Screen time limits are out the window for most pandemic families.
Most of the good apps require purchasing to get rid of the ads. Ads are pretty frustrating all around, so I consider these worthwhile purchases, though I prefer one-time purchases rather than subscriptions.
I prefer the iPad Mini over the Kindle Fire tablets. They’re more responsive and there are tons more high quality apps available. You can also use Guided Access to limit the kid’s ability to touch certain parts of the screen or use certain buttons, which is very helpful when you want to keep them in one app or stop them pressing home all the time, which is conveniently right under their little thumb.
This list isn’t complete, but I’m publishing it anyway!
Littlest kids (1-2):
Most apps aren’t really built for young toddlers. Apps need to not have control buttons right where they try to grip the screen, and they need to not require touching a ‘next’ arrow to advance to the next screen.
GiggleUp Toddler Counting 123 — big pictures to touch, counts out loud, advances on its own. Bought this to get rid of the ads.
TocaBoca – Toca Kitchen 2 — funny app where you feed the monsters food with or without chopping/cooking/blending/frying/etc. For my speech-delayed kid, this is a great opportunity to name foods, reactions, etc.
Slightly more advanced: Endless Wordplay, Endless Reader
Khan Academy Kids (free)
Originator Inc – Math Tango — we like the math in Math Tango, though my kid figured out how to guess through the puzzles, and then got hung up on the ‘game’ part of it. It would take him 20 minutes to “find Cecilia, put her on the hot air balloon.”
Math Seeds — “I love Math Seeds!” -5yo
Reading Eggs $$ — requires logging in? trying to remember why we had a tough time with this one
Zearn — 5yo’s school uses this one and lots of kids like it, but not mine
PBS Kids apps, especially Odd Squad
Teach Your Monster to Read
Homer — ?requires network