Does your toddler love your iPad as much as you do? Liz’s daughter Eva certainly does! Here she shares some of her favourite toddler friendly apps…
Having first played on a friend’s iPad in May 2010 I decided I had to have one! I saved up for a year and bought my own in July 2011. I was excited about the possibilities of entertaining my 20 month old daughter, Eva, on journeys and in waiting rooms, and started looking about for apps for under 2s which were simple and fun that she could interact with.
To begin with I had thought if I got a 3G enabled iPad I could stream cbeebies for her or look at videos on YouTube but friends assured me that 3G was generally not good enough to allow streaming, especially with patchy coverage on trains. So I went for a Wifi-only iPad and downloaded some games for Eva to play with.
We have done some proper road tests with long train journeys to and from the south of France via Paris and the Eurostar, and 4 hour train journeys to and from Suffolk, one of which included a rail replacement bus (horror of horrors). Eva was 19 or 20 months at each of these journeys. Below I describe my top 8 apps and then describe a couple that I downloaded but deleted because we didn’t get on with them.
1) In the Night Garden (£0.69). This cbeebies program is much beloved by many of our little ones. After I’d shown Eva Iggle Piggle several times on YouTube and iPlayer at home on my iPad, she started asking for “Piggle” every time she saw the damn thing. So I downloaded the ItNG app, which is very good. You can watch and listen to each character do their dance, then you can play hide and seek games and help Makka Pakka wash everyone’s face. Plenty to keep a one and a half year old entertained. Highly recommended.
2) Baby Touch Peekaboo (£1.99). This is a Ladybird app, which is excellent for little ones (1 to 2 year olds). It has 4 choices, Farm, Sea, Animals and Vehicles. Once you’ve chosen one, you get a series of very simple block colour images which move on the screen and wait for little fingers to press the screen before going onto the next one. For example, a barn appears, and a voice says “who’s there?” When you touch the screen, the doors open revealing a chicken and the voice says “peekaboo chicken!” After another touch on the screen, the chicken lays an egg. The words are also written on the screen so you can have the sound off and read it to your child. It’s such a simple and pleasant format that little ones are sure to grasp it.
3) Old Macdonald had a farm (£0.69). Old Macdonald is one of Eva’s favourite songs and I was delighted to find a decent app that plays the song and is interactive. The animal pictures are very cartoonish, and Old Macdonald says a very American “howdy!” when you press on him for some reason, but the song is sung with an English accent and you can touch each animal to hear their noise. This is definitely one of Eva’s favourites.
4) Pocket Pond. (Free) A free app, which has Eva entranced, this is basically a virtual pond with fish swimming in it, and you can drop in extra fish, water lilies and dragonflies. The genius is that when you touch the screen, the water sploshes and the fish all swim away because you’ve disturbed them.
5) Baby Aquarium Colours. (£0.69) This is still a little beyond Eva’s grasp but she keeps asking for “fish” so I guess she likes it. In the deep blue sea, a fish comes to the front of the screen and swims around. When you touch it, it announces the fish’s colour and the colour word appears. A second touch, and a new fish appears in a different colour. The background graphics and the colourful fish keep Eva entertained for a while, she particularly likes the bubbles and the jellyfish.
6) Peekaboo Pets (£1.49). If your child loves looking at animals and hearing animal noises, this is a great app. Pop up boxes appear much like the standard pop-up toys with different buttons, out of which pop animals etc. You have to touch the button and up out of the box pops an animal which makes its relevant noise. If you touch the animal it squeaks/miaows/woofs/roars again, and you can close the lid to make it disappear (“bye bye” says Eva). Touch the sideways arrow and a new box with a new animal appears. Hours of fun.
And finally two apps I’m pleased with but Eva’s not quite old enough for:
7) My first yoga (£0.69). Eva has started being interested in the “yogo” part of Waybuloo so I thought it could be fun to try yoga poses together. Strength building is really important for her as she’s been late to walk due to hypermobility in her joints. “My first yoga” is actually an iPhone app but it works OK on iPad. It shows a picture of an animal and then describes how to do the animal pose. The American accent of the voice is a bit annoying but I think it will be fun to try these yoga poses together.
8) The Cat in the Hat (currently £1.49, usually £2.49). My favourite book when I was little, this app provides all the text and pictures from the original book, in an interactive format. You can read it to your child, or it will read itself aloud. There are other sound effects, and you can touch objects, and the name of the object is spoken aloud. Once Eva is older I hope to download more Dr Seuss classics.
Apps I downloaded and then deleted:
1) Talking Tom Cat – Too annoying for words, a cartoon cat which does a very limited range of things when you tap the screen. Eva liked the fact he repeats back what you say in a high pitched voice but I couldn’t hack it for longer than 5 minutes.
2) “Baby” – a free app with a couple of games, which is very limited unless you spend money on extra items to go in the games. About 2 minutes worth of interest without spending the extra money, and probably not much more even if you did buy accessories.
3) I hear Ewe – Oooh, I didn’t like this one. A big choice of animals and vehicles, all cartoon drawings which don’t even look much like the real thing. You tap on one and an irritating voice says “the noise a [mouse] makes is [squeak]” And that’s it. Delete Delete Delete.
4) Balloons: Tap and Learn – I thought Eva might like this as she’s totally into balloons but it’s too advanced for her, it requires you to pop all the balloons of one colour out of a possible 20 balloons. She might get into it when she’s older, but to be honest, it’s quite dull, so I’m not sure I want to encourage her.
5) Frogs vs Storks, Cut the Rope, Super Snake, and Racing Penguin – all games which looked really simple in the description but actually require more dexterity and faster reaction times (and simply a bit more brain) than a small toddler possesses.
Does your tech-savvy tot have a favourite app? Or do you have one to add to Liz’s delete list?! Share the details in the comments!