Whilst we generally try to limit screen time at home, including handheld devices and the TV, there are moments when screen time works as a fine babysitter (No judging! Hello uninterrupted Target shopping/Diaper changing/Dinner making, etc.). Honestly, as with everything else, it’s a fine balance between too little and too much and we’ve found 20 minutes a day is our golden window. At the end of it, the Boy has usually had his fill and is ready to move on and I’ve typically been able to speed through whatever errand is pressing and needs my full attention.
Speaking of apps, do you guys know about Guided Access on the iPhone and iPad? To turn it on, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Set up a passcode. Then, before you hand your device to the kids, you simply triple click in quick succession to bring up the Guided Access screen and lock the phone on that particular app, so kids can’t exit it and browse around through the rest of your phone when the timer’s up, the sneaky little things. It’s genius! Now back to your regularly scheduled post.
For an app to make it into our current rotation, it needs to be visually attractive (not jarring, not nauseating, just good design all around), the accompanying soundtrack CANNOT BE ANNOYING (I can’t stress this enough- I don’t need a tinny nursery rhyme stuck in my head all day, thank you, there are enough To-Do’s taking up space as it is), it needs to be educational and FUN, and it can’t come with a million ads or in-app purchases to unlock basic parts of the game so that although you’ve downloaded a free app, by the time you’re done making the ads go away and the game actually playable, you’re annoyed, the Boy is annoyed, and the Baby has devoured week-old floor food from under the couch it as if it was her last meal. Cue: barfing later that night. Not cool, app makers. Lucky for us all, these makers and their great apps for kids fulfill all of those requirements. Huzzah!
1. Endless Alphabet by Originator, Inc. | $6.99
Developed by Originator, Inc., this app is is my number one recommendation to parents with toddlers. It’s a fantastic learning tool. Colourful monsters, phonetic sounds, adorable graphics, and a dictionary all built into one. The Boy has been playing this since he was 2 and I can fully say it helped him recognize his letters and the sounds they make. As they grow older, they get more and different aspects out of it. As a two year old, he was able to recognize letter shapes and drag the correct letters into place, at 3, he started to understand phonetic sounds, and now at 4, he really enjoys learning new words and their definitions. This is a 5 star app! The entire Endless series encompasses numbers, reading, and word play and they also have a School edition- you can purchase these apps separately or in bundles. It is a bit pricey in the app world at $6.99 but it really is money well spent and what I love is that they constantly add new words to the game and there are so many that it never gets old.
2. Petting Zoo by Christoph Neimann & Fox and Sheep GmbH | $2.99
We love, love, love this app. It is incredibly clever, creative, and so entertaining. The animals respond to swiping and poking fingers and, with the added bonus of great sounds and funny movements, this app is just a delight. I think Mr. Tall and I enjoy playing with it just as much as the Boy does! Highly recommend this one if you’ve got a curious little in your life.
3. BeBop Blox by Originator, Inc. | $2.99
Also by Originator, Inc., BeBop Blox is a puzzle app and teaches shape recognition. The soundtrack and the little characters that bop along to it are as adorable as in the Endless series. They actually remind me of Minions and then I get the warm fuzzies because you would have to have a heart of stone not to love the Minions. Stone, I tell ya.
4. Curious George at the Zoo by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | $0.99, Additional Regions for $0.99 each
We love George around these here parts. We watch the cartoons and the movies, we read the books, we play the games, we even have George-themed birthdays! All in all, George is pretty solid. This app is solid too. There are different regions with different zoo animals from each region, for eg. Sunny Safari, Deep Freeze, Old MacDonald’s Farm, etc. What you get is the Sunny Safari and additional regions are $0.99 each. Kids can wash and feed the animals, they can collect stickers, and there are actual videos about each animal in it’s habitat narrated by the Man. It’s an engrossing app that can keep them busy and learning and that’s all right by me!
5. Mr. Potato Head- Create & Play by Originator, Inc. | Free, Bundle of all Play Sets: $4.99
Another Originator, Inc. app. Can you guys sense a fan-girl moment happening here? Generally speaking, in all things, if I like something by a particular company, I try to seek out everything they’ve ever done and own it. There aren’t very many companies that I support as fully but when you produce high-quality, entertaining and educational goods for kids, I’ll be a fan for life! On to the app- this one, as the name says, features Mr. Potato Head and the Boy has so much fun assembling and disassembling him over and over. It’s a simple concept and easy to use and it’s pretty funny to see his imagination at work. Lots of laughs here. Also available for Mrs. Potato Head.
6. Toca Hair Salon- Christmas Gift by Toca Boca AB | Free
Toca Boca AB is another company that makes apps that the Boy loves to play. They actually make lots of games so we’re spoiled for choice! We started off with the Christmas version of the Hair Salon game and it was so funny watching him cut, trim and shave Santa’s hair and beard. How often can you say that without sounding like a weirdo? We’ve since downloaded the regular Hair Salon as well and I’m thinking a couple of new games might be in order. Hurray!
And that’s it for my top app recommendations for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Have your kids played any of these? Have you? What did you think? Do you have any app recommendations? Are these enough questions? Hah. Quickly now, tell me your top app recommendations! I’m always on the lookout for quality kid’s stuff.
Until next time,