As adults, we all know how incredibly convenient an iPad can be. Easier to take from place to place than a laptop but bigger than a smartphone, it allows us to take our work, hobbies, email, and books wherever we go. As parents, we quickly learn they can be an amazing tool for our children too. Not as an electronic babysitter but as an educational and creative tool that can also stave of boredom on long car rides or while waiting in a doctor’s office. While children, especially very young children, can find it hard to sit still for long periods of time and aren’t the most patient at waiting, the amount of focus they can achieve while doing something they want to do can be astonishing.
The most important thing about letting a child use an iPad is to have apps that are age appropriate. Give a three year old something too advanced and they will quickly become frustrated and give up. Give a 10 year old something too simple and they will get bored and give up. But choosing apps that are the right blend of age appropriate, creative, and educational can be a daunting task given the number of available options. To help save some of your own frustration and giving up, below are some options for each age group.
Ages 2 – 5
Rocket Builder: The goal of this game is to help the professor construct a rocket to reach the stars. Children choose from various rocket parts in the rocket workshop to construct their machine. Using the iPad’s camera, they can take their picture (and pictures of family members) to “board” their rocket. After construction, they take a test flight. After each test flight, a new rocket part is unlocked.
Grandma’s Preschool: This game is set up as an interactive classroom over several screens that contain 12 mini games. This app covers everything from letters and numbers to shapes and colors to drawing. Children will discover more games and features and they locate additional classrooms within the school. There are even educational videos!
Ages 6 – 8
Crazy Gears: In this mechanical learning game, children become familiar with the workings of cogwheels and solve puzzle games. Children will need to build, using drives and gears, and wind up a type of drawer to move on to the next level. There are no instructions and children will learn what each component does as they go. The levels start of simply and increase in difficulty.
Thinkrolls 2: This game combines both fun and logical thought. Children need to roll a character to the opening of the next level. The characters can only roll sideways so there are various tools available for children to select from to get them to roll in different directions. Finding the right tool will require logic and trial and error.
LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles: Combining to loves of many children (and many parents), LEGOs and Star Wars, this game sends children on missions to get to the next level. Each mission can be played as Darth Vadar or Yoda and it is played differently depending on the character. Children navigate through the mission with the assistance of a light saber or blaster.
Weigh The World: This app has several games in one. The first places an object on one side of a scale and children must add weights to the other until the scale balance. The second tasks children with estimating the weight of several different objects combined. In the third, children must correctly guess the weight of a certain object and in the fourth, they sort objects from lightest to heaviest.
All of these games offer the benefit of developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills along with age appropriate learning. Great for any long wait, long ride, or rainy day, I know your children will have a great time!