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6 amazing apps for kids from 18 months to 3 years old

Smartphones and tablets can be great educational tools for kids – especially if you choose the right apps. But with so many apps available on various app stores, how can you decide which ones are worthwhile?

To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of my favourites. Here are 6 educational apps for kids aged 18 months up to about 3 years.

1. Flash Cards for Kids (iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle; Free)

Essentially a virtual version of flash cards, this app is ideal for helping kids learn new words and identify their meaning through pictures and audible dictation. Select a category, like cars, food, colours, or shapes, then swipe left to scroll through items that fall into the category for each letter of the alphabet. For A, the soothing female voice will say “A, apple” and an image of an apple appears on the screen with the word beneath it. B is for banana, p is for pancake, and so forth. Spending some time running through a few categories each day will help kids start to sound out those words, and associate them with the images. As the child gets older, mute the volume so they can identify the items without help from the voiceover. A question option will display four items and ask the child to press on the right one to identify it.

2. Sesame Street Elmo Calls (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; Free-$2.29)

If your child is having difficulty with bedtime, using this app is a fun way to get them excited to go to sleep. Set the app for Elmo to “call” your phone at a specific time each day. When the phone rings, hand it over to your child, and it’ll initiate a video call: your child will see the furry Sesame Street character in the screen, with your child’s own face in a corner on the bottom. Elmo might want to sing a bedtime song together, or maybe play a bit of peek-a-boo. But then he tells your child that he’s about to head to bed, and indicates that your child should, too. Furthermore, the best part may be that the app is not just for bedtime. You can download different packs including bath time chatter, brush your teeth, and clean up time. Get them all as a package for $5.99. Brilliant!

3. Tiggly Shapes

Use these free apps with or without physical Tiggly shape toys. There are different games, starting with Safari (iOS, Android, Amazon) for learning to identify shapes and animated animals built around the shapes – perfect for 18-month-olds; to Tiggly Chef (iOS, Android, Amazon) and Addventure (iOS, Android, Amazon) for learning the basics of math – more appropriate for kids closer to age 3. Using the physical shapes can help kids get familiar with touching, feeling, and placing objects. Or, use the virtual on-screen shapes and touchscreen to play.

4. Moo, Baa, La La La! (iOS, Android; $3.99-$4.59)

Based on the popular book series, this app is like an interactive, virtual book, with flippable pages. Kids touch words to hear what they are, and tap on images for a related noise (e.g. a cow will “moo.”) But there are also cool hidden functions. For example, pull down on a page, and it’ll reveal new pictures. Or tilt the phone, and an animal’s tail might wag. Mom and dad can read to the kids, let the kids read word-by-word for themselves, or use the in-app narration.

5. Hutos ABC (iOS, Android, Amazon; $0.99-$1.10)

Here’s every letter of the alphabet laid out for your child to tap on, identify, and interact with, complemented by a cute animation. For example, tap on “D” and you’ll see “D is for Daddy” and a cartoon image of a dad with a face full of shaving cream will pop up. Your child can place his or her finger on the virtual razor, drag it over to dad’s face, and wipe all of the shaving cream away to move on to the next letter. It not only teaches letters and word identification, but also helps kids practice their fine motor skills, logical thinking, and item association.

The bottom line

With apps like the ones noted above, your child can experience a rich and educational experience beyond just play. They can also be a lifesaver during commutes.

What are your favourite apps for kids in this age group?

Let us know what you think

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