The top five apps for pre-schoolers are a mixed bag of fun, education and parental relief. You can find The Motherload®’s top five apps for toddlers here.
Waaay back before you’re little ones weren’t even out of the tadpole phase, you probably caught yourself saying something akin to “my children won’t play with phones and tablets” or “I’ll definitely keep screen time to an absolute minimum” but now you’re a mother of a pre-schooler, I’m confident you’ll have reconsidered the hard line stance– I know I have!
Not only does the iPad afford me some very much needed quiet time and a short break in the eternal game of ‘Anna & Elsa meet the Dinosaurs’ we seem to be playing, but I’ve also found these top five apps for pre-schoolers, have actually *whisper it* helped my pre-schooler’s development!
She’s not about to win early entry into Mensa but she’s streets ahead of me when I was her age and although it’s early days (it’s literally day four as I type this) she’s doing excellently in school despite being a summer-born baby.
So here are my top five apps for pre-schoolers that will not only keep them quiet long enough to make and consume a decent G&T but may even help them in the class room…
Top Five Apps for Pre-schoolers
- CBeebies – BBC – £FREE!
It’s a classic, it’s free and, in fact, its usefulness starts way before the pre-school years. But it’s not until pre-school age that the entire range of activities contained in this mega app will be fully appreciated.
It’s a world of games and activities related to their favourite CBeebies programs with familiar characters and easily achievable goals mainly designed to promote the understanding of the world around us.
My personal favourite is the Furchester Hotel game which helps with fine motor-skills and touch-screen dexterity as well as cognitive/problem solving skills. Although I now hear “YOU GOT A FUZZAWUBBA STAR” ringing in my head like some sort of tinnitus.
Available on Apple, Android, Kindle Fire & Windows 8
- Phonics Island – 22Learn, LLC – £2.29 (Free trial version available)
Abbie the monkey may be tedious but the game’s intentions are quite admirable. It teaches letter sounds via mini adventures and it’s based on the Montessori teaching philosophy. There are a whole host of phonics games by 22 Learn but the island one captured my little one’s imagination most.
You do need the extended version to get past island one and – a word of caution – it scores fairly high on the irritating sound effects scale (but you can turn them off if you’re prepared to risk the wrath of your threenager).
Available on Apple, Android and Kindle Fire
- Quick Math Jr – Shiny Things – FREE (in app purchases from £7.99)
This is by far my favourite “maths” app and while it’s not aimed at pre-schoolers specifically it’s do-able for them and offers a great introduction to simple math stuff like numbers, sequences, basic adding & subtraction, reasoning and even handwriting (learning to write the numbers) – children are rewarded by accessing new customisable monsters and varying body parts and accessories.
The design is really stylised and simplistic but super cute – much easier on the eye than all the mega bright YouTube guff out there. It even emails you to let you know how your prodigy is progressing and although you can get a fair bit of value out of the free version, purchasing the additional levels is well worth the money.
Available on Apple
- Princess Story Theatre – Disney – FREE (in app purchases from £1.49)
You may be rolling your eyes at the very thought of a Disney Princess app but I actually really like this and it’s made the top five apps for pre-schoolers because it fosters creativity, empathy and imaginative play.
There are loads of ways for kids to passively consume stories and cartoons but this app puts them in control of the narrative and allows them to create mini movies with their favourite characters but from their own imagination.
The app records their efforts too so you can watch them back together – great for opening up discussion and giving you a glimpse of their take on the world. There’s a Toy Story version if for some reason you object to the princesses.
Available on Apple, Android and Kindle Fire
- Video D/L – Rojas Musach – FREE / £2.99
This app is making the top apps for pre-schoolers list not because it’s awesome for pre-schoolers but because it’s awesome for the parents of pre-schoolers! Imagine if you will a four hour car journey down to Devon, the majority of which will pass in mobile signal black holes!
If you’re relying on YouTube for your free four-hour non-stop medley of Peppa Pig to keep kiddies from screaming “ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?!!” every 6 minutes, then you’re in trouble!!
With this app you can download saved videos to your phone or tablet – however you need to plan ahead as you must first download whatever it is you want your pre-schooler to watch onto your computer first (try KeepVid) and then you have to upload it to this app – you can’t do it on the go.
It’s not exactly a super simple process but once you’ve mastered it and you’re busting down the M5 in glorious silence as the kids chuckle along with the pink one, you will thank me for this tip… get some kid-friendly volume Limited wireless bluetooth headphones to fully appreciate the genius of Video D/L.
Available on Apple, but alternatives such as AVD Download Video (allegedly easier to use than the above) are available for Android.
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Anna-Belle, 35, is a writer, editor and entrepreneur, part-time foodie and lover of the odd dirty burger. Likes to leave half-drunk cups of tea around the place and go surfing or snowboarding about once a year to make herself feel cool again. Oh! And she’s a mum to two gorgeous children: Jacques (2015) an Alethea (2012).
Twitter: Two Little Time (@AnnaBelleBomb)