Screen time on the iPad is definitely not something that happens too often at our house. In fact, I keep the iPad out of sight as often as I remember. For Jude, it is totally out-of-sight out-of-mind. Though for those long days of running errands, road trips, or for those extra rough times when I need something to keep my toddler still and quiet for longer than 15 minutes – These are our favorite learning apps for toddlers for teaching and motor skills…
- Zoo Train – Jude is obsessed with trains, and this cute app contains five train games that involve puzzles, music, building, and spelling. Now that he is older – 2 1/2 – he is doing great with the spelling and actually trying to repeat the words! It has helped with speech because he NEVER will say what I ask him to repeat.
- Peekaboo Barn – This app is adorable and VERY basic. The barn doors shake and you tap on the door to reveal a new animal. It goes through 16 and a cute nighttime scene of them sleeping. Although basic, Jude still loves this one and while playing, this was the first time I ever heard him repeat words. Since he has struggled so much with speech, it was huge!
- Duplo Trains – Again, for the train lover! This one has a lot of interaction to build the train, load it, punch passenger tickets, fill up with gas, build bridges, blow the whistle, pick the train’s speed, and more. Very cute! It keep him engaged for quite a while.
- Daniel Tiger – I bought the bundle of 4 apps. They pair perfectly with the show he loves to watch. One has all the things Daniel Tiger does when getting ready in the morning and then when he goes to bed at night – bathtime, brushing teeth, going potty, getting dressed, setting the table, bedtime story etc. . . The Grr-ific Feelings app includes mini music videos of each of the songs from the episodes and Jude will play these OVER and OVER. And lately in the Explore app that has the entire town that you walk through and full of activities – he is a huge fan of cake decorating in the bakery lol…
5. Nighty Night – This is my favorite! There is Nighty Night Circus and James has the Nighty Night Farmhouse on his phone. Designed as a bedtime activity, you click on all the lights in the tents/rooms and turn out the lights to put the animals to bed. Each animal makes noises and does cute little things when you tap on them. Jude giggles so loud every time the bear in the circus pops his balloon animals that he’s trying to make. I love how things rarely get old for toddlers!
6. SoundTouch – This was the first and only app we had for a long time when Jude was younger. It is kind of like sound flash cards with lots of animals, vehicles, household objects, and music instruments that when you tap on it pulls up a real life photo of that thing with the noise it makes. It does not show the same picture or make the same noise each time either – but has about 5 or 6 variations for each. I’m pretty sure this app is why Jude connected noises to everything before words. He still loves it!
Jude also spends a lot of time with Disney’s La Luna app – you can just watch the short film or put it in storybook or interactive story mode. He also really like Tony the Truck – if you child is into Mighty Machines type vehicles, this is a great app!
If you look into it, you’ll notice that all of the apps do cost money – generally $5 and under. Some have “lite” versions that are free and only have a few features, but in my opinion, it’s worth paying a few dollars for full versions. I had a handful of the free ones and ended upgrading and paying for them all anyway. Besides, it gets annoying when Jude is constantly clicking on ads or stuck in the “purchase more” section of the free apps.
Side thought: Isn’t it crazy and scary how quickly little people catch on to navigating tablets and phones? They get addicted quick, too! Which is why I try to stay on top of minimal screen time. Though at the same time, some of these apps are what got Jude speaking better. Ugh – So bittersweet.