I am constantly amazed at the range of educational and entertaining apps for pre-school children. Here is a list of my favourite apps for this age group. Prices quoted were correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change.
Intro to Math, by Montessorium – Montessorium, LLC. (Universal – £2.99). A very nicely made educational app which not only looks good but really appeals to children as well. The app contains 5 different mini games, all of which introduce letters and mathematical concepts – sorting, counting, tracing letters. I was pleasantly surprised how much the geekdaughter enjoys playing with this app. The app is available with a choice of US or UK narration. Also available is Intro to Letters, by Montessorium – Montessorium, LLC. (Universal – £2.99). Perhaps not as good as Intro to Math, this one is still worth a look.
Another great educational app is Maths, age 3-5 – EuroTalk (Universal, Free for first chapter, 9 additional chapters available via in-app purchase for £1.49 each, discounts if you buy more than one at a time) which I reviewed here. Since my review the prices of individual chapters have been reduced, and the cost for buying all 9 additional chapters has been decreased to £6.99, which is still expensive in my book, but it’s a good quality app which will keep your kids interested for a long time, so it’s probably worth it.
If your pre-schooler is learning phonics then the best phonics app I have found for the UK market is Ladybird: I’m Ready for Phonics – Penguin Books (Universal – £4.99). Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s very high quality, beautifully produced, and better than anything else in the app store. We also enjoy Mr Phonics: Letters and Sounds – Mr Thorne Productions (iPhone only – £2.99) and Mr Phonics: Letters and Sounds for iPad – Mr Thorne Productions (iPad only – £2.99). These are basically a comprehensive collection of videos introducing the phonics and blends that your child needs to know. These are all available for free on Mr Thorne’s YouTube channel, but I am very wary of letting my kids have unrestricted access to YouTube, and so this app allows me to be sure they are watching Mr Thorne and only Mr Thorne.
I cannot recommend highly enough anything by Toca Boca – this lovely Swedish developer has produced a lovely range of iOS apps which encourage creativity and role play. Here’s my summary of some of the apps available (this post related to a special promotional deal at the time, and the prices have all changed now, but they’re still not expensive, and provide hours of play time). I have also reviewed Toca Robot Lab and Toca Tea Party.
This is the age when kids first start appreciating the myriad of electronic books available on the iOS platform, and there is a really rich selection of these available. The Story Mouse Talking Books – Read-along story books for children (Universal – Free with one story, additional stories available via in-app purchase at £1.49 each) has been a firm favourite for many years – I published my review of it in February 2011! A good selection of books, written to appeal to children but in such a way that they don’t get boring for the adult forced to listen to them again and again! Lovely UK accent narration, and of course when your pre-schooler is older they can turn the narration off and read the book for themselves.
Another great storybook app is Me Books (Universal – Free with one story, additional stories available via in-app purchase at £1.99 each) – this app contains the largest selection of kids books I have ever seen with everything from classic ladybird books and Beatrix Potter to Charlie and Lola and Peppa Pig. My only slight reservation with this app is that it is very easy for kids of this age to get themselves into the “edit” mode (the books are very customisable, which can be a good or a bad thing!), and not be able to get out of it again. I selected a previous incarnation of this app as my app of the week in the past, and the reading interface hasn’t changed since then, unfortunately. But that’s just a little gripe against a very good app indeed, and I still recommend it.
Another favourite eBook app in our family is Froobles – Top That! (Universal – Free with one story, additional stories available via in-app purchase at £1.99 each). The Froobles are fun fruit and vegetable-based characters who have adventures by jumping into pictures that their children have drawn. Each story has a great moral message, and the narrations are recorded by celebrities like Denise Van Outen and Johnny Vaughan. Each story also has a colouring book feature and an educational game, so there are hours of entertainment to be had with this app.
Disney have a wealth of interactive storybooks available, but if you have an iPad the one you should get first is Toy Story Read-Along – Disney (iPad only – Free). Why? Because it’s free! It will give you a great idea of the quality and content of their other apps, and you can then decide if you want to purchase any more!
And finally at this age kids are starting to get creative, and this can be encouraged with your iDevice as well as with the more traditional crayon and paper. We’ve played with a lot of different drawing apps for the iPhone and iPad, and the one we like the best is Drawing Pad – Darren Murtha Design (iPad only – £1.49). Another of my apps of the week we like the selection of tools available and the user-friendly interface.
So those are the apps that I recommend for pre-school kids. Younger pre-school kids would probably also enjoy my recommendations for toddlers. What apps do your pre-school kids enjoy?
Disclosure: The links above incorporate my iTunes affiliate ID. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link it doesn’t cost you any more money, but you contribute a few pennies towards the upkeep of this site.