Summer is here. As of 12:50pm today it is official. It’s our last day of school!! I still can’t decide if I am super thrilled to have Big J home all the time and to cast our routine off every once in a while in favor of summertime fun. Or does the thought of three rambunctious, adventurous rough-and-tumble boys roaming my house for the next eight weeks completely terrify me? I’m still vacillating back and forth between the two… as I’m sure will happen all summer long.
Summer doesn’t have to mean the learning stops though! I have compiled a list of the best preschool learning apps that will keep your kiddos engaged and their brains a-churning. These are great for that extra screen time kids seem to get during the summer days. And, from experience, they help a road trip pass so much more quickly when they are engaging and entertaining the kiddos… instead of them watching yet another movie. While I’m not suggesting you park your kids in front of a tablet or phone all summer, when you do let them have a few minutes, these games will engage their brains, not turn them to mush.
I’ve included links to the Play Store, the App Store (where available) and the Amazon App Store. The Amazon links, and only the Amazon links, are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of them, I receive a very tiny percentage of that sale. Your cost is not affected. Thank you, should you choose to help support me in this manner. You’re awesome. If not, it’s okay. I still think you’re pretty cool.
1. AlphaTots Alphabet by Spinlight. This is a flashcard app that features the alphabet. It’s simple, it’s got great graphics, music (but not the kind that will make your brain melt), and it’s interactive. Both upper and lowercase letters are included. Each letter is introduced visually, audibly and then there is a little interactive activity to go along with it.
For us, this app is totally worth the money because all of my kids still like this app. However, it entertains each of them differently. Baby N (15 mos) likes the songs and to watch it like a TV show. He also likes to poke the letters, but he’s far from being coordinated enough to do the activities. Little J (3 yrs) likes to do the little activities and the music is a bonus for him. He seems to learn well through music. Big J (6 yrs in a month and a half) can zoom through this app pretty quickly now, as it’s more review than anything. I like that he hears the letter sounds and that strengthens his reading skills. He still enjoys the activities with each letter. $2.99.
2. TallyTots Counting by Spinlight. Very similar to the AlphaTots app, but with numbers. This is perfect for my Little J, who was recently taught to count to 10 by his older brother. He is my stubborn child and refuses to sit and do learning activities with me. It’s the polar opposite of Big J and I’ve had a really hard time figuring out how to teach him without him realizing that I’m doing just that. This app introduces counting and numbers and I can re-enforce the concepts later on, where he can show me how much he learned all by himself. It’s win-win for both of us. And a perfect distraction for Little J while I cook dinner. $2.99
3. Swapsies by Spinlight. This game is a fun way to introduce your preschooler to some of the different occupations out there. You can choose between a match game and a quiz. There are 10 professions in this version. When you correctly dress the characters in their uniforms you unlock a game that helps kiddos understand what that profession does. As the rancher, you round up the cattle and put them all in their pen. This app helped me explain to my kids that some jobs require a uniform, as well as exposing them to the fact that people are behind a lot of things they seem to think happens by magic. The mail doesn’t just magically end up in the mailbox every day… and when there isn’t mail in the box, that’s okay. Our mail carrier deserves a day off!
The price can be a little harder to get behind on this one at first. The entertainment value doesn’t last as long as it does with the letter and number apps, simply because there isn’t as much content. But my kids really enjoy it. Even Big J will still play for a little while. And it worked perfectly to introduce some of our community workers to my children. One thing I really like is that there are several (12, to be exact) languages you can play this app in. I am working with my kids on their Spanish with this game. It’s great because they already know what to do and can be totally immersed in the language without being frustrated and lost all the time. Because I have multiple kids and we are using the other languages, this app has been played enough I feel it was a good purchase for our app library. $2.99.
4. Preschool and Kindergarten by Kevin Bradford. This app is either one your kids will love or not. At least that seems to be my experience. The activities are simple and a great way to introduce new concepts. But there’s a lot of repetition as far as the kind of activities. Little J can play for a good 20 minutes or more, bouncing back and forth between the different games. Big J (just finished Kindergarten) lasts between 5-10 minutes, if I’m lucky. A big appeal for my kids is that, after you complete a number of the activities, you are rewarded with a sticker. This is a big deal and my kids love it. I like this app because it’s simple, it is easy for little hands that may not be incredibly coordinated yet, and there are a variety of subjects covered. The free version comes with 2 games, you can unlock another by leaving a review. I’ve purchased the remaining 6 games and they are worth the two dollars. $1.99 for Android, $2.99 Apple App Store.
