TV schedule and information about the programs, such as the target audience and learning goals.
Khan Academy, a nonprofit organization working to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere, is behind the Fish School app. This app uses colorful fish to teach numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and more. There are eight different educational activities available, so this app can keep kids busy for some time! Younger kids can work on recognizing shapes, letters, and numbers. Older children can play matching games, look for differences, and play memory. They will have so much fun playing, they won’t even realize they are learning!
Budding artists will love the Scribbaloo Paint app–and parents will love the fact that there is no actual paint to clean up! Toddlers simply simulate finger painting with an easy to use setup–just touch the color button, then digitally finger paint. The result is a watercolor picture that can be saved to your digital library for printing, emailing, or even to create cards. This painting app is a great way for children to learn about colors and creativity while practicing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Toca Kitchen Monsters
Parents love for their kids to paint, but hate to clean up the mess, and the same thing goes for cooking. The Toca Kitchen Monsters app allows kids to experience the joy of cooking without the pain of cleaning up. This app allows kids to experiment in a virtual kitchen and get actual results, good and bad. The app features two monsters who come with a different set of likes and dislikes. Kids can prepare eight different foods in a variety of ways, such as slicing, mixing, boiling, frying, microwaving, and adding seasoning. The monsters will let the chef know if something is overseasoned or overcooked! This app is fun for any kid and may be especially appealing to parents of picky eaters.
Music is a great way for children to express themselves creatively. The Musical Me! App is another educational app provided by the Khan Academy. It teaches toddlers the building blocks of music, including pitch, notes, and rhythm. Children have a natural affinity for music, and this app just plays off of that natural affinity to teach musical skills. There are five different games within the app designed to teach memory, rhythm, dance, notes, and instruments. The app utilizes popular children’s songs that may already be familiar to kids, including Skip To My Lou, Yankee Doodle, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Old MacDonald, among others.
Laugh and Learn Animal Sounds
Most toddlers love animals. If they do, chances are they will love Laugh and Learn Animal Sounds from Fisher-Price. This app teaches children the names of common animals and the sounds that they make with a playful, active interface. Children can tap the animal to hear the sound it makes, then tilt the screen to make the animal slide around. The app also features fun songs with dancing animals to amuse your children.
Download these apps to keep your toddler busy and learning at the same time.