Well, it’s my son’s 5th Birthday tomorrow. You might assume I’ve been obsessed with planning his birthday party, getting a cake recipe or finding the perfect gift. You would be wrong. I’ve been obsessed with updating the apps on my son iPad.
I feel 5 years is a tricky age. My son is finally following directions, knows his ABC’s and can count to 20. Therefore, many of the preschool apps aren’t teaching anything. He doesn’t, however, know how to add, multiply, read, follow complex directions. On iTunes, the ages are 5 & under or 6 – 8. So, finding an app for my developing son has been a delicate balance of finding something challenging yet simple.
Initially, I feel in love with ABC Mouse and all of the subscription apps that made my life easy by having a wide array of activities and endless content. My son, however, eventually settled on a few subsets of these apps and complete ignored huge parts of the app. So, I was back to the drawing board.
When I first got my son’s app, I spent many hours scouring iTunes and trying out apps. Now that my son is about to turn 5 and he has had his iPad for a while, I know what kinds of apps interest him and what topics excite him. It has made it a lot easier.
But, two things have made this search for apps so much easier. First, I have a list of trusted app developers that I know create the type of quality content I like and have topics that interest my son. Secondly, I know great places to go for curated, reviewed lists of apps by age, grade or category. While I still had to try out apps and a few were rejected because they had bugs, my son didn’t like them, or they resulted in mindless clicking for sound or action, rather than quality interaction, I was able to find a good list of apps much faster this time.
My favorite app developers (in no particular order) are:
SylvanPlay is a library of fun, Sylvan-approved educational apps that improve skills in math, language arts, science, geography and more. Sylvan Learning provides math, reading and writing tutoring, test prep and coding & robotics classes for kids. Their teaching system blends personal lessons taught by Sylvan-certified instructors with iPads. It is no surprise they have a great collection of apps. My Son’s favorite apps by Educate, Inc. are Get Rocky and Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa.
PBS Kids is the leader in educational entertainment for kids. All of their shows are fun and enriching and their apps are no different. PBS Apps are probably my son’s favorite apps. And, anything from PBS is pretty much a no-brainier. Some of my son’s favorites PBS apps are Odd Squad Blob Chase, Peg + Cat Tree Problem, Martha Speaks Story Maker, and Cyberchase 3D Builder.
Disney is one of the oldest family-centered media outlets. They have a huge selection of characters kids love. Disney knows how to entertain. Some of my son’s favorite Disney apps include Where’s my Perry, Disney Princess: Story Theater, Disney Story Central, Mickey’s Magical Math, and Finding Nemo Storybook.
Duck Duck Moose is part of Khan Academy, which offers online practice exercises and instructional videos in math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. Duck Duck Moose creates apps that encourage kids to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment. They work with educators and do lots of play-testing with kids to ensure their apps are frustration free. My son loves their creative expression apps like Superhero Comic Maker. I hope he gets into their math curriculum based like Moose Math.
HMH is a global leader in Pre K-12 educational content and services, combining digital innovation and research to make learning more engaging and effective. Some of their apps are listed as Tribal Nova apps or I Learn With, but they are all HMH companies. iLearn With creates apps with learning and game and activities designed for kids in preschool and kindergarten. The games are designed with the hel of teachers and developmental experts to ensure they meet the National Standards for math, literacy, language development and science. HMH/iLearn With apps include Curious World and Max & Ruby! Science.
Nosy Crow creates children’s book apps that encourage children to read for pleasure. These apps are not existing books squashed onto screens, but instead are specially created to take advantage of the devices to tell stories and provide information to children in new and engaging ways. Their apps have great illustrations and writing. My son’s favorite Nosy Crow app is Goldilocks and Little Bear.
While many may thing Montessori and iPad apps don’t mix. I love the quality application of Montessori’s method to the iPad. Kids learn through experience, rather than long explanations. The games are developed by experienced Montessori teachers. Their top apps include Crazy Gears, Zen Studio, Busy Shapes and Montessori 1st Operations.
Oceanhouse creates apps based upon children’s books such as Dr. Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, Smithsonian and Little Critter. My favorite app by them is The Cat in the Hat – Read & Learn app.
StoryToys’ digital books and games combine storytelling with games and activities. They create apps based upon children’s books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Chuggington and Power Rangers. All of their apps are designed to help children learn through reading, sequencing, task coordination or some other activity. My son’s favorite apps by them are Batman Unlimited, Dino Dog, and Leonardo’s Cat.
Slim Cricket creates and develops interactive stories for children aged 4 to 10 with integrated games that advance the plot of the story. My favorite app is the Witch Witholastic appsh No Name.