If you are a parent or have anything to do with kids, you definitely know about the fascination that kids have with anything that has a screen, especially if it is a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet. It is amazing to see that this generation of kids somehow knows exactly what buttons to press and what screens to swipe on a mobile device!
You know the adage: “There’s an app for everything”. Of course, games are the popular apps, but there’s more than just entertainment. Parents and teachers are starting to leverage on this trend and beginning to harness the power of apps for enrichment and education. Research shows that mobile devices are very likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within K – 12 education within a 2 year time frame (Horizon Report). Of course, if you are a parent, you probably realised this trend a long time before this research was out.
And indeed, many commercial companies have started harnessing this trend too. Not only there are specific accessories being created for mobile devices (paint brushes for tablets, anyone?) but increasingly there are tablets specifically developed for children. Companies like Microsoft and Nokia have announced new features for parents so that kids can customise their parents’ mobile devices, keeping parent’s applications out of bounds.
But with all this noise around hardware and software, it can be an exhausting exercise to choose the right content for kids. Worry not, The Whiz Times has compiled a list of 5 Amazing Apps for kids for iPhone, iPad and Android devices!
iSmarty (Suitable for 6 years and younger)
A fun app especially designed for smaller children. The app interface is pretty easy for little players to navigate and requires no reading to play. Fifteen mama animals ask you to help find their babies — all of which are hiding in plain sight. Finding and matching the right mamas and babies gives a great sense of achievement for the kids, along with providing plenty of fun. To make the challenge a little more challenging, each scene is also populated by a number of other baby animals, so you need to differentiate between, for example, the baby hippo that’s looking for its mama and the baby elephant and giraffe that also happen to be hanging out in the jungle. The app also has a reward system in the form of virtual stickers that are added to your home screen. In line with the ‘no reading needed’ philosophy, the instructions are narrated with a voice-over.
Barefoot World Atlas (6 Years +)
The Barefoot World Atlas makes your iPhone or iPad the launch pad for a virtual trip around the world. The app allows for exploring the world’s continents, great oceans and changing environments by spinning, zooming and flying around a 3D animated globe. It’s not all about geography though – you learn about different cultures and people from around the planet, and find out about their way of life. You can also encounter amazing wildlife, discover famous landmarks, fantastic natural features and remarkable buildings.
Start by choosing a point of interest on a 3D animated globe, and as you travel through each region, tap icons to learn about the people, places, wildlife, and climate that comprise that area. The app features narration from BBC broadcaster Nicholas Crane, and if you find a particularly interesting spot on the map, you can even save it to a favourites list.
iPhone + iPad, US$4.99
Alph and Betty’s Topsy Turvy World (6 Years +)
Priced at a little less than US$3, this feature-rich app with 40+ activities and mini games is good value-for-money for those who have an iPhone or iPad. Quirky illustrations and lots of features to explore keep children occupied while retaining their interest for a long time. We also like that there are no advertisements or in-app purchases to distract children. This app allows children to learn new words, practice their reading skills and play a variety of educational games using their logic and problem solving talents.
iPhone and iPad, US$2.99
GardenLab (6 Years +)
With this app, you can create your own virtual garden. Along with an entertaining environment, this app also introduces children to nature’s cycles (night and day, rain and wind, etc.), gives an introduction to basic colours (blending primary and secondary colours), basic mathematics practice (addition and subtraction) and of course, taking care of the environment.
Visually appealing, this app also has some gamification elements built in. Caring for the plants allows the child to earn hearts, which can then be redeemed like money for fancier seeds and garden décor. This provides an introduction to financial responsibility, as you really have to earn those hearts through work before you can ‘buy’ the extra gardening items. But don’t worry – no real money needed here as there are no pesky in-app purchases!
iPhone and iPad, US$2.99
My Little Work – Garage (6 Years +)
What does a kid do when someone needs help with their car? Solve the problem of course! This little app lets kids experience what it’s like to work in garage through fun mini games. The app has interesting graphics and a reward point system to keep players coming back.
This is not just about fixing cars, but also allows for a basic understanding of how businesses work. Kids can run their own garage and help solve customer problems, earn virtual money by fixing cars, save money then use this to buy parts to build their dream racing car. This app features non-languages voices suitable for all ages and nationalities. Also, cool characters and no in-app purchases add to the overall appeal.
iPhone and iPad, US$1.99
For more fun and educational app reviews, click here.
Story contributed by The Whiz Times – the only digital platform that gives a smarter head-start to kids in a fast changing world.