New year coming, new school stuff on the horizon (yikes! standardized testing!) So it’s a good time to talk apps: fun apps, learning apps, whatever apps are on my kids’ tablets at the moment.
I make no secret of our technology use – we have very relaxed screen limits around here. We use the tablets and computer for schoolwork, for relaxation, and for play. Normal life for us probably involves some 4-5 hours of some form of screen time per day.
Don’t have a heart attack! That’s including school. That’s some video time, some game time, some music listening, and some puzzle solving all on one handy platform. For us, screen time is calming. It’s a form of relaxation – and even the “quiet time” stuff is actually educational in some way. Mostly.
We’re a wired household – the adults are on screens a lot as part of our jobs, and we use screens to relax after the kids are in bed and the job is done. We don’t expect our kids to be any different, but they do get a fair amount of active play, pretend play, and outside time as well. All things in moderation is our motto.
All families differ of course! What works for us may not work for you.
This year, I’m going to have to split the apps into two categories: preschooler and elementary. I was going to say big kid and little kid, but I doubt many people would view 6 as ‘big kid,’ even an advanced 6!
Please note: these are Android apps found in the Play Store. Most have Apple alternatives. They are all free or low-cost, and ad free because it really chaps my rear to pay for an app and still deal with ads.
A big one for this year: all of the Duck, Duck, Moose apps were bought by Khan Academy and are now free. That’s a great list of fun, educational apps for the littles!
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- The Wheels on the Bus
- Duck Duck Moose Reads
- More Trucks
- Fish School
- Pet Bingo (math app, for elementary)
It’s worth noting that Apple has almost double the apps than Android.
The only drawback to these is that there is an easily accessible menu for more Duck Duck Moose apps that the kids can open – selecting one will open it if you have it.
We’re still using the Spinlight Apps: AlphaTots Alphabet and TallyTots Counting. These are great for practicing letters and numbers for the younger set, and they’re interactive with little puzzles or activities for each letter/number. A really well designed game. Spinlight has a free e-book: Pixel and Parker. It’s cute and fun, and it’s more like a game than a book.
PBS Kids Video and Brainpop Jr. are perennial favorites, and PBS Games is a new favorite.
Dinosaur Train Mesozoic Math is an old favorite that still keeps their interest because it has their favorite Dinosaur Train characters like Tiny and Mr. Conductor in it.
Kids Doodle – Color Draw Pro – is a fun neon drawing app with an interesting record/playback feature for making short videos. The free version has adds.
Highlights has a stable of fun apps, but Highlights Monster Day is a free, fun little interactive story. The kids feed him, care for him, and help him during his school day.
Duplo/LEGO has a whole bunch of fun, free apps with the trademark figures and scenery they love.
- Lego TV
- Lego/Duplo Animals
- Lego/Duplo Circus
- Lego/Duplo Food
- Lego/Duplo Ice cream
- Lego/Duplo Trains (the Destroyer’s favorite!)
- Lego Juniors Create & Cruise
We love practically everything made by TocaBoca:
- Toca Cars
- Toca Hair
- Toca Elements
- Toca Nature
We still love Thinkrolls Logic Puzzles, Brio Railway, and Peekaboo Barn. We’re short on e-books, but the Sandra Boynton Collection and First Words for Baby are much enjoyed by the Destroyer.
The Train Games for Kids: Puzzles by Scott Adelman Apps Inc is a fun puzzle set that animates after the kids finish it. I love that they can choose their level of difficulty without a lot of menus.
Like Preschool, PBS Kids Video and Brainpop are a big hit. The Engineer prefers Brainpop to Brainpop Jr and I agree – the whiny little girl gets on my nerves. The Princess and Destroyer prefer Brainpop Jr.
A big change for us – we’re going with DragonBox apps for school this upcoming year. They have a big stable of math game apps in various levels, but fair warning, these are the most expensive apps we have. Most of the DragonBox apps are $8, but a few are less. Worth it.
- DragonBox Elements (geometry in a fun format)
- DragonBox Algebra 5+
- DragonBox Numbers
- DragonBox Big Numbers
AJ Academy: Amazing Animals by Wildworks is a National Geographic series of books about animals. Warning: this app is a memory hog – you have to download most of the set to your device. It’s not too bad, but it does take up space.
We’re working more on coding this year, and the easiest way to do that is through gaming. Our favorite coding app is a free Samsung coding app that comes with Kids’ Mode on all Samsung devices called Croco Adventures. I couldn’t find it on the Play Store, so it’s only offered through Samsung. Other coding games we’re using:
- EVO by Ozbot (works with Sphero robots)
- Sphero EDU – Coding for Sphero Robots
- Scratch Jr. (for tablets only)
Some other apps we’re using for school are:
- Stack the States – Dan Russell-Pinson. A geometry game.
- Stack the Countries – Dan Russell-Pinson. A world geometry game.
- Teach Your Monster to Read – Teach Monster Games Unlimited
- Circuit Builder – LJ Create (a virtual circuit simulator, a little difficult to understand)
- Classify It! – American Assn. for the Adv. of Science. A sorting game to classify life forms.
So there you have it – what’s on my kids’ tablets at this point in time. Hope it helps!