You’re probably thinking “What? Under-5 iPhone users?” Well, that’s exactly how I felt until the first time I handed my brand new iPhone 3G over to my 4-year-old twins. I needed just 15 minutes of quiet after I made mistake of bringing them along to an important meeting. I quickly went to the Reading apps for education and entertainment and found an application for preschoolers for 99 cents, and right then and there, they were addicted – and my iPhone wasn’t really mine anymore.
Apple likes to target the younger buyer in their advertising, but they probably never had the under-five set in mind as potential iPhone users. Well, neither did I when I shelled out $200 for my new phone, not to mention the even pricier AT&T contract. My phone has now become their favorite toy and I have to wait my turn if I want to use it. They know how to flip to the screen with their favorite apps and are nice enough to answer all my incoming calls that interrupt their games – and promptly hang up so they can get back to playing.
I can’t be the only one out there with a hijacked iPhone, so if this sounds familiar to you, take a look at a few of my kids’ favorite apps, all of them parent-approved for appropriate content and educational value – and also a bargain at only 99 cents each.
1) Our first kid app remains our favorite: Preschool Adventure by 3DAL. The best thing about it is it caters to short attention spans by offering six different games, all of them educational. Kids can learn colors, numbers, shapes and body parts, as well as do a silly little matching game and touch animals on a barnyard background to hear their sounds. The kids are getting a little old for this one, so it’s probably better for the 3 and under group.
2) Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose Design is their new favorite and your kids will find this riff on the old classic “Wheels on the Bus” both entertaining and good for a sing-along. They can tap and slide their way through different scenes on a bus as doors open and shut; wipers swish and passengers bounce up and down. Parents will probably be amused by trying out the different language and music options. Did you know wipers go “Shwee shwee shwee” in France?
3) Also by 3DAL is another of our favorites, Preschool Music. It has the same colorful and simple graphics as Preschool Adventure but focuses on music. You’ll find a simple keyboard where kids can compose a tune that’s then recited by a cheerful parrot, an undersea percussion and rhythm game, and a silly group of parrots that sing in a round. They’ll be as fascinated as you are irritated by the repetition of musical sounds.
4) If you’ve got a Pre-K kid who needs to learn sight words, you’ll find an Interactive gaming apps for kids just for that with SightWords. It’s pretty basic, but you’ll find 300+ high frequency “flash cards” and your child can move from levels 1 to 5 as they master one set of words. They can touch the screen to hear the word pronounced if they’re stumped, and move back and forth from word to word with arrows at the bottom of the screen.
5) To finish it off, everyone’s least favorite: Math. Well, not really. My kids think it’s great, and are starting to understand basic math concepts thanks to Math Magic. It gently prompts kids towards the right answers with encouraging “You can do it-s” when they get an answer wrong, plus with lots of flashy stars and other animation, they’ll feel like they’re playing a game instead of learning simple addition and subtraction.