It seems inevitable when you are travelling these days, especially during long haul flights or long distance car journeys that you will succumb to handing over the iPad to keep your kids entertained.
While I am sure some kids would be quite happy to sit and watch Peppa Pig or Charlie & Lola for a straight 12-hour flight, variety is the spice of life and we parents can alleviate our guilty consciences by filling up that iPad with a selection of fun and educational games, to ensure our kids are actually learning something at 33,000 feet… and we can enjoy our gin & tonics in peace. With that in mind, here is our pick of the best iPad apps for pre-schoolers that are both educational, and fun.
Table of Contents
Color by Numbers – Animals
by Kedronic UAB
From toucans to rabbits, giraffes to turtles, the Color by Numbers colouring book is a fun colouring app, with different modes to choose from to suit different capabilities. Colour by matching colours, colour by numbers, and also colour by doing simple math sums to find the correct number to fill in. There are several other colouring books to choose from too, such as Princesses, Flowers and Vehicles.
Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic
by Bob Books Publications LLC
Bob Books #1 is a phonics-based interactive game to help introduce the concept of reading. The simple drag and drop interface helps children sound out and spell simple words, and make the connection between the letters and sounds. There are twelve scenes, featuring 32 words, and four games levels provide increasing challenges for children as they play.
Eggy Add to 20
by Blake eLearning
Eggy Add to 20 is a great introduction to maths and addition for little ones. Six different games help make learning addition fun – from popping balloons, to counting sheep, snowboarding and fishing, with each activity comprising two or three levels to ensure progressive learning. Eggy Add to 20 can be bought as part of the Reading Eggs bundle, which includes several other Eggy games, focusing on reading, vocabulary, phonics and maths.
Toca HairSalon Me
by Toca Boca AB
So much fun to be had in the hair salon with Toca Boca. Take a photo of yourself and create your own hairstyle to suit you – long or short, curly or straight, shaved on one side or sprayed purple or pink. Then accessorise with sunglasses, hair clips, hats and moustaches. Oh, and did we mention the characters make fun faces and noises while you style them?
by Originator Inc.
Endless Reader helps set the stage for reading success, by introducing “sight words” – ie. those words that cannot be ‘sounded out’ by phonics knowledge. Fun furry monsters focus on the most commonly used sight words, to help your kids learn to recognize them by sight and achieve reading fluency. Other apps in the Endless series include Endless Numbers and Endless Wordplay.
This fun phonics game is based on Montessori learning methods. Kids develop their reading, writing and spelling skills by building words using word-image-audio-phonics combinations. The game comes in four levels, with level 1 displaying simple three-letter words, and level 4 featuring more complex phonics and the multi-word crosswords. Montessori Crosswords is also included in the Learn to Read, Write and Count bundle together with Writing Wizard (see below) and Montessori Numbers.
Writing Wizard helps children learn how to write by tracing letters, numbers and words. Animated stickers, sound effects, and interactive games that animate letters at the end of tracing keep the activity full of fun. You can create your own word lists and record audio for them, and even create PDF worksheets to print for actual writing practice with pen and paper.
by MarcoPolo Learning Inc.
My kids are obsessed with animals and sea creatures, so MarcoPolo Ocean is a big hit with them. With this app they can build a boat or submarine and then go explore the ocean, all the way from the shoreline to the seabed, learning all about marine animals and fish along the way. Fun facts are gleaned as they discover where the different sea creatures live and how they interact with one another. A must for Octonauts fans!
Jake’s Never Land Pirate School
Ahoy me hearties! Join Jake and the Crew for four fun-filled pirate themed classes and earn Badges of Honour. Classes include: Sailing Bucky around obstacles to collect barrels and fruit and shoot balls to passing dolphins and whales; Learning to play five different instruments in the Pirate Band; Navigating Never Land to find treasure using a map and spyglass; and flying though mazes with Izzy and Scully and tracing shapes to scare away Captain Hook. Fun!
Sid’s Science Fair
by PBS Kids
Sid from TV show Sid the Science Kid helps introduce core science and maths concepts through three different Science Fair games in this experiential learning app. In Gabriela’s ‘Collection Inspection’, kids use a magnifying glass to identify patterns amongst butterflies, buttons, leaves and coins. May’s ‘Chart It!’ game encourages them to visualize data by categorizing and sorting objects by colour, position and pattern. Gerald’s ‘Time Machine’ introduces the concept of sequencing, as you order pictures into the correct order – such as a snowman melting, or a flower growing, before watching the time machine in action.
For more ideas, check out our other article – Best iPad Apps for Toddlers.
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