As with everything, it is all about balance – ensuring screentime is measured with plenty of greentime – but good apps can boost literacy, help numeracy, as well as teach language and social skills.
A visit to the App Store can be overwhelming, with hundreds of apps and never knowing which are the good finds. However, rest assured that the kids’ apps in the Featured list are all curated by an Australian team – tested and chosen by early learning specialists and assessed for good learning outcomes. So, games actually have to EARN their spot in that recommended list.
Here are our six favourite apps at the moment for preschoolers:
Little Digits is a fun, counting app that teaches counting by detecting how many fingers you put down on the screen. There are also games that introduce small addition and subtraction calculations. Great for working collaboratively with preschoolers, you can both put fingers down to work out the answer together, until they are able to figure out the answer themselves.
Metamorphabet is an interactive alphabet, where you explore a shape on the screen. With gorgeous animation, you watch letters transform into different objects that begin with that letter. You need to play with each shape to get to the next letter, making you pause and investigate every letter.
Free, with in app purchases for extra levels
Quick Math Jr is a counting, early learning game for 3–7 year olds. By adjusting the difficulty of the questions, the app adapts with the child from early counting through to primary school level, to make sure each individual player is always at the appropriate level. Players also progress from multiple choice to handwritten answers. The app teachers number sequences up to 100, skip counting by twos, threes, fives and tens, basic addition and subtraction and practicing writing numerals.
We love the Toca series of apps, and Toca Blocks is another great addition. A unique world-building app, Toca Blocks lets you create and explore the worlds you imagine. Construct worlds, fill them with paths, create race tracks, obstacle courses, floating islands. Some blocks are bouncy, others are sticky; the blocks are living, evolving materials and each inhabitant of the world has a different way of interacting with them. Scratch the surface you’ll find there is even more to discover, and combine blocks together to make new building blocks. The app can also use the camera function to take snapshots and add to import into friends’ worlds.
Bob is back! He’s a snail on a mission and needs your help to get through each level. This is a fabulous problem-solving game that encourages creative thinking and experimenting with outcomes. We love that Bob is nice and slow, and you can tap him to stop moving at anytime, giving you time to consider the best path to take. Snail Bob is a great game to play together as you work with your little one to get Bob to the other side.
Full version $4.49, or free lite version
An interactive book for ages 3–6 that tells the story of Alex, Max and Leo, who live far away from their grandparents and miss them very much. Each page has interactive elements to discover that help you move onto the next page – help make courage cookies to get Granny on the plane, put them in the mail, and help clear the snow away with Grandpa. The book is free, the full version also have bonus games with basic maths skills and problem solving.
$2.99, or free lite version
Fuzzy House is a cute dolls house app, aimed at imaginative play, for kids ages 4–8, though younger kids will also enjoy it. The house is the home of the Fuzzies, a cosy house built out of old cardboard boxes and with furniture made from recycled bits and bobs. You can move items around the rooms, have a tea party, put a record on the player, or sit by the fire and play guitar. There is plenty to discover and interact with, and the app is supported by a great website with ideas for make and create, and knitting.
Do you kids regularly use an iPad? Here are 7 amazing iPad features that EVERY parent should know about.
Concerned about the amount of screentime your little one is getting? Check out our recent article: Ditch the Techno Guilt!