Sooner or later, you’ll be handing your tablet to smaller hands. Moments after your toddler grabs it, he’ll learn how to manipulate it better than yourself. For young children, there’s something terribly intuitive and addictive about the bright colors, moving shapes, and mesmerizing blue glow of a tablet screen. Since the next generation will be living in a world full of computer screens, resistance is futile.
Go ahead, join the Borg—and outsmart it, too. Using the same sneaky method of slipping fiber into birthday cake batter and vegetables into meatloaf, stuff that iPad full of low-cost and even free iPad games that can help your child learn to read.
AlphaTots is a simple, entertaining game that teaches the letters and sounds of the alphabet to just-budding readers. Your child taps on the letter to hear the letter sounded out and then is given a task involving a verb that starts with that same letter. Jumping through the letters is easy. A great “first” childhood game to strengthen letter identification and phonetic pronunciation.
The Cat In The Hat – Read And Learn
Using a Dr. Seuss character familiar to many toddlers and preschoolers, this app brings the classic book to vivid life. You can read the story straight through, or stop to tap a word to hear it spoken, or find the hidden features in the stars. With the strong rhyming scheme, this book and the associated app help develop a recognition of word groupings like “at” in cat, hat, mat, fat, or “op” in top, hop, mop, etc.
Though there is a free version of this available, consider investing in the low-cost full version to get all the great features. The big perk of this app is its customizability. There are three developmental levels: A starting level for three-year-olds, a middle level geared toward four-year-olds, and an upper level for five-year-olds and up. A friendly kid voice narrates pronunciation and encourages the user, so kids can easily use it at their own pace while moving up in skills.
My Word Wall
Designed for budding readers, this comes with a variety of funky musical background beats which can be muted if Mommy just can’t take it anymore. There are drag-and-drop features to help develop letter recognition and phonic recognition, but preschoolers who’ve made it past this stage have plenty to do, too. They can make rhyming words of their own by adding a selection of letters to the beginning and end of a word root. Seek-and-find and hide-and-seek games support recognition of sight words. Finally, floating letter bubbles can be combined to make a new word that matches a picture, thus developing spelling skills.
Another app that grows as your child learns, Montessori Crosswords involves dragging letters into a crossword grid to form the words that match the given pictures. Unlike many other app games, this game avoids the noise, distraction, swirling colors and excitement that can easily overload a small child’s senses. Younger users learn to link sounds to letters while older users head to the higher difficulty levels to expand their vocabulary.
Online stores are awash in educational iPad games for children of all age and grade levels. Whether you’re looking to introduce your child to new math skills or boost his vocabulary, check out parent and critical reviews to make sure the game is really educational, and not just a fun distraction.