Software and Games for Toddlers
It will take you a long time to investigate everything that is available for toddlers. Undoubtedly your little one will settle on some favorites and enjoy repetition and mastery. Inger Fountain offers useful suggestions in her article, “Which Early Learning Software Is Best for Your Toddler?” Most early-learning software teaches the use of the mouse, keyboard, and screen. Not a lot of content will be involved. Your child will learn that touching the screen creates a visual change or a voice speaking to her. This is the main point of the simplest programs.
Many of the blogs concerning apps for toddlers are written by computer programmers who are parents of young children themselves. In desperation for quality apps, they created some and began writing about them. Just Google “apps for toddlers,” and you will find a slew of interesting things to read.
Jumpstart and the Learning Company offer Jumpstart Toddler and Reader Rabbit. These companies are trustworthy and their programs are generally frustration free for the toddler. Fountain also recommends software games such as Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, Finding Nemo, Winnie the Pooh, and Bob the Builder. These games have been around since 2007 and are fun and reliable.
Nicole Twohig recommends various applications for your iPhone to keep your toddler entertained while you are in the car or in line at the supermarket. Fish School from Duck Duck Moose is an entertaining program for children as young as two and a half. Probably your smart phone has become an integral part of your life, and your toddler will want his piece of the action. The Apple website offers a wide selection of apps for the youngest children, and various parents’ magazines regularly review the newest twenty-five each month. At the time of this printing, Angry Fish is a very popular program for children. Montessorium offers early applications for learning numbers.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends Julia’s Rainbow Corner, Starfall, and StoryPlace. StoryPlace offers stories in both English and Spanish, a boon if you’d like your tot to be exposed to Spanish quite early.
Some free software programs (shareware) include CyberStart for Children, StudyDog, Sebran’s ABCs, and TuxPaint. All of these are recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Sebran’s programs are offered in a wide array of foreign languages. Other offerings are Minesebran and Pick a Picture.
When people look at one object and can imagine other uses for it, they engage in the kind of creative thought that leads to innovations. Innovations have brought human beings from campfires to microwaves, from horses to jet planes. To help youngsters develop intellectually, parents should target their toddler’s use of digital devices in ways that encourage divergent thinking.
More Pros and Cons
Representatives from the Association of Early Childhood Education say that today’s young children are not actually more savvy than children in previous generations. They may use more screen items, but they do not necessarily understand them. They are apt to give up easily and not fully explore each web page, including scrolling down. This seems to indicate that, again, it is always wise for the parent to play the games and activities with the child, when at all possible.
Use your best parental judgment when you select software. Childrenssoftware.com and Superkids.com both do reviews of programs for children. Educator Larry Cuban recommends these reviews and recommendations, even if there is a small charge to access the information.
Microsoft offers PixelWhimsy, a program created by a Microsoft employee who wanted a program that allows toddlers to bang on the keys of a regular computer, without hurting it, creating sounds, colors, and shapes. Toddlers seem to like PixelWhimsy better than toy computers. Little ones are hard to fool, even at two years old. They like to imitate adults.
Sesamestreet.org offers “The Wheels on the Bus,” a simple game in which the toddler touches the keyboard and the wheels go around. Benedetti, a reviewer of games for children, also recommends the sites PBSkids.org, Kneebouncers.com, Noggin.com, and NickJr.com.
Following are some iPhone apps that you might want to investigate:
Bubble Popper is a fun game in which your toddler touches the rounded shape of the bubble, as in bubble wrap, and the screen emits a popping sound. Much safer than actual Bubble Wrap! There’s even a score for how many bubbles are popped.
Scoops encourages your little one to tilt the screen right and left in order to prevent a tower of ice cream from falling over. She also has a chance to choose scoops of different colors and group them together.
Doodle Buddy is a little more artsy. This iPhone app lets the tot work with all kinds of backgrounds, shapes, lines, and colors. There is even a way to use a picture of yourself or the child! Of course, older children will draw mustaches on each other, the ultimate revenge.
Giraffe’s Matching Zoo provides a good exercise in matching pictures of animals. It is more portable than the conventional games of Concentration or Lotto, making it one that you might want to take in the car or the supermarket shopping cart.
Monkey Preschool LunchBox gives you six games, each encouraging several different skills, with a reward of a virtual sticker at the end of the game.
ShapeBuilder lets your little one drag puzzle pieces into place, making various pictures, numbers, and letters. The game tells the player when the correct shape is made.
As well as being available on the computer from Sesame Street, Wheels on the Bus can be played on your iPhone. The player can open and close the bus doors, move the wipers, and turn the wheels.
Alphabet Sonnets is an app that teaches the ABCs with poems and songs.
First Word Animals teaches kids how to spell the names of animals. You pull the letter to the place in the word, and the phone says the name of the letter and the word. Your older toddler might enjoy this game.
Tozzle is popular with many parents and children. The player pulls the puzzle shapes into matching silhouettes. The app includes twenty different puzzle shapes.
iTunes offers Hippo Hooray Colors, which teaches your toddler color recognition and names. He might also enjoy Hippo Hooray Letters and Hippo Hooray Shapes. These games are played merely with a light touch of the phone screen. A voice prompt leads the child through the sequence.