Last summer my iPhone and I had just begun our courtship and I told you about 5 Apps I Found Invaluable. Since then our relationship has blossomed, but it's been cheating on me...with my son. Critics bemoan that children have their heads in iPhones and are missing the world around them and generally I'd agree. But if you're taking a long road trip - like we are today - it's a lifesaver.
I previously wrote about websites I'd found to be the best for reviews of kids' apps, but the best intel comes from kids themselves. In that spirit, here are ten of the apps my son plays with the most and seems to enjoy the most. Note that he is 3.5 and uses them on an iPhone.
Miles' Top Ten Apps:
1. Anything by Toca Boca. All the Toca Boca apps are awesome. I think they're the best kids apps out there. They're inventive, fun and graphically appealing. Doctor is his current favorite of the bunch and we just downloaded the most recent offering, Kitchen. Currently, you can get Hair Salon Christmas Gift for free.
2. Alpha Tots & Tally Tots Pocket: These are two separate apps, but they're similar so I've put them together here. For each number 1-20 (Tally Tots) and letter (Alpha Tots) there is an interactive activity to reinforce counting or letter sounds. For example, for the number 11, you drag marbles to the top of a marble run and watch them run through it. For K you kick a soccer ball through a goal.(
3. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox/Monkey MathSchool Sunshine: Again, these are two different apps by the same maker and very similar. Lunchbox is the best selling app for preschoolers and I'm not surprised. My son has probably spent more time using these apps than any other. Lunchbox focuses on colors, letters, counting, shapes, differences, and matching while MathSchool's games relate to sequencing, patterning, counting, adding and subtracting. Navigating them is very intuitive and the music and monkey's voice are less annoying than they should be.
4. Freight Train: This is a terrific adaptation of Donald Crewes' book of the same name. Part interactive game (connect the cars and each one has a hot spot to reveal what's in the car) and part story. For me, the best part is the soulful narrator and the fantastic music - a rotation of five songs: "I've Been Working on the Railroad", "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain", and "John Henry." Although this is a terrific app, it is not particularly robust so playing time is not particularly long.
5. Paper Town Friends ($1.99): This one has been around for a bit, but my son never seems to tire of it. Choose a duck, frog, monkey, rhino, cat or baby and go to town outfitting them in a myriad of hats, shirts, bottoms, shoes and glasses. The whole look of this app is beautiful and I totally want the fez.
6. Bugs and Buttons: This app is a great value (18 games within) and the realistic graphics are impressive. The games involve your typical preschool fare: matching, sorting, counting, etc. There is some room for improvement navigating between the games as my son often asks me for help with this part.
7. Sid's Science Fair: Bringing the same quality of Sid the Science Kid tv show to the app, kids choose to play with May, Gabriela or Gerald's science fair experiment each related to basic science and math concepts. It's an excellent app, but I will mention that my son has trouble navigating within the kids.
8. Counting Caterpillar: This app is all about counting and sequencing as you help a cute caterpillar eat aphids and grow longer. I find it a bit repetitive, but my son really likes it. They've done a terrific job with the graphics which I appreciate.
9. Gazzili Shapes: This app has several games all focused on shapes, but not just the simplest like circles and triangles, but also pentagons, ovals, and trapezoids. Kids tap and drag on shapes to complete tasks like helping a girl bake cookies or a cat jump through shapes at the circus.
10. Alien Buddies: There are two main games here: one a dot-to-dot the other a matching game where you help little aliens find the correct flying saucer based on either an audio or visual cue (matching colors, shapes, letters or numbers). The graphics here aren't as artsy as some, but I don't think my son cares.