You can’t go anywhere in the world today without seeing someone using some form of technology, and we even find it acceptable for the youngest of children to join the technology party. So, why not use technology to your child’s advantage instead of merely playing unmindful games?
Here is a list of some of the most recent highly-rated education-based applications for your early childhood aged (two to nine years old) student:
My Beastly ABCs
An amusing way to learn the ABCs, My Beastly ABC’s uses the names of monsters, mythological creatures, and historic figures. It’s an animated story, with goofy monsters, and the rhyming, rhythmic narration is fun even for adults. For an ABC book app that’s 39 pages full of whimsical characters and only $2.99, you can’t go wrong. Makes us wish we had iPads when we were kids.
Splash Math is a multi-award winning app series used by over 4 million children (on iPads, laptops, and desktops) in 8,000 schools, and is aligned to Common Core math standards. The series covers grades 1 through five, and each grade app has a paid and a “lite” free version. The “Splash Math – Grade 1 to 5″ app is free and a good intro into the series. For evaluation, you can skip the sign-up and try it out. Set up the app for your child by entering their name and grade level. Lessons are self-paced, interactive and give rewards in the form of points, games and other prizes. Explanations are given for wrong answers, and new math topic categories are unlocked as points are accumulated. There are too many topics to list here, though in the free version, you’re only getting a preview. If you want more, from this free app, you can make in-app “lifetime” purchases for each grade, as well as a parent subscription.
Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch
Wonky Star’s award-winning “Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch” helps kids creatively through an ongoing series of drawing and writing missions. (The app asks adults to register so that kids can receive daily updates for drawing and other creative missions.) The drawing interface has unlimited ‘undo’ capability, making it easier for kids to improve their drawing and painting skills while having fun participating in a world of time-traveling elephants and giraffe spies that defeat Fear Monsters. Don’t be surprised if you hear your child roaring, as that’s the secret to unlocking special stories. Parents and teachers can participate through the online dashboard.
Award-winning educational app publisher L’Escapadou’s Writing Wizard app helps kids learn handwriting of letters of the alphabet through tracing, as well as words and phonics with voiceover audio. Kids learn to write letters of the alphabet through animated clues showing the order of strokes. Sound effects and special graphics make learning more fun, and children collect stars for completing exercises. There are four interactive games included in this app, which was featured in the Apple App Store. Parents and teachers can get involved by creating word lists and customizing the app in terms of text font size, writing instrument style and ink color, drawing difficulty, speed and more. Adults can also track a child’s progress (unlimited users), change letter sounds, indicate upper and lower case letters and more.
Paper Boat’s “Community Helpers Play & Learn” app teaches children about the people in various community-centric professions. This includes teachers, postal carriers, firefighters, farmers, and more. The free version includes four people (doctor, police officer, mechanic, plumber). There are two modes: Learn and Play. In the Learn mode, kids can tap a person to find out about their profession, and tap on various items that person uses to learn about those. In the Play mode, kids can play drag-and-drop learning games, such as helping the plumber fix some pipes, or helping a police officer with the description of a suspect. Community Helpers was featured by Apple in the “Best New Apps and Games” category.
Montessori Numberland is a counting app from 3 ELLEs, an award-winning developer of educational mobile apps started by Montessori teachers in 2010. Through a series of illustrated screens, the app teaches numbers, counting and quantity simultaneously. Children can trace the number in the direction shown by the arrows, as well as tap the same quantity of something displayed on the screen — such as five seagulls, four blocks, eight leaves, etc. Other apps in the 3 ELLEs Montessori series include Montessori Letter Sounds (ages 4-7), which has phonics in English, Spanish, French and Italian; Montessori Geometry (ages 5-10); Montessori First Operations (ages 5-7), which teaches addition and subtraction; Montessori Math: Add & Subtract Large Numbers (ages 6-9); and Montessori Math: Multiplication (ages 6-10).
Animals Flip and Mix
PlaneTree’s “Animals Flip and Mix- ABC Cognitive Game for Kindergarten and Preschool Kids Explorers” app, or Animals Flip and Mix for short, consists of a fun mix-and-match feature where kids can interchange three parts of the illustrated screen to create new creatures. The goal is to match top, middle and bottom parts of the screen by swiping each part left or right until the differently colored syllables match. While trying to match the parts, kids can create creatures that are combinations of fruit and animals — over 2,000 combinations in total – as well make up fake words from the syllable combos. When the three parts match, the apps shows a different interactive puzzle or animated scene for each word. Animals Flip and Mix teaches motor skills and visual perception, matching, spelling and more.
