Here are three great apps for the toddler age group, and books that will help to reinforce the skills learned from the apps even more!
1) Caillou's World
Based on the popular show Caillou which airs on PBS, this app is perfect for the pre-reader. To play, the child selects a scene (such as the playground or crosswalk), and an object in the scene flashes in bright colors. When the child taps on the flashing object, it is enlarged and the child is prompted to choose which letter the object starts with.
Why an educational psychologist likes this app (um...that's me): Phonemic awareness activities, such as the phonemic isolation in this app, aid literacy skills!
Why baby bookworm likes this app: Caillou! Seriously, this kid is obsessed with this bald-headed character.
Why you'll like this app: Your child won't mind practicing phonemic isolation in the least with the help of Caillou.
Related books: There is a whole host of Caillou books and the cool thing is that you can find books on this site by theme, and that are appropriate for your child's age.
Learning tips: Take some time to guide your child through the app a few times until he gets the hang of it. When you read the Caillou books, make connections back to Caillou's World. You could even use the app and book together by finding an object in the illustrations that also begins with the same letter as the object in the game.
Critique: If I have to make one minor critique of this app, it's that sometimes the flashing objects in the scene are difficult to spot because they are small. But, with a little help from an adult, your child will catch on and if he doesn't find the object, the game does move forward automatically.
2) Richard Scarry's Busytown
This app is modeled after Richard Scarry's beloved word books and resembles Busy, Busy Town. At the start of the app, the child selects a character (bunny, cat, pig or fox), gives him a name, and dresses him up. Then that character picks a place to explore such as the kitchen, grocery store, playground, firehouse, bedroom or bathroom. The object of the game is to help another furry friend find an item in the room selected.
|Dressing her character|
Why I like this app: The search and find aspect of the app aids a lot of skills such as matching, memory, comparison, and object recognition! Oh, and of course the word labels are fostering the development of literacy skills, too.
Why baby bookworm likes this app: She LOVES selecting the character and dressing him or her up!
Why you'll like this app: It brings the popular books and characters "to life".
Related books: If you aren't familiar with Richard Scarry's books - get familiar! I can remember reading them as a child and am thrilled to have passed my books on to my own daughter. I only wish I'd had a fun app like this one when I was a kid!
Learning tips: After your child is done playing, ask him about what he learned. What objects did he have to find? What character did he choose? What was his favorite room to explore?
3) Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar
Given the name, I'm sure you can figure out that this app is based on the ever so popular book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Explore numbers, counting, and vocabulary in this colorful app that will challenge your child for years to come.
Why I like this app: It's great for practicing one-to-one correspondence (each item has its own counting label), the cardinality rule (the name of last item you count represents the quantity of the entire set of items), and the flexible application rule (no matter what objects you are counting, whether it's strawberries or lollipops, you count them in the same way, using the same counting words).
Why you'll like this app: It grows with your child. Thanks to 5 difficulty levels, there's no chance your child is getting bored with it anytime soon!
Related books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Reinforce the number and counting skills learned in the app by playing your own game with the book!
Learning tips: Challenge your child and support his learning by playing the app with him on a level that is slightly above their ability level.
All three of these apps are from Night & Day Studios (and they also have a really cute Go Away Big Green Monster app that I wrote about a few months ago) and can be purchased for just a few dollars.
Disclosure: I did receive free copies of these apps from Night & Day Studios, but it in no way influenced my opinion (or baby bookworm's).