5. Preschool and Kindergarten 2 by Kevin Bradford. This is just like the app above, but with slightly more advanced skills (phonics, patterns and skip counting to name a few). My kids like the alphabet train and it’s advanced enough that Big J can still play this as review. I really like the patterns and spelling, because it allows my kids to explore without me sitting there telling them “no, that’s not right”. The pattern game was a great way to introduce them to Big J when he was younger. He was able to start seeing patterns in everyday occurrences because the game had presented patterns with objects and shapes he was already familiar with. When I tried that with actual objects, he just wanted to mix them up or take them and run away. $1.99.
6. Color & Draw (Super Artist Edition) by Tipitap. This is one of the best coloring apps I have found on the market. The entertainment value in this app depends solely on your child. Big J is only now starting to like this app and I’ve had it for a few years. But he has never been one to sit down and draw with real crayons, let alone digital ones. However, my two-year old niece that adores drawing is absolutely smitten with this app. If you have a little artist, definitely a must have. $0.99 Android. I couldn’t find this exact app in the App Store, but there is a link on the app’s website to it (it wanted me to download iTunes to get to that page, which I didn’t want to do). Down at the bottom of the page, there’s the little black “Available in the App Store” button you can follow to find it there.
7. Toca Kitchen by Toca Boca. I have just recently… like, last week… started checking out the Toca Boca apps. I’d heard of them before, but the big seller then was Toca Hair Salon and I wasn’t super excited about an app that encouraged my kids to cut hair… Last week, though, I came across Toca Kitchen and it’s a ton of fun. I may or may not have played for about 15 minutes hiding in my bedroom. There are four characters (I think they are a little creepy, but my kids like them) that you can feed. You take a food item out of the fridge, choose how to prepare it and then serve it. You can even cut it up with the knife or blend it in the blender. I’m not sure if I just haven’t figured out how yet or if you can’t do it, but it would be really neat to be able to combine ingredients. Steak and mushrooms… YUM. Free on Google Play. $2.99 in the App Store and in the Amazon App Store (Kindle Edition).
8. Kid’s ABC Letters by Intellijoy. This alphabet app is a great way to introduce letters to your child. It focuses solely on the actual letters themselves, not the sounds they make. While trying to help Little J understand letters are individual shapes, the apps that had the phonetic element included were overwhelming for him. There is a lite version you can check out and see if you or your little ones like it. The full version includes three extra activities. Intellijoy has an all-in-one pack that includes access to all of Intellijoy’s apps. I purchased the lifetime subscription. I’ve used many of their apps with all three of my boys and I have plans to use more of them this summer with them. Definitely worth the cost for my family. $1.99 Android. Again, I couldn’t find the link to this app in the App Store, but you can get to it from the app’s website.
9. Kid’s Connect the Dots by Intellijoy. This app is pretty self-explanatory. You connect the dots and make a picture. Probably doesn’t sound super exciting… but this is such a great way to enforce numerical and alphabetical order. This is one of my favorite apps to let my kids play while I’m grocery shopping. It requires minimal interference and supervision (it only connects to the correct number or letter), but it’s a great re-enforcement activity. This app works well as a review for Big J too. Both of my boys have enjoyed this app and I expect to use it with Baby N too in a few years. $2.99 on Android. (Not available for iDevices – I’m sure there are similar apps in the App Store though).
10. Kid’s ABC Letter Trains by Intellijoy. This is a great alphabet app. One of my faves, my very favorite part of this app, though, is that the kiddos get to trace and make the letters. They drive the train and form each letter, both upper and lowercase. There are four other activities that promote letter recognition and formation. You can unlock other trains as you complete activities. This was a big hit with Little J and was how I finally got him to start tracing and making letters by himself. The trains are a huge hit with my boys and they love to play. Big J still plays some of the games too. If an app is entertaining enough to hold my kid’s attention after he already knows the skill, I’m a happy mom. $2.99 on Android. This app isn’t available for iDevices.
Do you have a favorite learning game your kids just love? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new apps!