Sign Me a Story
Designed for use with special needs children or those with language/ hearing challenges, the Sign Me A Story app teaches kids to communicate through sign language, and reading through story and video. The first story, “GreenBeanies – One Cool Cat,” is free. Tap an emphasized word in the text of a screen to see a video that teaches how to sign that word. Story one teaches 14 signs, including morning, day, eat, happy, home and others. The second story, “GreenBeanies – Two Magical Hats,” teaches an additional 12 signs and is available through a paid in-app purchase ($1.99). (Story three to come.) The stories are interactive and meant for children at the higher end of the ECE age range, though some younger children may enjoy them as well.
The Little Digits app makes counting to 10 fun by taking advantage of the iPad screen’s multi-touch gestures. While in counting mode, tap the screen with one finger to indicate the number 1, then tap with two fingers for number 2, and so on. (Turn off “multi-touch gestures” in the iPad’s settings.) Kids can do addition and subtraction math the same way, simply by tapping the screen with the correct number of fingers. If there are too many or too few fingers, the animation shows the number of fingers and plays a sort of low horn sound. For the correct fingers, there’s a pleasant xylophone sound, and the illustrated numbers dance.
Tiny Robot Maker
On the surface, Tiny Twiga Studios’ Tiny Robot Maker app seems like it’s just about robots. However, there’s more to it than that. Kids get to play with robot illustrations, and mix and match parts, while also learning about color, shape and even parts of the human body. Tiny Robot Maker also has a free mini-coloring book with a birthday card that can be downloaded and printed out, as a supplement to the app.
Pyxwise’s “Spellyfish Phonics – Short A Words” is one of several apps in a series, aimed at teaching spelling and phonics and aligned to Common Core. This one focuses on English words that are short and have the letter ‘a’ in them. Children can choose which word puzzle group they’d like to solve. E.g., “_an” words (end with “an” and are three characters long). Spellyfish the jellyfish gives animated commentary, explaining the word to be spelled out, and its context. As each letter is tapped, Spellyfish sounds it out as relevant to the world, effectively teaching phonics. For more advanced tests, there are Spellyfish apps for kids 5-6 and 7-9 — in all covering Kindergarten to Grade 5. Pxywise also has a Simplex Spelling series, and there is a free Simplex Spelling Lite that has reverse phonics.
Annie’s Picking Apples 2
Annie’s Picking Apples lets kids navigate an animated squirrel along different spots on a map. When you stop the squirrel on a puzzle piece, you see a 2d jigsaw puzzle board. Stop on a colored circle and play a variety of math games. One is a counting lesson where you pull different colored apples from trees into the right baskets — teaches counting up to 20. Another is an animated conveyer belt system with different sections, which teaches sequences. There are a total of 27 “worlds,” and adults can set the difficulty level and set the amount of play time. Kids can practice in four languages: English, Spanish, French and German.
Teacher Tilly Puzzles
The Teacher Tilly puzzles app (one of several Teacher Tilly apps) teaches 2-4 year olds problem solving, sorting, organization and other skills through a variety of puzzles. The included puzzles have voiceover tips from “Teacher Tilly,” which helps kids learn vocabulary. (The iTunes profile says that the app is used by speech therapists to aid children in practicing new words.) Solving puzzles wins virtual balloons, and you can create new puzzles from photos. Coloring pages are available for download and printing as well.
Build a Scare
Build A Scare lets kids create unique “monsters” by dragging and dropping various elements to form faces. Spin the wheel to determine the number of appendages your monster will have. There’s a puzzle feature that you can use to create a jigsaw puzzle out of a freshly created monster — or from your iPad’s photo gallery. The app’s not just for fun. Inspired by methods used by a teacher with her students, Build A Scare teaches kids also learn to count, as well develop 2d spatial perception and their imagination.
Pick n’ Seek
Pick’n’Seek is a virtual hide-and-seek game for toddlers. Parents take a picture of their child with the app, adjust the pic, and voila, an animated digital version of appears. The digital child then goes and hides in various screens, and the real child tries to find themselves (At Home, Vehicles, Outdoors, Toys). For shy children that do not want their picture taken, parents can use an animated face as well. The app has four animated animal friends, and nearly 60 card game images. In addition to stimulating the imagination of children, it teaches them about shapes and sizes, movements and speeds, simple vocabulary words and more. There’s also a free lite version if you want to try the app before purchasing.
For even more application options and information, visit Early Childhood Education Degrees.