I'm a proud father of two young kids (boy and girl) and this page shares my experience with other parents. We time-box these these apps in a rotation of board games, activities and occasionally tv.
Our main criteria for the apps,
- Active engagement
- Foster creativity
- Pass the litmus test of them not being cranky when we move to the next activity
Apps where we see them using together get a double thumbs up .
Some quick tips for parents. I encourage you to,
- Setup Family Sharing on your Apple Accounts if you have more than one kid.
- Register an email account early (all the good names are being taken). This way the kids can save their accounts.
- If you're an IT person, I also register domain names.
We introduced limited ipad use around age 3 and generally found these apps keep the kids attention up to 6 or 7.
We started our kids with the MeeGenius App. It's a story book reader which highlights words as they are read. Upon subscription, you get a fairly comprehensive library of kid friendly content. The interface is simple enough for kids to browser through themselves and explore.
We like it, specifically because there is no animation but keeps our kids attention while encouraging reading and imagination.
You can start with the free books and upgrade to a subscription service if you like it. It supports offline downloads for trips with no internet.
Almost anything from the Sago Mini line of apps is a hit with the kids and parents, but my favourite for young kids has to be Doodlecast. The app starts by posing kids a question with a simple canvas. For example, what is your favourite food with an outline of a plate. Kids can then use their fingers or iPad Pen to draw in while talking into the ipad. It's also fun for parents to participate.
But what we love about this app, is the playback. You get to capture a special moment in time and it captures the subtle tactile sound effects when your kids were sketching. I'll post one of my kids sketches...
Dr. Panda is another great line of apps. What our kids enjoy the most is Dr. Panda's Restaurant 2. The kids interactively cook (cutting, frying, pouring) to assemble a dish for their guests to eat. The guests react to the food, provide a tip and then the kids clean up the dishes do a new order.
Endless Alphabet app was the second app our kids started with. It's prompts understanding of basic reading making sounds with letters into words in a fun way.
Instead of buying individual apps from the Sago series, you can subscribe for $4.99/month to the Sago mini World app. It's great value and every game is interactive, cute and fun for the kids.
The age range I'm setting here is for kids 6 to 10. Kids should be able to start basic reading to pick up on these apps.
My son's favourite game is Mine Craft. It was an accidental install actually and I have no idea how to play it. At 6 years old the grandparents installed it, and he learned to play on his own. One day he showed me all the things he built and I'd say the hype is well deserved. Very open ended and encourages lots of thinking and imagination.