Best of 2014 Preschool Toolbox
Thinking about getting an iPad for the holidays? One in which you can enrich your preschooler’s curiosity about the world around them and help them begin to build skills needed for school? Well, look no further, because we have a list to get you started. These apps are from developers who produce consistently great products, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. When checking out the featured app, be sure to hit the related tab for more apps from these developers, or check out their bundled deals.
The most important thing about using an iPad with preschoolers is…..screen time is time for Interaction. Kids learn best through interaction and play. Using the iPad can teach and model concepts and skills and then you can transfer those skills into real time experience off screen. Here are some of our favorites, not in any particular order.
Tiggly Shapes and Tiggly Counts are ingenious manipulatives are sold in the Apple Stores…for those of us that need immediate gratification and can’t wait the one or two days for delivery. They teach spatial awareness by combining manipulatives and apps, and they are just plain fun. Each set of manipulatives comes with 3 apps. Tiggly Shapes also has a Christmas App, which is very exciting. You don’t necessarily need the manipulatives to play…but wouldn’t it be fun to play, and then have Santa deliver the pieces to play with? (Tiggly.com, Amazon, or your nearest Apple Store) Read all about these wonderful apps and manipulative toys here@Teachers With Apps, we are in the process of reviewing Tiggly Counts as you read!
For simple cause and effect play, there are no finer apps than Night & Day Studios Inc. I adore their Peekaboo Series, and with a great variety of choices, there is always one that is right for a particular student. Having a familiar play scheme such as peekaboo presented in a new way puts kids at ease and is a real confidence builder. These apps help teach basic iPad skills as well as cause and effect.Peekaboo Sesame Street and Peekaboo Barn have always been big hits.Their newest Peekaboo Barn Farm Day is also a big hit! Read up on this super star here@Teachers With Apps.
Avokiddo’s app Emotions-Playful Learning for kids has always been a gold standard for teaching kids both the range of emotions and that we all have sensory preferences and dislikes. I have never seen this app fail to get a pleasurable response from any child. In the app, kids interact with one of three characters and see the range of responses they have when presenting different objects to the animals. Other apps from Avokiddo are sure fire hits too! For Learning ABC’s, ABC Ride absolutely exceeds all expectations. This app teaches not only the ABC’s but also the phonetic sound of letters and sight words. The newest in Avokiddo’s line up is Thinkrolls, an over the top problem-solving game where kids learn the properties of force, acceleration, buoyancy, heat, elasticity, and gravity in order to get their Thinkrolls past obstacles and through a series of mazes. Read all about these amazing apps here@Teachers With Apps, we have reviewed them all!
The Good folks at Ocean House Media specialize in bringing books to life. One of their newest, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, is a classic book that can be read not only for night time but anytime that kids need a calming settling influence. From the Smithsonian series on Dinosaurs to the Cat in the Hat Books, there is something for every preschooler on your list. Many of the books have smart features like highlighted text and the ability to record your voice reading. Read all about these incredible i-books here@Teachers With Apps, we have to review MANY of them!
Labo Lado Inc. makes an incredible array of creativity apps for preschoolers. Every one of them is loads of fun, and when playing Labo Train - A creative draw & play road construction game for kids 3-7, I can’t remember when I laughed so much. Don’t let the fun fool you, these are serious prewriting and problem solving games. They teach kids to think as well as have fun. What I love most about Labo Lado Inc. apps is that drawing is not so structured that learning how to grade and control your writing implement is lost. Kids get plenty of feedback to refine control. Check out their newest app, Labo Pebble Art – Make crafts with stones and play games with your artwork. Read more about these FABULOUS apps here@Teachers With Apps, we have reviewed these also!
Duckie Deck Development has a suite of apps that address activities, interactive playtime with families and helping kids adapt to daily hygiene needs in Hygiene Essentials. Duckie Deck BirdHouses is an app that has strong environmental ties as well as activities to promote off screen creative play. Darling and delightful Duckie Deck - read more here@Teachers With Apps we have reviewed a slew of these fine apps!
RosMedia’s 123KidsFun series offers an array of creative and educational apps. A few of the creative apps center around holiday themes, and preschoolers love them. One of my favorite apps is 123 Kids Fun Education to teach the ability to process verbal directions, retain them and follow through with that direction. There is a lot of love put into these apps and it shows. Read more about these Darling apps here@Teachers With Apps, we have reviewed many!
