As I mentioned in this post, my preschooler daughter has an iPad, a gift from her grandparents when she turned two years old. It’s been a great addition to the family and much to our surprise, she’s not addicted to it, she doesn’t need to have it everyday, and when it’s time to turn it off she rarely has a meltdown (but it definitely has been known to happen).
I like to brag about how I find most of my daughter’s (and my own!) favorite apps for free. I thought for sure I would start out this first official Kid App Review in the series with a write up of our favorite free app. The only thing is, more often than not I find apps on “sale”—free or with a temporary price reduction. That said, this first review isn’t for a free app. It’s actually some of the more “pricey” apps I’ve purchased, but I cannot recommend these more highly.
I can’t say enough about this app, starting with the fact that it’s 18 “games” in one app. And they are all exercises in learning a certain skill—counting, sorting, hand-eye coordination, memory matching, pattern identification, even simple physics and more. The music is also fabulous and at times ethereal and mystical. It provides a great soundtrack and keeps your energy up.
Kids love bugs and this app has a lot of them. The graphics are delightful, with whimsical illustrated characters, themes and movement. This is important to me because not only does my kid need to be engaged by the app, but as you’re supervising or playing along, you want it to be pleasing to you as well. It doesn’t take long to have an app just grate against your nerves because of bad music, a bad interface or both.
My daughter has quickly become very adept at the tablet’s touch interface. She seems to instinctively know what and where to touch or swipe to create an action, even when I, on the other hand, see nothing to indicate where or what to do. The “Bugs” apps are great in another way for this non-digital-native person in that they include on-screen hints in the form of icons that help you understand what to do to initiate action. She doesn’t always need the hints, but I really find them helpful.
We found Bugs & Buttons a while ago and I loved it so much I kept my eye out for more apps from this developer. And we weren’t disappointed:
As I mentioned, we love the Bugs and Buttons app immensely, so much that when I discovered there was a second app by little bit studios, I barely read the description before purchasing “Bugs & Bubbles.”
I especially loved the handwriting exercises on this one. My daughter learned to write her name and most of the uppercase alphabet when she was barely three years old before she started preschool, in part thanks to this app. This one also has 18 games with various learning areas for each.
The same for the third app in this series, as soon as I was aware of its availability I hopped on the App Store to check it out:
Notice a theme here? Again 18 games in one app. I could almost keep my preschooler entertained with only these three apps for months. This one is all about numbers as you could probably guess. Counting to 100, fractions, money identification (coins) and counting, telling time, shapes and sizes, and more are covered. Of the three of the “Bugs” apps I have to say that this one is my favorite, probably because it’s math oriented, but also because it’s on the higher edge of my preschooler’s ability and requires a bit more involvement by dear old mom. She can’t as easily say “I can do it by myself” and I get to participate with her.
I encourage you to check to see if the developer of an app you love makes additional apps and check back often to see if they’ve added new ones. Many times, if you like the quality of the first, you’ll like the subsequent apps. There are several app makers for which I keep an eye out for new offerings. Duck Duck Moose, Peapod Labs, Spinlight Studios, Toca Boca to name a few. An added benefit to being on the lookout for related apps is that often times (not always) there is a similar user interface and “logic” in a particular developers apps that allow for kid users to begin learning and having fun in a very short time.
The “Bugs” apps are a great trio because with the addition of the “Bugs and Numbers” app, the suite makes for a great learning and entertainment platform for young kids. More than 50 educational games for under $9? I think that’s a pretty good deal.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite apps for school-aged kids?
In the next Kid App Review: A few terrific free apps!