It’s been a relief to realize that there is great online content for my 6 year-old. He still doesn’t use the computer (outside of school). The main reason, I’ve not been in a rush to enmesh him in technology. It’s clear he’ll catch on fast when it becomes important to him. Previously when reading up about apps and games, I always felt like nothing suited his timid-conflict-averse mentality. So when we found a couple beautiful apps last night, I was pumped. Screens can be delicious. Later this week, my 6 year-old and I set off on a trip alone, just the two of us. He’s joining me on a work trip to The Netherlands (speaking here) and although real books will tide him over at times, there is somewhat of a saving grace in the fact that the iPad exists.
I’m seriously thrilled. I can’t wait for this special trip with my son and this time together.
But I’m also normal– there are parts of me very cognizant of the 10+ hour plane trip ahead of us. As a working mom on a working trip, he’ll be stuck amidst a few meetings. On the plane, we’ll read books, work on his journal, yet ultimately I’ll need to plug into my work for a few hours. When I do so, I’m thrilled that the iPad will be on his lap. Living in 2013 does have unique parenting luxuries and one of them is some of the brilliant screens out there. Screens can be great fun for us all when we do it right.
Last night, my husband and I spent some time online reading about good apps to load. We were sincerely delighted to find a couple gems (see below). We ended up completely entranced by 2 apps, in particular. I can’t wait to show these to my 6 year-old on Thursday.
Thoughts On Apps For Young Children:
- I love using Common Sense Media to learn about new apps, games, movies, and books. Not only do they provide age-based filters for search, they detail enough about the platforms that I can really cater to my kids’ individual interests and limitations (my 6 year-old is scared of most movies and really hates any kind of conflict). You can search by ages (if you’ve got more than 1 child with access to a device) or by interest (dinosaurs, sports, or magic) and you can also just quickly browse the “editor’s picks.”
- I really enjoyed this TIME Magazine 2012 list of top kid apps.
- The first app that grabbed our attention was called Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure. A huge series of maps and labyrinths for children to navigate and collect stars. Think mix of a 3-D train set, a puzzle, a map, a labyrinth meets Where’s Waldo. Thrilling for curious young school-aged kids.
- The second app was an interactive book entitled, The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I’m not exaggerating when I say this will leave you a little bit spellbound. I suggest you indulge yourself in this mesmerizing book that provides a story but also pages of interaction with inventive games gowned in historical context.
- As a reminder, I think you should play and explore every app yourself before handing it over to a young child. This doesn’t have to be a chore: we seriously enjoyed this last night when we did it! Although it felt a little frivolous getting through the entire book (it’s simply wonderful and whimsical), I know my time was well spent. I do think our time on these platforms provides incredible insight for how our children will spend time when we hand over the device.
Will you help me (I’ve got 2 more days to download content)? What apps or games do you love for young children? Where do you go to get ideas? Let’s generate a list with rationale and reviews.
PS- If you think it’s crazy that a pediatrician is online raving about using an iPad, check out Dr Claire McCarthy’s opinion piece in Pediatrics entitled, Pediatricians And TV: It’s Time To Rethink Our Messaging And Our Efforts.
Kathleen M. Berchelmann, MD says
We love A+ Spelling by Grasshopper apps. Our kids practice
spelling words on it each week!
Gillian Fein says
We love the Fantastic Flying books too! My oldest child is
almost 7 and I can imagine that the iPad would be a huge help to
both of us if I were in your shoes. In general, we love the Toca
Boca apps. Toca Doctor and Toca House are the big faves right now.
MoMA has a beautiful app called Art Lab. Highlights Magazine makes
an app called Hidden Pictures and my daughter has had fun with that
too. Other than that, there is something called Pet Shop Story
where you set up a pet store and have to decide what animals to
breed and sell, and how to set up shop and then you wait to see
what the customers are saying. My daughter goes in spurts with this
one. As a parent, I find the in-app purchases annoying (aka, buy
coins to make the cats breed faster, etc). If you’re around wifi,
the Kratt Brothers have an interesting show on PBS kids on the iPad
that is all about wild animals. I’m a working mom with three kids.
My work is in the app space (LaLa Lunchbox is an app to help kids
and parents plan and pack healthy lunches). Quality content really
matters to me, as does transparency. I hate downloading an app for
free just to find that the only way for my children to use it with
any joy will cost me $5 or more. If it’s worth having, I’m okay
with paying for it up front. BTW if you’d like to test drive LaLa
Lunchbox please just shoot me an email. It’s not a game, per se,
but it does make a game out of choosing lunch for kids, and it’s a
practical tool for parents. I’d be curious to hear what your son
thought. If you’d like to see what others are saying about it,
please check out: http://www.lalalunchbox.com/reviews Have a good trip!
Nancy Swank says
I recommend Rover, which is a free Internet browser that
allows you to play games (like PBS Kids sites) that use Flash
Player, which you can’t do on Safari. It’s a little fussy but worth
it to be able to do Flash player games. We also like the PBS Kids
video app, which is free, though you have to be connected to wifi
to access the videos. Also good are Brain Pop Jr. and Brain Pop,
which have a free educational movie of the week/day. Many schools
have an account and can give you the password for home use, in
which case you can watch unlimited videos.
Kendra Gagnon says
My kids enjoy the Toca Boca apps (Toca Hair Salon is what finally got my 2-year-old to stop screaming during his haircuts). They also like Toca Doctor. One of Toca Boca’s newer apps, Toca House, is FREE today in honor of Autism Awareness Day. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toca-house/id495680460?mt=8
Hi Wendy, I love your article! I found a very charming game
for kids,”Buddy and me”, which speaks with human intonation
creating a world of connections, visible and invisible; and beauty,
inside and around us.
would be interesting to hear your thoughts about it. Thank
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
THANKS for all of these!! Will get back to you all here with feedback after we try things out
I downloaded the Storia app from Scholastc. They have a vast collection of ebooks at all reading levels. In particular, I love the bundle of National Geogrophic enriched books about various topics, like animals, weather, nature. The read-aloud feature made it accessible to my 4yr old, whereas the puzzles and challenges captured the attention of my 6yr old and 9yr old nephew. (Be sure to download and open all your purchases before you leave relabe high speed Internet!)
On our last trip, my 6 yr old did music theory, rhythm practice, note reading, and ear training as she was away from her piano for 10 days. I mention this as your son might have a good ear by virtue or heredity and might find some of these fun absent formal training.
Blob Chorus (match pitches)
Rhythm Cat (tap increasingly difficult rhythms, requires almost no real note reading)
NoteWorks (identify notes by letter, soflege, or by playing on keyboard, you can specify clefs and note span)
GoodEar Scales (this requires some prior knowledge of scale modes so you can play back a scale correctly, but even the 4yr old will try it)
GoodEar Intervals (you can specify which intervals, most kids ages 6+ can identify a major 2nd with some practice)
Finally…my kids seem to love the TeachMe quiz games. It’s mind boggling that they’ll do endless interactions of addition/subtraction problems. Got us through a transcontinental road trip.
Nelson Branco says
We love the Dragonbox app at our house – a game that
teaches kids algebra without being a “math game” per se.