When my husband surprised me with an iPad for my 40th birthday, I first found instagram and WWF in the app store. But then I quickly went to work searching for free games for Connor. Fortunately there is a whole education section to iTunes and they help you search for free stuff pretty easily. But there is soooooo many choices! And so many not great apps too. I particularly can’t stand when they only offer a small part of the app for free and constantly bombard you with requests for money. Yes, I get it. They are trying to entice you into buying their product and perhaps there will be a day when I will find something so spectacular I may do that. But a certain three year old boy doesn’t understand that!
So as I have downloaded a bazillion different apps, I have created a special folder on the iPad – “Really Good Games!”
Here are a few of our favorites!
This was the first app I downloaded for him. It has phenomenal graphics and has a really cute storyline. At each different part of the story there is an activity for Connor to do and the activities such as building a puzzle are a little different each times he plays. They really taught him how to use the ipad! The first “appisode” is free and so far it is the only one I would consider paying for additional ones.
Too cute! For each letter of the alphabet there is a word, or two that appears on screen made up of “monster letters” that the kids drag into place. There is repetition of the letter sounds and the word along with a really cute animation of the definition of the word. My favorite part is that they are really great vocabulary words, like cooperate, flop and juggle so even though it is simple enough for preschoolers, it keeps stretching their brains. Rumor has it there is a version to purchase that gives you more words, but I haven’t seen any obvious asks yet.
Anytime Connor can connect an activity with a known entity, like a tv character, it is a hit. Some apps (sorry Thomas) just aren’t that great. Not the case with Pirate School. There are a wide variety of activities including ship sailing and band practice with many levels and a cute reward system. All of teh activities teach a different kind of ipad skill (is there such a thing?) and while he can tackle everything himself after we worked with him a little to figure it out. He can be successful now and there is still a lot of room for him to develop his skills.
Up until this game, Connor hadn’t shown any interest in learning to write letters. He loves to read, loves books, knows most of his letters, loves to draw, but he just didn’t see the point in actually drawing the letters. Until he played with this app! There are several different choices, upper and lower case letters, numbers and shapes. For each screen there are graphics, like a giraffe that eats apples, that guide the child into drawing the letters in the correct configuration so that they are not just tracing the letters but learning the direction to draw each line and curve. He was beyond excited when he figured out that he was making his letters. And never once has the app asked us for money!
It is really important to me that Connor has access to technology and that he feels comfortable using it. While his generation may be “digital natives” I want him to be able to develop these skills early so that he can access it as a teaching tool early on.