Back-To-School Apps for Young Girls
These apps are sure to tickle your youngest girls fancy!
Fancy Nancy Dress Up
Does your daughter like to dress up? Fancy Nancy Dress Up is the app for her! Fancy Nancy is a beloved character in children’s books for young girls. The app Fancy Nancy Dress Up is a well designed app in which your child is creating Nancy’s “look” on each page of the story. Your child can dress Nancy in a number of lovely outfits for each page in the story. Open Fancy Nancy’s dresser and choose from a variety of options from skirts to outerwear to jewelry, your daughter can completely dress Nancy from head to toe. Add a background or use a picture that you have taken for a personalized background. If your daughter needs inspiration choose the random button to see what appears. When your child is finished, enjoy reading the personalized story together. If you haven’t enjoyed a Fancy Nancy story with your daughter be sure to check out a few of her great books at your local library.
Solve it! with Jim Henson’s Doozer’s
If you aren’t familiar with the Doozer’s, they are a creation by Jim Henson in which three-inch characters live just beyond the world. They live in a self contained community that is focused on technology, cooperation, teamwork, inventing and eco-consciousness. This app involves the use of cooperation, technology and eco-consiousness. In this app, simple problems are presented to your child. Kids must attempt to solve the problems in the physics based challenges. Some challenges include adding pieces to the puzzle to allow the ball to complete a maze. There are 50 levels with increasing challenge and once three stars are earned on each level, a sticker is awarded for the sticker book. This app develops problem-solving skills as well as beginning engineering skills in a fun and friendly environment. KinderTown thinks this is a perfect engineering game for Pre-Schoolers! The app is $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-7.
Dora Hops Into Phonics
Dora needs help hopping across the Lilly pads in order to get to the other side of the river. The app invites children to respond to questions like “Which picture goes with this word? Which letter will change Cat into Bat?”Children are invited to manipulate the beginning, middle or ending sounds in the word to make a new word. The ability to manipulate these sounds is an important skills to become a proficient reader. Parents please note that your child should be a beginning reader to be successful with this app. Many three syllable words are presented that children must read aloud. The app does include a nice tracking system in which parents can view their child’s progress and which type of words their child is working with. Also, multiple players can be added to this app easily so several children in one household can easily use the app. The app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and is $2.99.
Back-to-School Apps for Young Boys
Daniel Tiger’s Grrific Feelings provides an environment in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity around such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5 and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.
Join Elmo and Grover for the book Another Monster at the End of this Book story. The animations in the story app are captivating and invite children to get involved in the story. Children can easily tap to turn the page and giggle with Elmo and Grover as they try new ways to block the reader from turning the page. Of course, every child wants to turn the page anyway to see what silly tricks Elmo and Grover will try next. The book does include interactivity with objects on each page to interact and play with, perfect for young children. The app is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5. This book is one that is sure to be enjoyed again and again.
The app is colorful, includes lots of interactivity for early learners and presents questions in a mixed format, keeping the interest level high for children. KinderTown likes how each activity involves the children in pouring tea, cleaning the windows on the bus, moving socks, or making clouds disappear. The mixed review includes early childhood concepts and vocabulary important for child development. This app includes learning games about counting, quantity words such as smallest and biggest, number concepts, and size. Other fun activities are sprinkled throughout the review such as creating a snowman, or clearing a mud path for Mr. Mole. The app is free, but to unlock all the of the content you can complete an in-app purchase for $2.99. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-4.
This app is collection of books by the author Byron Barton. It includes four books about transportation; Planes, Boats, Trains, Trucks. On each page an interactive component is presented such as playing with a boat or airplane in the scene. KinderTown likes these books because they offer age-appropriate non-fiction text. Children are learning facts about transportation while enjoying the interactivity the app provides. The words are highlighted as the author reads and children can click on the word to hear it read aloud. Another great feature is that you can record your voice reading each page, so parents can narrate the story for their child or your child can read the text and record their own voice. This is an app that can grow with your child as they learn to read. The collection is $4.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.
Famous Children’s Authors Apps
KinderTown can’t think of a better way to prepare for school than to dive back into reading books. Books are always a favorite experience at my house. My children love to sit on my lap and enjoy a story – I’m sure your children to do too! Take a beach towel outside and find a shade tree; you and your children are sure to enjoy the last moments of summer together. Check out these literature apps, to get your children back into reading before school starts.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, is a personal favorite of mine. The app is based on the famous book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” By Mo Willems. The app is cleverly titled “Don’t let the Pigeon Run this App”, which plays on Mo Willems famous books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late and many more. Check them out at your local library. In this app,appropriate for children ages 3-6, your child brings a new Pigeon story to life when the bus driver asks for ideas. The app is narrated by the author Mo Willems, as himself and the Pigeon. When opened, the app awakens with the happy cheering voices of children. Choose Create Your Own Story to begin. This app offers three different options for creating your own pigeon story depending on your child’s level; egg, chick or big pigeon. The egg level creates a new pigeon story for your child to listen to and invites them to read along. We recommend leaving the reading tab open so your child can see the words as the story is told. The chick level gives your child picture choices in order to customize the story. In the Big Pigeon level, your child then uses their own voice to add their ideas…a definite parent favorite. Once you make choices for the story you must shake the pigeon in order for the story to be created. Finally, listen to your story and laugh with your child and enjoy literature, storytelling and the experience of loving a book character. The app saves all your child’s creations under Favorite Stories and includes an area where your child can learn to draw the pigeon himself. This is an app to be enjoyed alongside your child and is sure to be loved by children of all ages. Pair this app with Mo Williams’ books from your local library for a rich learning experience. The app is $5.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends Play and Explore
This app is based on Eric Carle’s famous book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The app opens with Eric Carle’s famous artwork and a book to open. Inside the book, the narrator explains non-fiction concepts about caterpillars, butterflies and other informational topics that coordinate with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. After listening to brief age appropriate explanations about nature, children are given a goal. For example, one goal is to win a Healthy Eater Badge and try to avoid all the sweet treats. After each activity, another brief informational text is read with a new goal given. From the main home page, children can also choose to complete puzzles, spot the differences or create a sticker scene with Eric Carle’s artwork. Parents please be aware that the app does include additional in-app purchases to unlock all the content in the Spot the Difference, Jigsaw and 3D Sticker book areas. The app is $3.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5. This app would best be paired with an author study on Eric Carle. An author study is simply a detailed look at an author and noticing their style and craft of writing. Your local library would be a great place to discover all of Eric Carle’s books.
Literacy, Length and Letter Apps
Curious Ruler is a uniquely designed app to encourage exploration with objects and measurement. This app would be best used with a child the first few times to aid in understanding how to use the app and how to understand the information the app is providing to your child. When you open the app, a menu of basic household objects is presented. Your child is to choose an appropriate reference object that will serve as the comparison object to whichever other items you would like to measure. For example, I chose a baseball. Next snap a picture of the baseball and whichever other object you would like to measure such as a cup. This works best if you line the reference object and the object to be measure up on a tabletop. Then, slide the rulers provided to align with the objects in the picture. Now, tap the “Compare” button. The app then tells me that the large cup was 3.5 times longer than the baseball and provides you with a visual of 3.5 baseballs. This app is a good aide in the exploration of measurement and would compliment a conversation or study on measurement. Curious Ruler is $.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Lola’s ABC Party is an app to practice letter sounds, letter formation, memory skills and beginning word recognition. The app starts with the short vowel sounds which are foundational to learning to read. Lola, a friendly panda, asks “Can you find all the letters that sound like “A?” Your child must select the letters from the screen that make that sound. This activity is developing phonemic awareness skills that are critical to the success of beginning readers. When your child answers the question correctly a paw is earned at the bottom of the screen. After ten paws are earned, your child can play with Lola and fill balloons, or decorate hats in order to prepare for a party. Parents can subscribe to receive a parent progress report to their email address.This app is well constructed for the child learning their letter sounds or reviewing them in order to prepare to learn to read. Lola’s ABC Party is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and is $4.99
Stories Alive is a digital library of children’s books contained in one app. Stories Alive provides well crafted digital books for enjoying with your child, on the go or at home. Each story has beautiful graphics and provides interactivity for your child to enjoy. There is a dictionary included in the app as well to reference as needed. In addition, your child can read and record their own voice as part of the story. The app is free to download and many story samples are available to preview. A subscription fee of .99 per week is available as an in-app purchase for access to the Stories Alive collection of books. Stories Alive is appropriate for children ages 3-8.
It’s all About Numbers!
Numbers Here, Numbers Everywhere….10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Numbers are viewed by children everywhere in our environment. Check out the best number apps!
Drive About: Number Neighborhood
Drive About Numbers incorporates many different types of games that practice number concepts. When the app opens a child friendly map is shown and includes 9 different mini-games that practice different math concepts such as shapes, writing numbers, counting groups of objects, matching and collecting numbers in order. Our child tester favorite was using the slingshot to put the correct number of balls into the monster’s mouth. The app is $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6. This app would be a perfect fit for a child entering pre-kindergarten or kindergarten this school year. Throughout the year as the math concepts are presented in school, your child could return again and again to the app to practice them.
Todo Math is a free app designed to practice early childhood math skills. Todo in spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. It includes 18 multi-level games. It has two different types of play; free choice and mission. In mission mode, the app gives a brief overview of each game and guides your child through each game one at a time. In free choice mode, all games are presented and your child chooses which one they would like to play. It includes multiple levels of math games and includes adaptive play, which means the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Parents, you can sign up for a parent account which will provide you with a more detailed look at how your child is progressing through the app. Compared to most apps, Todo Math does contain a worthwhile amount of free content practicing many different areas of math for children ages 3-6.
Counting Caterpillar is appropriate for children ages 3-6. The app has three levels: easy, medium and hard. In easy mode, the child counts by ones to add segments to the caterpillar. In medium mode, the child practices in the same way by counting by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s. In hard mode, children are presented with a random number to begin counting from. In the app, your child must feed the aphids to the hungry caterpillar. After the correct number is fed to the caterpillar it is added as a segment to the caterpillar.The app rewards children with a butterfly after an exercise is completed correctly. This is a simple app designed to practice basic number concepts.
Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer
Busy Shapes encourages children to use their logic and problem solving skills to maneuver shapes and objects into the correct holes in order to advance to the next screen. Busy Shapes is an app inspired by the work of Jean Piaget who proposed that children construct their own knowledge through play, in this case digital play. Busy shapes has 38 levels of play and continues to advance and challenge children as it adapts to their level of learning. It includes an area to set up multiple logins per household. The app does not teach the names of the shapes but encourages free play and cognitive development through experimenting with the shapes. Busy Shapes is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-6. The app is colorfully made and includes basic tools along the way to help children explore the effects of the tools on the shapes. As the levels become more difficult, multiple tools are presented. The app is very intuitive for children who are familiar with the iPad. They start dragging the shapes and they are off to solve the problems presented. Parents, you may need to assist when your child reaches a challenging area they can not solve on their own, but generally this app is one your child will be able to navigate independently.
Care Bears Love to Learn grabbed my attention, because I can distinctively remember my purple Care Bear that I loved! The Care Bears are back because, we grew up with them and they remind of us of our own childhood. I like this app a lot because it is simple, yet presents easy to understand questions in a randomized fashion which kept the attention of our youngest child testers. The app works on a mix of basic Preschool skills such as colors, shapes, letters, memory skills and counting. The app also rewards children with digital stickers when they answer the questions correctly. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 2-4.
Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy. The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and dances, and needs help finding the bugs in her hair. This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app is $1.99.
This app by OceanHouse Media is a digital book sure to be loved by your kids. I know many boys who love to pretend to be pirates, and I often observe large playground toys, or backyard tree-houses imagined into pirate ships. The How I became a Pirate book was a New York Times bestseller and is sure to be a favorite digital book as well. It has two options for reading: Read to Me, and Read by Myself. The book has several different interactive options. When reading, your child can have the words read again by tapping them or tap the wrapping on one of the pirates heads and hear the word bandanna. This story is perfect for summer because the story begins with a boy using his imagination at the beach spying a pirate ship in the ocean. The pirates come upon the shore and interact with the boy. The boy in the story board the pirate ship and has an adventure. I really like the recording feature on each page. Beginning readers can read and record their voice. Save the recording and your child can listen to themselves read the story. This is a great learning activity for children ages 6-8. It develops fluency and expression while reading and will become a parent favorite as well. The app is $3.99 and appropriate to read with children ages 3-8.
Best Building Apps for Kids
Building with blocks has long been a favorite activity for kids and parents alike. Building promotes creativity, imagination and spatial awareness. Check out these best building apps for kids.
Toca Builders is a virtual 3D playground where kids can use characters to build and create their own unique world. Each character has a different way of creating in the virtual world. For example, Jum-Jum loves to spray paint, a favorite by our child testers, and Connie is able to lift and move blocks. Your child can create several different play-based worlds within the app to add to or adapt later. There are not any words or dialog in the app, so sit with your child and discuss the characters and their abilities or perhaps create a story about the characters as your child manipulates their world. Toca builders feels like Mine-craft, but appropriate for children ages 4-8. Children are demonstrating their creativity skills as well as developing their understanding of 3D environments. Be sure to check out their “For Parents” section within the app for more ideas. Toca Builders is $2.99. The possibilities are as endless as your child’s imagination in the Toca Builders world.
Bloxy apps allow your child to build with blocks in order to create objects that they can play with in the virtual world. For example, build an airplane and construct an airport for your airplane to land at and take off again. In addition, children can build freely with the blocks. When a creation is complete, children can also upload their creations to Bloxy World or download other creations to play with or be inspired by, in order to create their own. Parent permission is requested each time one of these actions is performed. There are over 330 bricks included in Bloxy World. Children can also use their theme collections for space, castles, trees, cars and a special girls world. Other features include the ability to add speech bubbles to the mini-figures, and a snapshot feature to take pictures of the creations. Bloxy World is free to download but does have in-app purchases for selected blocks. KinderTown recommends the “Buy all Bricks” feature for $8.99. Bloxy World is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
For the youngest builder, KinderTown loves BeBop Blox. In BeBop Blox, children are presented with 12 different puzzles to build. Once the puzzle is chosen, the parts spin around the screen and kids drag the matching pieces. For each matching piece, a musical phrase is played. Each added piece adds an additional musical sound to create a song that accompanies the puzzle. When the puzzle is completed a song is played and there are four additional sound effects that can be added to the song. BeBop Blox is a creative first environment for the youngest builder. BeBop Blox is suitable for children ages three through five and is $1.99.
Best Coding Apps for Young Children
Coding. It’s the latest, most popular, and slightly geeky topic to be teaching your children right now. A recent New York Times article called Reading, Writing, Arithmetic …and Lately Coding, talks about the trend and it’s significance. I like this trend and feel that teaching coding is teaching problem solving, strategic thinking, visual/spacial concepts and math. It’s all of these skills wrapped up into one area, and usually weaved with game-like qualities that make it fun for kids to learn. That’s why coding is a great addition to your summer learning. Check out these top coding apps for young children.
Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. The Kodable website uses the tag line “Learn to code before you know how to read.” This is an interesting thought in our digital age. When children use the app they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the “fuzz” balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles.The children we tested this app on loved the option to change the puff ball’s color as they earn additional colors when they successfully complete the puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5 and up and is free but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases into one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.
Children can program Daisy the Dinosaur and learn some basic rules of programming in the process. Daisy the Dinosaur has two sections for your child to explore, free-play mode and challenge mode. In the free-play section, children can experiment with commands and see how Daisy moves as a result of their program. In challenge mode, children are presented with a problem to solve. They must use the commands given to complete the challenge. Use the easy drag and drop icons to make Daisy move. Daisy the Dinosaur lays the very basic foundation for learning programming in the future. The amount of content in the app is not expansive, but a good amount for a free app. This app would serve as a great introduction to programming or to test your child’s interest in the topic. Daisy the Dinosaur is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and is free.
Move the Turtle is reminiscent of the turtle that I used to program on the Apple II e. Move the Turtle is a much more updated version of the basic programming I learned as a child. It offers three areas to explore; Play, Compose and Projects. In the Play area there are nine different chapters with directions to instruct your child on how to program the turtle to accomplish a basic goal such as moving to a diamond or drawing a line with a pen. Children earn diamonds, trophies and stars along the way. In the Compose area your child can apply what they have learned in the Play area in order to create their own project or experiment with commands. In the Projects section, your child can explore what other children have created. Move the Turtle also offers the option to create multiple accounts for children in your house or in a school setting. Move the Turtle is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.
