What a difference just a few short years makes. I bought my now six-year-old daughter her first iMac when she was three, and now her brother, who is two, is getting proficient on the family iPad. In fact, it is my six-year-old who is teaching my two-year old how to use the iPad. Something she now wishes she had when she was little.
When and where I grew up, I would have been happy at the age of 10 to have more than one TV in the house, and more than five channels to choose from. While we now live in a more technologically advanced age of excessive choices, which of the thousands of iPad Apps does my two-year old enjoy the most? Apple has put up a useful Apps for Kids category, but I have found after purchasing quite a few apps off of this list, that my kids have gravitated toward a handful of favorites. Keep in mind that this list was comprised solely on observations of which Apps my two-year old prefers to play whenever the iPad is in his sight.
123 Color HD ($1.99)
This is a sort of ‘paint by numbers’ application for kids that teaches colors, shapes, and letters. At just two years, colors is the best place to start. The interface is configurable and you can select a smaller color palate that limits the choices to the handful of colors that even a two-year old is familiar with. There is a pallet of colors along the bottom of the screen, that one selects from to fill in the picture with. The app comes with a limited set of images to choose from, but enough images to hold the interest of a two-year old and their six-year-old teacher. There is an audible feedback that lets the young one know if they applied the correct or incorrect color. When the picture is fully colored in, a song plays to celebrate the completion of the task. To which I can say that the eyes of my two-year old light up as he exclaims quite proudly “I did it daddy, I did it!”
Cookie Doodle (99 cents)
In the category of shared fun, and without having to constantly buy more and more ingredients for an easy bake oven (which we do at our house), Shoe The Goose has made a fun app that kids can use to interact with other kids or adults. It is a simple concept: pick the dough, use a cookie cutter, put it in the oven, decorate and eat. With regular updates that keep adding more cookies, more shapes, and more decorations, this universal app for both the iPad and the iPhone continues to delight. At family get togethers my six-year-old makes her rounds taking orders and baking cookies for her aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.
Wheels on the Bus ($1.99)
More like a traditional interactive pop up board book that won’t easily tear when a two-year old wants to play with it, this interactive App will sing to you in several different languages and instruments. You can even record your own rendition of the song to sing along. Like a pop up board book, the screen comes alive when touched.
The Cat in the Hat ($3.99)
What collection of Apps for Kids would be complete without including the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Oceanhouse Media has done a great job at bringing several titles onto both the iPhone as well as the iPad. This universal app is a little more advanced than those from Duck Duck Moose as you can choose to have the book read to you, read it yourself, or auto play which will also advance the pages for you. Each page is beautifully illustrated and interactive in a way that only a touch screen can master. In read it to myself mode, if a word is difficult to read, just tap the text and it will be read to you.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (99 cents)
Moving away from board books and into the arena of puzzle games for kids, this app poses more of a mental challenge for two-year olds. Identifying color names and letters of the fruit that the monkey wants, finding hidden fruit in matching games for the monkeys lunch, and even counting the fruit that the monkey will have for lunch, this app is all about getting the monkey fed. Each child learns at a different pace, and this app allows one to select the style of learning for the child, while offering subtlety different variations on the same theme to advance the child forward at their pace.