For crying out loud, apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices are not all about games and social networking tools. Some of the most entertaining and innovative applications are designed for children.
There are hundreds of compelling titles, in fact, that you can download and run with your baby or toddler. Before too long, they will be showing you how everything works.
Attention, all you new parents out there: Here are five apps that can deliver sanity to your households and hopefully help your little ones learn a thing or two along the way.
Shapes, colors and basic vocabulary (like “dog,” “cat” and “all gone”) brilliantly weave in and out of this remarkable application, which has separate versions for one- and two-year-olds. There is minimal interactivity involved aside from touching icons that take you to eight different segments. From there, sit back and enjoy how circles and stars are drawn, or see how the eyes, ears and mouth appear on a puppy. Each segment lasts about three to four minutes and displays multiple versions of the same shape or object through creative and cartoonish repetition. The payoff comes at the end when a female narrator asks, “What is it? What is it?” and then concludes that it’s a (fill in the blank). Sparkabilities can even free up weary parents for 15 minutes at a time to enjoy breakfast a few times per week. You can’t ask for much more than that!
After your toddler has mastered Sparkabilities, and the puppies and kittens found within, he or she is ready for Peekaboo Barn. Pigs, roosters, cows, goats and more are all featured in this animal recognition game. After the red barn doors begin to shake, simply tap on them to find out which animal lies inside. The introductory level of the app shows off the animal, audibly plays noises like a cow’s moo or a rooster’s crow, and then speaks and flashes across the screen the animal being featured. More advanced levels have children identifying what animal it is by looking or listening. A playful version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” serves as a nice soundtrack.
Oh my, they grow up so quickly! A great, popular app these days is Puzzingo, which properly bills itself as “the greatest puzzle on earth.” This playful matching game asks kids to assemble individual components of an airplane and to find the shadows of ostriches and leopards inside a jungle. Each level includes a fun payoff of a balloon popping or a plane flying.
Thomas the Train is a modern-day classic and a source of immense enthusiasm in more than a few households out there. While the videos and toys are great, the series of Thomas-themed iOS apps add a whole new dimension to the series. Out of the several available in the iTunes App Store (Android owners should note that none of the Thomas apps in the Android Market are official), Day of the Diesels can’t be missed. The app includes puzzles, matching games and a virtual coloring book. Love that choo choo.
As bedtime approaches and you’ve exhausted storytime (that’s right, it’s still important to read actual books to your little ones, too!), Baby Soother is there for you in a pinch. The 3-in-1 app includes soundtracks and tranquil images of animated sunsets, aquariums and winter wonderlands. This app can even put mom and dad to sleep, and there is no better compliment than that!