Doesn’t it seem like digital tablets are tailor-made for toddlers? With easy-to-swipe apps that have inviting kid-friendly animation, these devices have the power to keep your little wiggle worms calm, even on those long car rides to grandma’s house. But every parent knows that endless screen time isn’t good for growing minds, so make the most of your munchkin’s screen time with apps that are both educational and totally fun.
Besides the fact that most of these apps are free, they will also provide what every child needs at an early age–stimulating education, creativity and entertainment. Because I want you to be able to concentrate on the road and your planned destination, I’ve found 10 educational apps that I think will do a pretty great job at being a back seat companion for your child.
- YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids is a selection of kid-friendly channels that range from Sesame Street, to Peppa Pig, to educational and music videos. This free app comes with parental controls that include a timer so you can set limits on how long your kid can watch videos. It also has a search feature with voice recognition, which is great for your toddler.
- PBS Kids
The PBS Kids app is a great resource to keep them busy in the back seat. Your child can pick from hundreds of clips from more than a dozen PBS Kids shows. It gives you the peace of mind to know that your child isn’t watching something that they shouldn’t be.
- Intro to Math
Intro to Math does exactly what the name suggests. It introduces children to the numbers 0-9 through a series of games and activities. Your child can arrange rods from longest to shortest, or learn to draw numbers by tracing them on the screen.
- Maily: Your kids’ first email
Maily is a parent-controlled email account that makes it easy to create images and messages and then share them. This can be a nice way for your child to keep in contact with other family members.
- Drawing Pad
This app is more than just the iPad version of paper and crayons, Drawing Pad gives children easy access to a digital art tool-kit including markers, paint brushes, colored pencils and stickers. Now you can save room on your fridge for things that matter (like your favorite menus and your to-do lists) and have your child’s creations shared online or saved directly to the iPad instead.
- Chalk Pad
Every kid needs a paint canvas, and Chalk Pad is a great free alternative to some of the other paid apps in the App Store. This app allows your child to chalk it up with multiple colors. This is a great alternative for younger toddlers who might not spend as much time freestyling on the chalkboard to make a paid app worth your money.
- Elmo Loves ABCs for iPad
We all know that toddlers love Elmo, and this app uses the furry red monster to teach them all about the alphabet. Your child will not only learn how to identify letters and sounds, but will also get to watch 80 Sesame Street clips including the classic alphabet song and have a blast discovering the Sesame Street coloring pages.
- Wee Alphas
As parents and their children read about the likes of Charlie the Chipmunk and Eli the Elephant, kids are encouraged to find the first letter of the animal in the animations. They also get to practice drawing letters on an interactive sketchpad.
Rather than simply trying to teach kids the names of the various animals featured in this question-based app, Peek-a-Zoo aims to educate them about emotions, actions and positions. Your child views each animal smiling, crying, winking, waving, eating and more. They then must analyze the animals for clues to answer the questions.
- My First 101 Words
This is another app for teaching toddlers their first words (you can probably guess how many), which uses video rather than just text and narration. Each word is demonstrated through video clips starring a boy and girl, giving your toddler the ability to play and replay each, or shuffle them.
See, there are loads of great educational apps out there for toddlers! And although I’ve tried to include the best that I know of, I’d love to hear what other apps your little ones are enjoying, so please share your favorite apps in the comments section below.