Appp media makes some of the finest pre-math and spatial learning apps there are on the planet. My first App – Vol. 3 Airport combines puzzles that promote directionality, integrate left and right sides of the body, and improve spatial orientation and completion. This app can also be used as a social story in getting kids ready for a trip in an airplane.
Mr. Potatohead by Originator Inc. is an app; I have on my forever list. It is my go to app for teaching body awareness and for helping kids with motor planning issues. By learning the sequence of playing with a toy before having to handle all the parts, helps decrease anxiety and builds confidence. When you then transfer to off screen play, kids know what to do and expect. And sometimes it is just funny to put his nose on the side. How did we miss reviewing this classic app rendition of one of the best toys ever?
Busy Shapes by Seven Academy is based on Piaget’s levels of cognition. It is visually stunning and it is a wonder to watch children learn how to use tools and problem solve through a series of puzzles. It has taught me so much about how a child thinks and their style of learning. Parents who want to sharpen their 2 to 5-year-old child’s reasoning skills and awaken their intelligence in an amazing exploratory and evolving digital playground, are going to want this app!Read more about this and other brilliant apps by Seven Academy here@Teachers With Apps, we have reviewed several and they are all WINNERS!
Thinking Time Pro – Cognitive Skills for Early Learning by Kiko Labs is an extraordinary app for assessing and working on a child’s executive functioning skills. It contains smart technology that adapts to a child’s responses to keep “just the right challenge” when playing. Some of the skills that Thinking Time Pro– Cognitive Skills for Early Learning looks at our working memory, inhibition (impulse control) reasoning, and flexibility. It is one of my top picks this year. If Jo recommends this app developer, we know we need to go check them out! Oh, one more on the review list!
Lazoo World Wide Inc has a fun pre-writing app with LaZoo:Squiggles! Preschoolers need to learn how to grasp a writing tool, make appropriate strokes, and have the intrinsic hand strength, sitting balance and endurance before learning how to shape letters. With its animated features based on a kid’s input LaZoo:Squiggles! get a ton of giggles! Want more? Two of these lovely & laughable apps are reviewed here@Teachers With Apps.
Pre-K Tot Yoga HD by Holt Smith Ltd. is a lovely app for teaching kids to get up and move in a kind, gentle, and joyful way. Using animations of animals, kids learn about positioning. That translates to body awareness and motor planning by imitating the poses and receiving input through their joints and muscles. So great for learning about your body and how it moves. Why not have a classroom break and Vogue? Teachers With Apps will have to grab their matts and some kids and get into the program. Great idea for any child, may be especially helpful to the special needs population!
StoryToys Entertainment Limited, have two big hits this year with My Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends – Play and Explore. Both of These apps capitalize on Eric Carle’s beloved books. There are so many opportunities to expand on themes of growing and learning about how we conduct ourselves and the order of the world around us. Read and play these exciting tales here@Teachers With Apps, we have reviewed both!
Sago Sago’s – Sago Mini Sound Box, is one of my all-time favorite apps. Kid’s delight in the variety of sound variations, and each tap of the finger creates a melody, and if that finger is held down….out pops one of the Sago characters! Check out all of Sago Sago’s apps these are about the wonder and delight of discovery for beginning iPad users. They teach visual attention and tracking. Read more about the spectacular Sago-Sago suite here@Teachers with Apps.
When Jump App comes out with something new, I do JUMP and pay attention. From puzzles to creative endeavors, Jump App has it all, and does an excellent job in enticing preschoolers to participate, they offer an excellent opportunity for kids and parents to play together. All their apps are worth checking out. My favorites are Puppet Workshop – Creativity App for Kids and Sticker Play: Knights, Dragons and Castles – Premium. Yikes! Two more on our list to review!
Little Lamb in Amsterdam by Joshua Wilson at the Happy Dandelion is only one title in a lineup of out of this world stellar books. From their A to Sea alphabet book to the Unstealer, each book is unique and always tells a story with a moral or learning that our world is so much bigger than we ever thought. Illustrations are beautifully rendered and each book creates a memory and connection to others when reading. You can read the full review of Precious Little Lamb in Amsterdam here@Teachers With Apps.
These are just a few of the essential apps that I have on my iPad. Tell us about yours, and what you’ve uncovered!
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.