So my “push gift” for Baby #2, the iPad…? Has actually become Baby #1‘s primary source of entertainment in the car and stroller. I would be bitter that my two-year-old daughter, Skye, spends more time with “my” gift, but the fact that it occupies her and significantly diminishes whine time is, in fact, a gift in itself.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself. *Sigh*
We’ve gone through a number of app and video duds (tip: most of the free/”lite” ones are free for a reason… they kind of suck). That’s why I thought I’d share the apps that have been a hit with Skye so far — I know we’ve got a good one when she plays it ten-thousand times in a row — in hopes of helping others avoid wasting time and money on the less-than-titillating ones out there.
1. Sound Touch $2.99
My daughter was able to adeptly work this app before she even turned two. All your pint-sized techie needs to do is tap the screen, making it easy to navigate. Sound Touch does exactly what the title says: teaches sounds via touch. It comes with more than 360 pictures of animals, household items, vehicles, etc. that fill the screen with the accompanying sound when your child taps on the photo. Now two years old, Skye still loves playing with this game. Although I must warn you: If you are driving through a just-turned-red light and your kid happens to tap on the police car photo at the same time, causing the blare of a siren to fill your car…? A near-heart attack will ensue.
2. Toddler Counting $0.99
Great one for learning numbers. Again, this app limits any toddler frustration (I know, I know… a toddler getting frustrated? A rarity, indeed! *Ahem*) and boosts their confidence with the ease of use. Your child just needs to tap on the animals, fruits, what-have-you on the screen, and the iPad lady counts each tap and congratulates him on finishing each round. There are also two levels: easier and harder. My daughter loves this app, now counting along with iPad Lady and getting quite full of herself when iPad Lady crows, “Good job!” (Is there an app for helping get your toddler’s big head through the door?)
3. Elmo Loves ABCs $4.99
With the $4.99 price tag, this one could also be called “Elmo Loves Cash Money.” However, considering I used to spend $12 on a martini that would last 10 minutes (if I was drinking slowly), the $4.99 seems like a pretty worthwhile investment in my daughter’s education and my sanity. We just got this app, and Skye keeps asking for “Mo’Elmo?” The app — which, as you’ve likely guessed, teaches the alphabet (there is also a counting one) — offers both interaction with Elmo and more static entertainment, such as a video of Grover singing and dancing to a disco version of the ABCs. This song haunts me in my dreams at night because Skye will play it approximately twelve-billion-and-two times a day. But I cannot lie: it is kinda catchy.
A. BC. DE. FG. Let’s go…!
4. Olivia Acts Out $0.99
Although Olivia isn’t my daughter’s top app of choice, it still entertains her after a few months — which is saying a lot for our finicky two-year-old. If your child enjoys the TV show, s/he will probably enjoy this app, too. It’s pretty straightforward: a book with narration, interaction and an easy interface.
Great. Now I have the “Olivia” theme song stuck in my head, too. “O-liv-ee-a…! O-liv-ee-a…!”
5. Wheels on the Bus $0.99
With great artwork, music, sound effects and interactivity (which isn’t necessarily intuitive, but easily learned) this app definitely captured my daughter’s interest — especially because it built on her already vast knowledge of/obsession with the song. It also taught her father and me that the song has more than one verse. Yes! The wheels do more than go ’round and ’round! Huh. Who knew?