I have a 7-year-old who, like most kids these days, is utterly enamored with technology. Fortunately, there are a number of learning apps that take the edge off the guilt most of us parents feel about screen time. Below you’ll find my favorite reading apps, math apps, creativity apps, and music apps for young kids. Click the icon for each app to see it on the iTunes store.
BEST APPS FOR KIDS:
: My 7-year-old can’t get enough of Rocket Math. Kids can choose additon, subtraction, multiplication, or division, but if they just want to shoot off the rockets (my son is an expert at trying to navigate around the education aspect of any game to get to the blasting part), they actually have to think about how much fuel the rocket can carry, how different boosters affect takeoff, etc.
I found the Bob Books to be an amazing introduction to reading for my reluctant Kindergartener. I bought the boxed sets, which are quite expensive, but then along came the Bob Books app–all of the books in Set 1 for $1.99 total, and the books in set two for $3.99 total. That’s just six dollars for both sets, a terrific bargain. Even though we already had the actual books, we purchased the app as well, just because our son thought it was so much fun. The pictures are bright and clear and the books build on each other in a way that takes the “scary” out of reading. Bob Books and Starfall (see below) helped our son go from fear of reading to love of reading in a single summer. I absolutely love the Bob series, and can’t recommend them highly enough. If you want to go the more traditional route with a great set of well-designed books, I highly recommend New Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read. Click here for Hooked on Phonics.
Research in education tells us that one of the most important ways children learn is through creativity, but class time in school is often spent on meaningless worksheets. Drawing Pad lets kids’ imaginations run wild with dozens of bright, beautiful colors and a simple, beautiful toolkit of markers, paintbrushes, pencils, and erasers. They’ll also love stamping their artwork with stickers. You can also brighten grandma’s day by simply hitting “send” after your little one has drawn a picture. It’s not surprising that this one has won a slew of awards.
One of Apple’s All-Time Top 20 Apps, Smule’s Ocarina turns your iPhone into an ancient flute. Blow air into your mic to create music • Touch combinations of holes to play notes• Tilt to change vibrato rate and depth. Like so many of the SMULE apps, this one is pure magic.
: Like the Bob Books, I can’t say enough good things about the Starfall app. A great reading program for preschool and kindergarten kids, based on the star fall book series. In conduction with the wonderful Bob Books, this app helped my struggling kindergartener learn to read in a fun, engaging way. One of the keys to early reading is developing confidence; this app helps kids do just that.
: Budding crooners will love recording their own songs, then playing their synthesized voices back. They can sing a cappella, or load songs from your itunes library to sing along with.
Chore Hero: Does your kid think chores are some strange think Opie did on the Andy Griffith Show, as old-fashioned as CDs and commercials? With Chore Hero, you can choose which chores are supposed to be completed by which family members, on what day, and assign points for each chore. For some reason, making the bed is less daunting for a 7-year-old if it’s a competition, particularly if he gets to declare total household domination at the end of the week.
More great stuff for mamas & papas: Photobooks by Tiny Prints.