I admit, as unpopular as it is these days, I am not anti-TV. We all enjoy a little downtime watching shows, and let’s be honest, parking the boys in front of an episode of Team Umizoomi can be the only way I get dinner on the table some nights. I do, however, believe in limiting screen time and making sure the content is age appropriate. Same goes for apps on the iPad. The right content, right time and place, and it’s great. A lifesaver, even. When is a good time to break out the iPad and headphones for some quiet time? A 5+ hour flight to Hawaii, that’s when!
Some kids’ apps are simply games, but others are much, much more. Here’s a list of our top three favorite apps. They are well designed, intuitive, educational, and best of all, fun!
1) The Math Tree. This is currently Bennett’s favorite app. He is his father’s son and therefore is interested in numbers. The Math Tree is beautifully designed and easy to use: there is a tree with birds that you either add-to or subtract-from by dragging a bird with your finger. A calm and pleasant voice says the numbers out loud to make the connection, and after counting them up, the answer appears as part of a multiple choice selection. I really like the combination of number recognition along with counting and quantity. It’s putting it all together for Bennett in his little brain. While we were waiting in the security line at the airport last week, Bennett exclaimed, “Look! It’s MATH!” I looked over to see what he was pointing to, and sure enough, it was the 3 ounces + 1 Quart bag+ 1 per person security sign. Ha! I’m surprised this app is only $0.99 as it performs much better than several other more expensive math apps.
2) Nick Jr. Draw & Play. I have to say, it is pretty unreal how cool this art app is. There are tons of tools, many of them are animated with fun effects. You choose your background and then can draw with crayons, markers, chalk, or paint – all of which have color and size options galore. You can use stickers of our favorite Nick Jr characters like Diego or Bot. You can upload your own pictures to color or embellish, and of course there is a share feature. The possibilities are basically endless and it’s age appropriate for young toddler through older preschoolers. We’ve had the app for about six months and I notice new features all the time. There are frequent and seasonal updates, which was particularly fun around Christmastime when we made eCards for our friends. I just checked the price and it’s currently on sale for $2.99.
3) Cupcakearoo! We learned about Cupcakearoo! through our BabbaBox free download. It’s such a sweet app and simple enough for toddlers like Graham but layered enough to keep Bennett interested, too. Basically, you make your own cupcakes starting with either a recipe or mix. We usually choose the recipe route because adding each ingredient to the mixing bowl is part of the fun. After baking them, the fun really starts with the decorating step. There are so many options for frosting and toppings that I wish they were real! Once your masterpiece is finished, you can “eat” your cupcake or share it with a friend through email. (When you use this feature the recipient gets a picture of your creation along with the recipe. It’s so cute – grandmas in particular love it!) Of course the makers of this app know they’ve got a good thing, so there are several other variations on this theme including doughnuts, popcorn, cookies and ice cream. We have – and enjoy – them all as they are only $0.99 each.