As a part of my Reading Readiness Series here on Beaumont’s Parenting Program Blog, I wanted to take some time to review the greatest apps (according to my daughter and I) for toddlers and preschoolers on both the Kindle Fire and Apple iPad. I will be sure to review apps for older children in my next reading series, which will be for elementary-aged children.
I have pretty strict rules when it comes to screen time in our house. It’s just my thing. (We’ll save that for another blog post.) However, once I got a glimpse at what the iPad had to offer for literacy learning activities, I purchased one for the family and have been extremely happy ever since.
All the following games have been tried and tested by my three-year-old and me. Please remember to always monitor your children while they are on an electronic device.
1. BT Handwriting: This app gives children the opportunity to use their fine motor skills to practice tracing capital letters. It says the name of the word, the sound and associates a picture with the word. This is the free version. You can then upgrade to the full version that includes numbers, writing your name and lowercase letters.
2. Jump Start Preschool: There is a free version but the full version is totally worth it. On this app children can build puzzles, play a sound box, listen to stories, learn about numbers, match letters to animal names, sort shapes and more! What we really like about this app is that it has a number of activities that strengthen reading readiness.
3. Dora’s ABCs: This app is simple as far as the activities go. However, the tasks are for children who have a solid understanding of most of the letter sounds. Children practice beginning, middle and ending sounds. There is also an activity to practice rhyming words.
1. Duck, Duck Moose Princess Fairy Tale Maker: A friend of ours just recently recommended this app to us. We love it! It is not a free app. Children use characters and backgrounds to create a story scene. Then, they have the option to use a record feature to tell their story. The only downside I see to this app is that there is no way to email the story or save it to your computer to keep forever! I am having so much fun hearing my three year old tell stories.
2. Letter School: This free app is like BT Handwriting on the Kindle Fire but with better graphics. Children practice writing lower and upper case letters. There is a catchy tune they sing for each of the letters that repeats the name of the letter, the sound and an object that is associated with it.
3. Phone For Kids: What are your toddler and preschoolers favorite toys? It’s not the remote control truck or dollhouse you spent big bucks on. Typically their favorite gadgets are your remote controls and cell phone! That’s why we love this free app. It’s a smart phone and has learning involved. Children can send texts, hear letter names, dial pretend phone numbers, paint and learn about different types of weather.
Something that has really worked for our family when it comes to managing time on the device is using a kitchen timer. I also organized the apps into two categories. One titled “Learn” and one titled “Play” She has to make choices from both categories each time she plays on the iPad. This way I know she is not only dressing Hello Kitty the entire time, but she is also playing some great learning apps too.
We recently received the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Case that has come in handy protecting our device from messy and fumble fingered children!
– Maria Dismondy, mother of two, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan.