Best iPad Apps for Preschoolers

Two days ago I wrote about some of the pros and cons of using an iPad with your child during playtime. Today I will share some of Beanie’s favorite apps. Here are the top 5 apps for preschoolers:

1. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. This game appeals to the short attention span of a preschooler. The monkey leads kids throu a variety of games, including matching, patterns, and letter recognition. Kids earn “stickers” that they can place on a board periodically in the game. The same company also made Monkey Mathschool Sunshine, which is a math game for preschoolers that follows a similar format.

2. Jump Start Preschool. This is another variey game, where kids earn “jump stars.”. It is slightly more challenging than Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, and it teaches early reading and math skills.

3. Elmo’s Monster Maker. This is a more open-ended, creative game. Kids choose a monster body, then add eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a hat. Then, the monster can dance, play with Elmo, or have its picture taken.

4. Another Monster at the End of This Book. This is part app, part ebook. It’s based on the children’s book, but kids can click on the pictures and participate in the story. This is Beanie’s current favorite. There is also an app available based on the earlier book, “The Monster at the End of This Book.”

5. Letter School. . This is my favorite letter-making game. Kids choose a letter, watch a demonstration of it being formed, then drag fun objects (train tracks, lights, grass, etc.) around to make the letter. After they successfully make the letter, something happens. A train goes around the track, lights blink, a lawnmower cuts the grass, and so on. This is a great app, because it only allows kids to for the letters correctly, rather than just having them trace. ABC Trace is another good letter-forming app.

Here are some apps not to bother with:

1. Puppet Show. You can make the puppet turn and open its mouth. Not too exciting.

2. Jog Nog. This requires constant Internet access. Not ideal for a little kid.

3. Kid Genius. This is just flash cards.

Happy iPad-ing!

“I Want iPad!”

IPads are wonderful. They take up less space than net books, they double as ebook readers, and they have touch screens that render the mouse obsolete.

They are to go-to high tech accessory for children with special needs as well. I have two for classroom use. Math drill apps are more engaging than worksheets, Angry Birds makes a great reward, and typing programs are excellent for my students with fine motor disabilities. The Bean loves using the iPad in speech therapy and OT. In fact, the iPad got her past a standstill in OT. Last summer, she was refusing to trace lines, shapes, and letters. Her therapist showed her a letter tracing iPad app, which she loved. After she built up her confidence, she was able to start tracing on paper.

So what about using the iPad at home, as part of your child’s play? We definitely have found some advantages to this, and the Bean loves it. She will announce,”I want iPad!”. However, this excellent minimalistic device will not replace hands-on playtime, as wonderful as it would be to get rid of toy clutter. Here are some of the pros and cons we have found, with using the iPad for playtime.

Pros:
–Apps are infinitely patient. The Bean can get the wrong answer over and over and the little monkey will still celebrate and declare it “super cool” when she finally gets it right.
–It’s a more engaging way to teach basic reading, writing, and math skills.
–There are lots of free ebooks for little kids, and the apps will read them as well.

Cons:
–It does not teach higher-level thinking skills and problem-solving. It is not a substitute for experiementing with the world around them.
–It does not provide opportunities for complex pretend play.
–It does not meet sensory needs like actual hands-on play does. It also does not provide the opportunity for active play.

So, we let the Bean use the iPad, in moderation. This is not a problem, because she seeks other play opportunities anyway. We have found the iPad to be especially helpful in the car and at restaurants. Tomorrow I will share some of our favorite apps for preschoolers.