I just finished updating our iPad, deleting the apps the kids don’t use and downloading new ones.
We are big believers that technology, when used in wisdom and moderation, can be incredible educational tools. We’ve used LeapFrog’s Tag Readers, iPad, iTouch, you name it – and we have iPhones, so our lives are very much tied up into technology. Particularly if it has an apple emblem!
However, technology only works well if you are its master and it doesn’t master you. And not all apps are created equal – so here are a few that have worked well for us; specifically what’s fun for our 7 year old, Uno, to use right now. (I should mention we got all of them free.)
1. Pocket Zoo. This app allows you to explore a virtual zoo with links to live cameras at zoos all over the place and links to educational videos about the animals. Just this morning I learned Orca’s have ears and can hear through their jaws because of Pocket Zoo!
2. Rocket Speller. This is a hit in our household! There are various levels of play, in the early levels you drag letters to the word and it’s basically matching; in harder levels you spell it out with prompts only. After getting a few right you get to choose a portion of the rocket ship and “build you own.” It’s exciting enough that the girls were fighting over what made the best looking rocket ship – and plugging along through spelling words the whole time.
3. Sushi Monster. This strange little monster will chop and dice his way through math problems, creating food as he goes. We really appreciate all of the Toco apps. They’re entertaining and fun for the girls.
4. American Girl Gymnastics. The premise of this game is simply – a girl runs along balance beams and you make her jump and flip over obstacles. Thats it. Simple. But I sat with Uno for more than 15 minutes playing it just because we were having fun and laughing at the gymnast splat when we messed up.
5. American Girl Port to Port. The American Girl people have put together some cool apps as part of their marketing strategies! In Port to Port you have to sail your ship across a bay to pick up goods for the best price – without getting waylaid by pirates. It’s fun and makes you use your noggin to do math and be a smart shopper.
6. Shapes. We’ve had this game for a long time – in fact, I think Uno was two when she started playing. Over the years it’s been a go-to game to pass the time while we’re in a check out line or even waiting for dinner in a restaurant.
7. Fit It! Another of our go-to games, the problem solving required here is great for logic and reasoning skill building. (Which I may need a bit of practice with myself!)
8. Talking Tom. This is one of the most annoying apps I’ve ever seen. However, our children – all of them – love it. You say something and the talking cat says it back to you. It’s like a horrible game of copy cat. But, it’s engaging. Thus it makes my list.
9. Netflix. Our Netflix account has been wonderful for watching shows, movies, etc. of both an entertainment and educational nature. The app is free, though the account is a monthly fee. We use this every day and the girls will often huddle together to watch something… who doesn’t love Dora the Explorer and Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman on command?!
10. iBlowFish. Another game with little to no educational value but useful in developing motor skills. You blow bubbles and if the poky fish poke the bubbles they pop. That’s all. Simple. Fun. The End.