Here are our favourite educational and engaging apps for your toddler, kiddo and tween
As mamas we all know how excruciating long-haul flights can be with toddlers, between the tantrums, the grisly toilet accidents and the Defcon 4 meltdowns over the in-flight meals… We need to break out more than just the chocolate bars and ice-cream to appease our lovable rogues. To keep you Mamas sane and (somewhat) sassy, we’ve put together for you a rodeo roundup of interactive apps that will keep your little ones and tweens entertained (at least until the wheels go down!).
2-4 year olds
- Letter school is a gem of an educational app that gets your little ones’ motor skills fired up in time for writing in Year 1. By using entertaining railway tracks, disco lights, ropes and firecrackers, kids will enjoy practicing their writing and gearing up for primary school without even realising it. #winwin
- Build a Word Express helps kids learn how to spell by using phonics or names of the letters. The focus here is on getting kids to string letters together to form words with visual and audio cues, to identify sounds, to get familiar with upper and lower case letters and there are additionally customised functions for special needs’ students.
- Bugs & Buttons is a highly entertaining app that my little boy loved. It teaches kids about colours, sorting, matching, maths and shapes by using an engaging high-definition interface with bees, ants and spiders… oh my!
- Calling all caped crusaders! Comic Maker HD is one of those apps that can set your kids’ world alight. Your budding Picassos start by choosing their own landscape to set the scene for their superheroes that they can size, colour and add a vast array of additional creatures to.
- Skyview is a stellar app that enables your cherub to stargaze, learn about constellations, and identify stars just by pointing their iPad up at the sky. A short-cut to the stars featuring an augmented reality that lets your little one capture pictures and share them with others. In the words of Hasbro, good for 3 – 83 year olds.
5-8 year olds
- If your tyke is interested in planets, and astronomy is not quite on the cards yet, Grandpa in Space is a fun app that lets them navigate through our solar system, learn about a planet’s make-up, build their own rockets and travel at warp speed with a few alien encounters on the way. With a front row seat to the stars – what’s not to love?
- On the theme of aliens, Alien Story tests your child’s logic and memory skills through a series of fun obstacles. When one of the aliens gets left behind on earth, your child is asked to help build a spaceship and get him back home. Learn they will, as this app is great for spatial intelligence and imagination and pulls mamas in as well.
- Mystery Math Town takes your little whippersnapper on a highly enjoyable exploration through the rooms of a whimsical haunted house that is part spooky and part comical. Caught between a Game of Cluedo and a Sherlock animation, as a ghost, your tyke’s mission is to collect fireflies while navigating through the rooms and eventually through all the rows of houses. Your Mini-Me will be yelping for joy as (s)he unlocks the next house/level and won’t realise that they’re honing their math skills at the same time… Gold dust. This one’s best for 5-6 year olds, try Mystery Math Museum for the 6-8 year old bambino bracket.
- In time for Primary 1 and 2, Charlie Jumped out of the Clock Lite is a delightful storybook app that teaches kids the basics of telling time. A grumpy grandpa is the protagonist in this story and your child has to ensure that grandpa gets through his daily chores by learning the o’clock’s, the half and quarter pasts and the meaning of am and pm.
- The Human Body by Tinybop is a visual and auditory delight; it’s a great visual introduction to biology and the functions of our anatomy, complete with sounds and cues that enables your rapscallion to tease different reactions from the organs. They can also disassemble and rebuild the skeletal system.
- Between racks, weights, gears and pulleys your little one’s synapses will be firing on all cylinders with Crazy Gears. For all budding engineers, architects and techies, this app reels you in and fine-tunes your child’s logic skills on the way.
For the aspiring coders, Tynker, Tiny Tower, LightBot, Kodable, Move The Turtle and Dragon Journey are the perfect platforms to get their fundamental coding skills underway. Tynker features adorable pixie-like avatars and is highly intuitive and lets your child progress at their own pace. They manage their own learning about programming through game-like puzzles and interactive tutorials. It goes a step further and lets your child design their own games afterwards by using drag and drop programmes.
9-14 year olds
- If your little one is the next Tim the Tool Man Taylor, Monster Physics builds on your child’s trouble-shooting and problem solving skills.They also learn about gravity and mass. By using basic principles of physics and engaging their critical thinking capabilities, they can use the ‘build’ feature to construct their own contraptions. Kids feel empowered as they use bricks, pulleys, magnets and wood to build. “It’s going down, they’re yelling timber…!”
- Featuring an augmented reality, the Adventures of Poco Eco takes your child on a musical, meditative escapade accompanied by stimulating visuals. The avatars are peaceful cartoon beings guiding your child through a wonderland ripe for exploration. Low-key ambient music makes this a great antidote to many of the more noisy, addictive games out there – with just enough puzzle twisters to make it challenging.
- And finally, while you are globe trotting, your tweens can use this opportunity to brush up on their linguistic skills with Duolingo: Learn Languages Free. Who needs to spend money on tutors when this free language app utilises an encouraging game-style system to teach French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and German. Wunderbar!