Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best Toddler Apps for your iPhone/iPad!

* This is NOT a sponsored post, I just love these apps and want to share them with you all!

As both a mother and speech language pathologist, I'm frequently asked about two topics: enriching your child's development & uses of technology in your child's learning.

If you've hung around the blog for a little while, you've seen my prior opinions on television {programming/content, amount/frequency, and advertising} here, but one of the other big topics on which I frequently hear questions is apps for toddlers.  Since I hadn't previously written on my favorite toddler apps, I thought maybe I'd pick a few that have been popular in our home and chat about why they are a good fit for a developing child.

{These will all be apps I've used on my iPhone.  Some of these apps may be available on Android, but we have not used them on any other device than an iPhone or iPad.}

So here goes:

Baby Flash Cards -

We initially started with the free version of this one, but I loved it so much I upgraded to the $2.99 version quickly.  I love this app for a number of reasons and this was one of the first apps I downloaded for Little Man to play while on my phone or iPad.

One of the best things I appreciate about this app is the multiple areas in which a child may learn.  While playing with this app, your child can learn vocabulary in the following subject areas: food, animals, transportation, colors, letters, numbers, shapes, clothing, body parts, home items, musical instruments, sports, and miscellaneous categories.  My absolute favorite part about this app is that the pictures are REAL.  For almost all of the categories, the pictures are actual photographs of the item instead of cartoony representations of the items.

Best toddler apps for kids

There are several different settings you can use with this app based on your child's learning level, including having the text of the word present on the screen, a voice stating the name of the item, or randomizing the order in case you don't want the same order {like for the alphabet or counting areas}.  There's even a game in the app where it shows you four photos and asks you to, "Click on ____."  Little Man loooooves that part.

When he was just learning to speak, Little Man loved to page through the categories and repeat the words after the woman's voice spoke them.  There were several times in which I watched him hear a word, not fully get it, and swipe back again to hear it/repeat it one more time.  It was awesome as a speech therapist and mom literally watching him learn new words right in front of my eyes.

Interactive Alphabet -

Interactive Alphabet is touted to work with ages 1+, and I while I don't necessarily love the idea of a one year old frequently having a device in front of them, I think it's a fantastic first start to learning the alphabet once your child is ready to use a device.

Interactive Alphabet has four different areas: Baby, Explore, Trace, and Type.  The Baby area is a "guided A to Z touchable tour."  In baby, they can look at pictures, hear letters and words, and touch the screen in different areas to do things like crunch an apple or blow out birthday candles, etc.  Explore is very similar to Baby, but they can choose their own letters and switch up the order as they please.  The Trace area is a fantastic way to help a child learn letter shapes, as well as hear the phonemic sounds of each letter.  The Type area allows your child to find the letters in an on-screen keyboard and type them in to spell a word, teaching them both spelling and the fundamentals of typing and letter placement on a keyboard.

Hi, Mom!  She's too cute, right?

One of my favorite parts of this app is that you can actually customize the alphabet the way you'd like to see it.  For example, we've added photos of Mama for M, Daddy for D, Lilo {our dog} for L, etc.  Little Man loves to see his own family members in the alphabet in my phone.

Endless ABC -

A friend of mine recommended this app to us and I absolutely LOVE it for teaching phonemic awareness as well as letter shape, spelling, and vocabulary.  Basically, these adorable little creatures run through a word and scatter all of the letters - spilling them all over the screen.  Your child then has to drag each letter back to the outline of a word in the middle of the screen.  As they pull the letters back into place, the letter shakes and makes it's sound.  Once the entire word is complete, the creatures play in a little cartoon explaining the meaning of the word.

It's adorable, right?

When I am needing a little time to actually accomplish a task, Little Lady goes up in a carrier and this is my first go-to app for Little Man as he absolutely loves it and will actually sit for a good period of time to manipulate the letters into place.

Sort It Out -

This app was also recommended to me by friends, and I love it for helping your toddler learn categorization of items.  In this app, the child is given a screen {the one below is from my phone, this app looks better and is easier for a child on an iPad, but it will work on the iPhone} full of items in three different categories, and then they have to drag each item into the correct place.

On some parts of the app, you're putting the items onto a shelf, but for others - like the screen shot above - you're actually putting them into a functional landscape of where they fit in reality.  It's a great way to help teach your child likeness of items and train a focus on key details that differentiate items from one another.

These are some of our top apps right now, what are some of your favorites?

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