When I read the recent study by Child Guide magazine which found 53 percent of kids own a cell phone by age 7, I was a little surprised.
I know many of my middle school students have their own devices, but I never had a mobile phone (as we called them back in the day) until I was in college – and I paid the bill. Times have certainly changed, and in some ways, that’s not such a bad thing.
I can certainly see the advantages of having a cell phone at a young age. Many parents want their children to have phones for safety reasons. In addition, children are becoming more and more connected at school and home. As a teacher who uses technology daily in the classroom, I strive to prepare my students to become 21st century learners and have the skills that will carry with them into the workplace.
Even though my daughter isn’t packing a smartphone at age 3, she’s certainly proficient at navigating ours. I know technology is going to be a part of her future as a student and member of society.
The iPad is one of her favorite “toys,” and I let her play with it a bit each day. She’s learning. By utilizing some great educational apps, I can see my daughter learning more each day. There has to be a balance between screen time and other play, but I am all for a little tech time!
Below are a few educational apps for toddlers based on recommendations from local moms (and their kids).
1. I Write Words (App store: $2.99 full version, Free lite version)
Mr. Crab guides your child through handwriting tutorials, allowing kids to learn how to form letters and numbers on an iOS device. Children can use their finger or a stylus to write.
“I got ‘I Write Words’ for my kindergartener because he was having problems with letters and numbers,” Kathy Glow, Omaha blogger at Lifewiththefrog.com said. “My two year old used it instead and learned the whole alphabet in no time. His preschool teachers can't believe how much he knows!”
2. Endless Alphabet (App store: $6.99, Google Play: Free)
Omaha blogger, Nicole McDonald of momsavesmoney.net recommends “Endless Alphabet” for the ways the app uses videos and sounds to help kids learn.
“The kids move the letters to spell a simple word. As the letters move, it makes the phonetic sounds. Then when they complete the word, a really cool video plays demonstrating the word,” McDonald said. “My two younger kids had their alphabet down before preschool because of this app.”
3. Todo Math (App store: Free)
For math preparation, Omaha artist and blogger Erin Human of eisforerin.com recommends “TodoMath.” Since Human is an artist, she’s always looking for apps with great visual appeal, which Todo Math definitely has.
“Todo Math is an amazing app with a big variety of games and math concepts,” Human said.
Todo is a multi-level game where kids can choose a mission or free choice. It also has accessibility options available immediately for left-handed kids and a font designed to help children with dyslexia read better. Activities are designed to help with counting, patterns, and more.
4. ABCmouse.com (App store: Free, Google Play: Free both require subscription)
My daughter’s new favorite app is “ABCmouse.com.” The app is free, but the subscription is $7.95 per month, with discounts for purchasing longer periods up front. We just started the free trial, and she is never bored with ABCmouse. The activities range from reading, math, art, science and more on a customized learning path based on your child’s level. The songs are catchy, the books are fun to read and children earn tickets as incentives to buy things for their “room,” “pets” and avatar. ABCmouse is free for teachers who use it at their school.
These are just a few apps that local families are trying out with their kids. I always recommend reading reviews, checking out lite versions of the apps before buying a full version and taking advantage of free trials. You never know what things your kids are going to love and learn from until they try it out.