The iOS App Store has everything you could possibly want; the trouble is sifting through to find the gems . As a teacher (4 years with 11-year olds, and 5 years with students with developmental delays), and a parent of two children under 7, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for great apps that will both entertain and educate my children.
Some things that I look for include frequent updates, curricular links, open-ended exploration, and paid apps. Yes, I want to pay for the apps that I use. I would much rather pay for a quality app that is ad-free than subject my kids to popups, banner ads, and pay-to-play features. I also find that apps which require a one-time payment are of higher quality than ad-supported or pay-to-play. They’re also much less annoying.
Here are some of the apps apps that I’ve been using:
- Epic!: 20 000 books, on your (iOS or Android!) phone or tablet. Best for kids under 12. Well worth the incredible library of fiction, non-fiction, audiobooks, “read-to-me”, and educational videos. Get a free month to try it out, then there is a subscription of $4.99/month
- Quick Math Jr.: An amazingly well-designed app intended to improve number sense in a wide variety of ways. The fun, short games build skills that are vital to early numeracy awareness. Particularly geared toward children ages 5-7, even the free section is worth using. The rest of the “islands” cost $6.99 each, or $13.99 for all.
- GoNoodle Kids: A fun way to get kids active when they would rather not. This pairs with the GoNoodle website, which has the same videos, but requires registration. This is free!
- MyPlayHome: A digital play house, where your kids can live out endless domestic fantasies. This is open-ended, with hundreds of discoverable features (such as turning off light switches, operating appliance). There are a number of related apps if you like these: School, Stores, Hospital. Costs $3.99.
Finally, I’ve got a trustworthy site to check whether media (movies, games, books) are age-appropriate and suitable for my kids. Take a look at Common Sense Media for tips on positive messages, positive role models, violence, sex, language, etc, so that you can make an informed choice.