As you’ve handed over your digital devices at some point to educate, entertain or perhaps even pacify your child, you’ve no doubt felt the pangs of guilt wondering if it’s harmful to them and somehow affecting their development. With all the media hype, who could blame you?
But the fact is, there is emerging research showing children can actually learn from touch devices (age-appropriate apps and monitored usage being key). Research showing that the more interactive features of touch devices are encouraging children to think in more advanced ways, than traditional, passive types of technology like television and DVDs.
So to help ease some of your digital guilt, here are 10 apps that increase learning and are carefully designed to help children develop higher-order thinking skills, compared to many of the ‘skill-and-drill’ type apps that dominate the children’s app market.
1. Toontastic (Toontastic have also released a range of other fantastic storytelling apps such as ToontasticJr and Monkeygram)
This FREE app comes HIGHLY recommended. It is a storytelling app that allows users to draw, animate and share their own cartoons through imaginative play. Press the record button, move characters on-screen, add sound effects and record your child’s narration! Toontastic will then play back the animation and voice as a cartoon for users to share on ToonTube. Suitable for children aged 4- 12 years. Hint- this app has ‘in-app’ purchases, where you can purchase extra backgrounds and characters.
This app allows young children to create their own digital stories with ease. Students can draw their own pictures, take photos with the built-in camera and record their voice. The finished story can be emailed or uploaded online. This is a great app to record a trip to the zoo or a family holiday. Suitable for 4-12 year olds.
3. Math Doodles
This creative math’s app is designed for students in primary school. Users complete a series of interactive activities to add a variety of number together. There are three games ‘Sums Stacker’, ‘Connect Sums’ and ‘Unknown Square’ at this stage. Suitable for children aged 5- 12 years.
This app is ideal for Australian children familiar with Play School. Using this app, students can create movies and drawings using Play School characters. Suitable for children aged 2-5 years.
5. Motion Math Hungry Guppy (see also Motion Math HD, Motion Math Hungry Fish Motion Math Zoom & Questimate)
These well-designed and engaging games actually make math’s learning fun. These are ideal apps to consolidate students’ understanding of number combinations (Hungry Guppy for children aged 3-5 years and Hungry Fish), Fractions (HD) and number lines (Zoom). All of the Motion Math apps are engaging and have multiple levels to allow for skill mastery. Users pinch the screen and tilt the iPad to operate these apps. Suitable for children aged 3- 12 years, depending on the selected app.
This app allows users to create an artwork that they can talk about, and then it saves both the artwork as well as their narration to your photo album. All of the on-screen movement is captured as a short video with your child’s voice narrating. Suitable for 2-8 year olds.
This creative app allows children (and parents) to make their own interactive flashcards. Insert your own photographs using your camera roll or camera app, record your own voice and videos as well. Suitable for children aged 4+ years.
This award-winning app has been created by an ex-Pixar developer. It is a combination of a picture book and animated film and has many interactive elements. Suitable for children aged 3- 12 years. One of the best book apps on the market.
This video-editing app allows users to edit and share videos, using video footage captured from the built-in iPad camera. Suitable for children aged 8-12 years (may need some adult scaffolding). Children love planning, filming and editing their own movies.
10. Monster Physics
This app allows users to experiment with basic physics principles in an engaging and playful way. Build intricate, operational contraptions from a variety of materials and then test your creation in real time. Suitable for children aged 5 to 12 years.
Whilst the above apps certainly promote children’s learning, it is important to remember that touch devices are no replacement for real, hands-on learning experiences and rich interactions with parents and children. Children still need opportunities to engage in play with blocks, mud, toys and cardboard boxes in conjunction with using technology.
What apps do your kids love playing?