My 17-month-old daughter, Geneva, has shown a great deal of interest in the iPad ever since I brought it home. She delights in poking virtually anything on the screen, to the point that I needed to enable every possible app password to prevent accidental deletion of data. To channel some of that curiosity into a more positive direction, I started looking for toddler friendly iPad apps. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are a few that are current favorites.
Bubbles adds bubbles to the screen as you trace your finger across the iPad. You can then pop these bubbles with your finger. The combination of the realistic motion, having different things happen each time you touch the screen, and the ability to pop bubbles makes this a winner.
Virtuoso Piano Free is a free piano app for the iPad. While my daughter isn’t on the fast track to becoming a composer just yet, Virtuoso is definitely providing some entertainment as she presses the keys to see what sounds come out. For the slightly more annoying variation on this theme, try the free version of Cat Piano Jr.
iPad developer Duck Duck Moose is my pick for best toddler-centric app developer. So far, everything they make for the iPad is a hit in my house.
Wheels on the Bus HD, which is an interactive Wheels on the Bus song gets plenty of love at my house. Each phrase of the song Wheels on the Bus has its own interactive page where you can poke, prod, slide, and otherwise experiment with items on the screen. The song is available in most languages and you can record your own version or use the instrumental if you get tired of hearing the singing.
Itsy Bitsy Spider HD is definitely a favorite because of all the various ways you can interact with objects on the screen. The level of interactivity in Itsy Bitsy Spider is significantly greater than Wheels on the Bus, which translates to greater interest. As Geneva has gotten better coordination, she finds more things to click on. There’s a semi-educational component through the narrator Chloe the Fly.
Fish School HD is one that I think will become more popular once Geneva is a little older. She zips through the alphabet as fast as possible right now. Her favorite part of that app is saying bye-bye to the fish in the color matching game. This one teaches shapes, numbers, letters, colors, offers free play interaction, and sings.
Letters A to Z is currently the favorite alphabet game in our house. There’s just enough animation to keep Geneva interested. You get both phonetic pronunciation of letters and an interactive object starting with the letter. Kids get exposure to both upper and lower case letters, which should prove useful in recognizing them later. Geneva spends the most time with this app at the moment.
Doodle Buddy gets some attention at my house, but still doesn’t win out over the feel of a crayon scribbling on paper. Geneva seems to get the most fun out of the feature that allows you to use any photo on the iPad as a background for scribbling on.