3 Top Book Creation Apps
Summer is in full swing and for my family that means day trips, upcoming vacations, walks to the park, and pool. Parents, I am sure you are also snapping photos as you create memories with your children. Why not create a memory book with your child of your summer experiences? You could create a photo book, art book, a book to use as a gift, a journal or a creative story based on your summer fun. Use these apps to easily have your child create something special. Shh! They’ll be learning about reading and writing in the process too.
A simply designed app, Book Creator can take your ideas and make them into a well designed book. When Book Creator opens, a simple visual tutorial walks you through how to create a simple book. In Book Creator, you can add photos, create drawings, or record your own voice. In addition, adding text is simple. Book Creator offers 3 different book layout options, landscape, square or portrait and includes 50 different fonts. Book Creator is free and is appropriate for children ages 5-8. Ideally this is an app you would use alongside your child to encourage creativity, writing and sharing their work with others. When you are finished you can email the book, print the book, export it as a pdf, or upload it to iBooks. These options are great for sharing with friends and family.
Scribble Press is an app designed to create one page drawings, and books. Like other book creation apps, you can easily add your own photos, your child’s picture, a title and text to create a book. Your child is sure to love the rainbow pen, stamps and stickers included in Scribble Press. The color tools are especially nice in Scribble Press so your child can easily create an artistic picture. If your child needs inspiration there are over fifty story templates. Scribble Press is $3.99, and if you would like to have your child’s book published and mailed to you, there is a fee for that service. Scribble Press is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
My Story is a creative book maker where your child can use stickers, markers, photos and voice recordings to create their own book. This app also allows for the creation of multiple users so more than one child in a household or classroom can have their own account within the app. This feature is great for classrooms or learning centers. My Story also allows for sharing if enabled by email, on social networks or in iBooks. Parents be sure to help your child with this part if you are interested in sharing. My Story is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Multi-Player Educational Apps
App developers are discovering the possibilities of social educational games for kids.There are not a lot of multi-player education apps out there, but there are a few worth noting. Have fun with your children this summer by playing one of these multi-player educational games.
If you don’t have this free app for your kids, you must download it and play MatchBlitz with them this summer! I was instantly drawn to the easy interface and competition that this app offers. The object of the game is to tap the object that appears in all of the sectioned areas of the game board. For example, in 2-player mode, tap the object that appears on each half of the screen. Be the first to tap the object and earn points. Be careful because an incorrectly tapped object will cause you to loose points. There are options for 3 and 4 players as well within the app. This app develops visual perception, memory and concentration skills in children as well as social skills while playing with others. MatchBlitz offers a practice area where children can get a feel for how the game works. MatchBlitz was created by the developer, Shiny Things, and incorporates the characters and objects from their other apps into MatchBlitz. Even though this app is free, it does not include any ads, a win win for parents and children. This app is appropriate for kids ages 4-8, and lots of fun for adults too!
Futaba – Classroom Games for Kids
Futaba Classroom Games for Kids allows up to 4 kids to sit around the iPad answering questions to win points. This app is useful for reviewing vocabulary and facts already in the app with settings to create and add your own content. There is even a single player mode perfect for independent play or homework time. With the amount of customization options in this app it is really an exciting app for teachers and parents. This app would be great for your child to review content already learned this school year over the summer. The app is $6.99 and offers content in multiple subject areas. There is a free version you can try called Word Games for Kids, but know there are ads in the app. This app is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Operation Math Code Squad
Operation Math Code Squad gets up to 4 kids together to take math operation challenges. Playing off the same theme as the well-loved “Operation Math” app from Spinlight Studios, the team of kids playing are challenged to answer math problems in order to complete missions. The app does rank players, but is thoughtfully designed to get kids supporting each other instead of pinning them against each other. If you want to keep playing, all players need to answer questions correctly. Game play includes all operations and is easy to customize for the unique level of multiple players. The app is easy to use and fun for group play. One struggle we had was figuring out the numbers 9 and 6 which you often have to read upside down and were hard to distinguish quickly because they were spinning in the middle of the screen. This would be a great multi-player app to use to practice math facts over the summer and is $2.99 and available for iPad.