Themes: Preschool Studies
Toddler Teasers gets kids ready for preschool with puzzles and games involving shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. The app is laid out so a young child can click around without getting out of the game or ending up at a menu, and the controls are easy enough for anyone to use. There are four ways to play but all of them are educational, and should help with development. Toddler Teasers features over 30 categories, which include shapes, colors, money, symbols, colors, and numbers. The game has puzzles, games, and flashcards to make learning easy. Once kids have been playing for awhile, the app will email report cards to show the categories in which your kids excel or struggle. Once your child starts to outgrow the games, you can give them a new challenge by changing the language to Spanish or French.
Free Books ($1 on iOS)
Free Books boasts that it offers 23,469 classics for less than the price of a cup of coffee. All of the books offered are public domain novels, so it is perfect for a kid with any interest in the classics like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. If your child can’t read novels yet, Free Books also has a selection of audio books. Users can even switch between an audiobook and an ebook, so kids can listen to a paragraph and then try to read it themselves. If your kid comes across a word he doesn’t know yet, he can highlight it and pull up the dictionary. Once you’ve download the app, you have access to it’s entire library. Scrolling through all the tiny pages can be tiring, but it does offer options to change the font, background, and go into night mode. You can rate books to help you remember which ones were your favorites or read reviews to make sure your choice is appropriate for children. Free Books can take up a lot of space on your phone or tablet — depending on how many books you download — so make sure you have some extra space on your device before handing it over to your child.
Theme: Memory Games
Memory Match is a great way to keep your mind sharp. The game is laid out like a typical memory game in which you uncover cards to find matches and clear the board. It is an extremely simple concept so you kid might get tired of playing it, but it is something the whole family can play. Games can be chosen by themes, such as shapes, dots, and animals. There are two ways to play, timed single player mode or against another player in multiplayer mode. You can also change the board to have four cards by four cards, 5 x 5, 6 x 6, 7 x 7, or 8 x 8. The app records all scores of anyone who plays on that particular device, which makes it easy to keep track of who you are beating, who is the reigning family champ, and who must be dethroned. Because the game is quite basic, it might become stale for some children, but it’s free so there’s little reason not to download it.
GazziliScience ($2 for iOS)
Theme: Science Education
Science can be a tough subject for some kids, but GazziliScience makes it easy and fun. There are six different areas of the game with a different piece of science to learn. Different characters take kids through lessons about plants, seasons, water cycles, and more. Kids can plant a seed, watch the roots grow, and see the transformation into trees and flowers. Watch how the rotation of the earth changes the seasons and go under the sea to learn about the wildlife. The app has a lot of content, but the actions are repetitive so there is a possibility children will outgrow the games. Each time a kid completes a lesson, they unlock another portion of the GazziliScience Fun Page, an interactive menu in which kids can get stickers and touch on-screen objects to make them move, talk, or dance.
Theme: Interactive Toys
Ubooly, which can be described as a less terrifying Furby, is essentially an far more advanced version of a Teddy Ruxpin. But rather than cassette tapes, you can insert your iPhone or iPad into the Ubooly plush toy ($30), which will interact with your kids. It can learn names, birthdays, responds when spoken to, and walks kids through various lessons and games. For example, kids can enter math problems into the iPhone/iPad and Ubooly will work with them toward the correct solution. Ubooly also teaches children science by walking them through easy at home experiments, which make hands on learning at home easy and fun. The toy covers a range of lessons from the human body to Spanish, and has enough content to keep a kid of any age interested. It can also tell stories, jokes, and play music right from your iPad, iPod, or iPhone. And your device is protected in a plush case when plugged into the Ubooly, so you don’t need to be as mindful of your child dropping it or scratching it.