There are lots of reasons to give your preschooler your iPad, iPhone or iTouch to play with. Maybe a temper tantrum is on the horizon. Maybe you've got a wait at the doctor's office or a long car ride ahead of you. Maybe you just want to expose your little one to new technologies. Whatever your thinking, there are plenty of apps that will keep them entertained and even teach them a thing or two. Costs vary -- some are free and most cost just a dollar or two for the initial purchase. But check with the developer for more details to find out if there is a subscription cost involved.
A great way to keep track of a preschooler's progress in just about anything -- helping around the house, putting away toys, sleeping in their own bed -- is to use a tracking system of some sort, whether it be a sticker chart or beans in a container. Enter Marble Jar, an app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad that lets you electronically track your child's progression as they work towards a goal. You set up how many marbles your child needs to earn a prize and the app does all the work. You can create as many jars as you need -- great for households with multiple kids. ($2.99 at the iTunes store.)
When do books come to life? When they are fully interactive ones, like this app from Grids Interactive. The Truly Great Noodle tells the story of Nate, who is having trouble finishing his dinner. Kids can listen to the story being told, record their own voices (or the voice of a parent) and engage with the characters through fun games and activities. Included are nine original songs, plus a link to the company's charitable partner; Kids Against Hunger. ($3.99 on iTunes.)
Your little one can explore the alphabet with furry favorite Elmo and all of his friends, with this app from Sesame Street. Features include 80 classic Sesame Street videos, new Sesame Street videos, letter tracing, coloring pages and a variety of games and sing-a-long songs. The focus of the app is to teach preschoolers upper and lowercase letter recognition while they explore the alphabet in a host of different ways.
This free app from PBS KIDS offers free, streaming access to more than 1,000 videos from top PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! series, including The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, Sesame Street, Wild Kratts and more. The app also includes tools for parents, including access to local PBS station TV schedules; information about TV series, including intended age and learning goals and the ability to download related educational apps and TV episodes.
I have yet to meet a preschooler who isn't enthralled with dinosaurs. And personally, I'm enthralled with the Dinosaur Train Eggspress app for the iPhone and iPad from PBS Kids. Based on the popular television show, the app teaches kids fun facts about dinosaurs, while reviewing matching and logical thinking skills. ($2.99 at the iTunes store.)
Here's an an app for your iPhone or iPad that will help your child with their early reading skills while boosting their confidence. The wildly popular Bob Books series have launched an app that work on 32 basic words using friendly characters and a fun, simple story. As your child masters the words, you can increase the difficulty with four different levels. ($1.99 at the iTunes store.)