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Top 10 iPad apps for young kids

If you have an iPad in the house, then you already know how popular it is with toddlers and pre-schoolers. The easy-to-hold shape, the bright colors, and the intuitive touchscreen display all combine to make it the perfect device for young and inquisitive minds.

Of course, the iPads appeal to young children hasn’t been lost on Apple and its army of app developers. There are thousands of apps specifically targeting the 1-6 age group and more are being added every week. They range from games and puzzles to educational apps to interactive picture books and more.

While this gives parents and care-givers plenty to choose from, it can also makes the App Store a very confusing place. If you’re looking for a few age-appropriate apps for your own pre-schooler, we’ve come up with a few of our own favorites to help get you started.

Kid Art for iPad

If there is one thing the iPad is perfect for, it’s drawing and coloring and this tried and tested app is still one of the best. Kid Art has over 20 pre-drawn backgrounds, so kids just pick a color and off they go. There are also lots of animals and other sticker-type objects that can be dropped into each drawing, adding another level of creativity. There is a choice of three overall themes: Original, Under the Sea, and At School.

Cost: $0.99

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

A great app for toddlers, who will think it’s a game but will still get some educational value. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a series of games in which the monkey asks you to complete short tasks like counting fruit, touching the corresponding word that the monkey asks for, and matching cards with fruit on them. The goal is to finish these and fill the monkey’s lunch box. When you complete a game, the monkey flips and squeals, then sends you on to the next game.

Cost: $0.99

Handy Manny Workshop

Another app that asks your child to find and match shapes – this time tools for Manny’s toolbox. They can be behind desks and chairs and even outside of the viewable area. Once they are found, they float into the toolbox at the bottom of the screen. There are three levels of difficulty and tools are often moved around, so the challenge is different every time. There are also coloring and puzzle games, and even a sing-along to get your child up and moving around!

Cost: $0.99

The Three Little Pigs

One of the more expensive iPad apps, but if you buy it, you will soon realize why it commands the premium price! Named one of the Top 10 “Best Children’s Books on the iPad” by the New York Times, this fully-animated, interactive picture book is unlike anything else you will have seen. You can tap a button to make characters talk, tilt your iPad to see hidden areas, make the pigs jump and do somersaults, and even blow on the screen to help the wolf blow down the pigs’ houses. The Three Little Pigs puts your kids in charge of the action!

Cost: $5.99

Kids Song Machine HD + 10 Songs

If your child loves to sing nursery rhymes, then the Kids Song Machine app is a must. It has all the classics, including Old McDonald, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, The Wheels on the Bus, and Itsy Bitsy Spider. Kids can sing along and see the words of the song at the same time. Each song is accompanied by gorgeous interactive graphics – touch a fish and it will swim away; prod a train and it will start off along the tracks. Guaranteed to have the whole car singling along or have your kids up off the couch and dancing!

Cost: $2.99

Toy Story Read-Along

There is no shortage of interactive story books for the iPad and Disney’s digital book collection features some of the best. Toy Story closely follows the storyline of the original Pixar movie, with Buzz, Woody and all the familiar characters brought to life with beautiful animation and delightful sound effects. Children can choose to have the story read aloud or they can record their own narration with the help of mom and dad. If you like Toy Story, then Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 are also available.

Cost: Free

Bugs and Buttons

A beautifully designed collection of fun games that also teaches children to count, match patterns and shapes, and solve simple puzzles. Activities include flinging bees at flowers, sorting and packing buttons fresh off the conveyor belt, helping bugs find their way through mazes, and counting fireflies. Kids can opt to explore on their own or be guided by the easy-paced instructions. Everything is accompanied by a beautiful musical score that will hold a special appeal for kids.

Cost: $2.99

Alien Buddies

A cast of cute and quirky characters will take your child on a fascinating journey to far-away places. The goal of the game is to load an alien into the correct spaceship so they can happily fly away. To do this, children must match colors, shapes, and letters. Each time they achieve a successful mission, they are rewarded with a virtual sticker. The game offers various levels of challenge to suit children of all ages and abilities.

Cost: $1.99

Ace Writer – Alphabet Free Lite

If your child is just starting to learn her alphabet, then the iPad can be a great teaching aid. With Ace Writer kids can trace the outline of a letter with their fingers and hear the sound of the letter read back to them. Kids get to practice lower case and upper case and the app also includes illustrations of the use of letters: correctly trace D and you will see D for Dog and hear the sound of a dog barking.

Cost: Free

Magic Piano

This app isn’t just for kids but it will certainly capture the imagination of any pre-schooler, whether they have an ear for music or not. Showing off the amazing capabilities of the iPad, Magic Piano offers three different keyboard layouts, which produce remarkably lifelike piano sounds when the keys are touched. You can play freestyle on any of the layouts or you choose the songbook, which teaches you to play familiar tunes by tapping beams of light that fall on the black screen.

Cost: $1.99

Comment by Ian George Bolton, posted 11/11/2012, 3:56 PM:

I'm a parent/teacher author app designer who has written this fun guide on teaching pre-schoolers their first words in English through activities, games, songs, rhymes, poems and short stories. The ibook twinkle, twinkle, little star has over 100 illustrations and contains cartoons and audio files. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/twinkle-twinkle-little-star/id571672332?mt=11 Follow @iangeorgebolton
Comment by Stacey, posted 8/20/2012, 12:42 AM:

My daughter loves Toy Store Delivery Truck, Singing City, FlySmacker, Guess Who Silly Shadows and Baby Tap and Learn.
Comment by Alison, posted 4/17/2012, 2:30 PM:

I haven't checked out any of these apps for my kids. On the top of our list is any of the Toca Boca games. They are a great company and make exceptional kids iPad games. My boys play them all of the time!
Comment by Ruckus Media Group, posted 1/10/2012, 8:47 AM:

We also recommend our very own Spot the Dot by the pop up artist, David A. Carter. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spot-the-dot/id436198140?mt=8 Fans of David A. Carter’s best-selling book “One Red Dot” will love swiping their active little fingers across the screen to locate the hidden dots. It’s a magical journey through a mesmerizing landscape of simple yet beautiful shapes. Spot the Dot will provide hours of fun for children of all ages—and parents as well!
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