Five Great Learning Apps for Kids
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly today’s kids grasp technology, particularly mobile technology and touch screens. I am guilty, it has to be said, of using the iPad and iPhone to keep my son quiet while we are out, letting him play Angry Birds or watch a movie. But recently I decided that if he was going to be using the device anyway, it would at least be good to make it into as much of an educational experience as possible, so I did some research on some of the better apps available for three- to eight-year-olds.
Before I go any further, let me mention that leading experts recommend children aged two or younger do not use tablets or smartphones at all, as they can disrupt sleep patterns, cause eye problems, and affect development of speech and language comprehension.
Also, for three- to four-year-olds, it is important to break up their use of devices every 20 to 30 minutes with “talk time,” asking the kids about what they are doing and using it as a tool for speech development. For four-year-olds and up, 40 minutes is the maximum recommended time per session. And in all cases, make sure the device is a sufficient distance away from the child’s eyes.
Having said all this, here are five of my family’s favorite iPhone and iPad learning apps for kids aged three to eight:
Letter Quiz by Tantrum Apps (Free to ¥200)
Letter Quiz is a great app for kids just starting to learn the alphabet. The app lets the user pick from four options: flash cards with audio (for example, A is for apple), upper and lower case matching, letter tracing (great for teaching stroke order) and find the letter. A nice feature is when each task is completed, the kids can set off fireworks for a good job, so there is a real sense of accomplishment.
Jellybean Tunes by Garry Froehlich (¥300)
A great introduction to music and learning for kids, this colorful app illustrates simple music theory and notation in a fun way. Kids can play songs, record themselves with the music while looking at onscreen notes, and compose their own songs. It’s an easy to use and well designed app.
かなもじ Kanamoji by Harashow Interactive (¥400)
If your kids are learning Japanese, this is a great app to help them to learn hiragana characters. Like Letter Quiz, it teaches kids each character and stroke order, as well as broadening vocabulary with examples and interactive coloring games.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint & Play by Disney (¥200)
From the popular Disney animated series, this app is a very interactive animated coloring book. All the characters are included and kids can use hundreds of tools, colors and textures in 2D and 3D to learn about line, form and symmetry.
LetterSchool by Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V. (Free to ¥300)
This is a fantastic app for literacy and numeracy. Kids practice essential skills as they play four exciting games per letter or number. This was a top seller on iTunes U.S. and has won many educational awards.