How to keep the little ones entertained while travelling, during a dinner out or while commuting in the MRT? Every parent knows the challenge of having an energic toddler seated quietly for more than 20 seconds and, in these situations, electronic devices seem like a viable solution to keep them engaged.

Kids and technology – is it a combination that brings good or bad. Some experts warn against using technology to “babysit” children. Other experts say that technology, when chosen appropriately and used in moderation, can help children learn. It all boils down to us parents. Choosing to have our kids use technology is not as easy as buying them a smartphone or a tablet. It also comes down to knowing which educational apps to get and more importantly, regulating technology use.

With loads of apps to choose from and a tablet or smartphone becoming increasingly more affordable and accessible from stores such as Aliexpress, here are some of the best kid learning apps to keep the little ones entertained.

1. Talking ABC, Android, and iOS (Ages 2-7 years)

Image Credit: Hey Clay | Google Play Store

Talking ABC is one of those apps that have been around for a while. It has also gotten rave reviews from parents who swear by its efficacy in keeping young kids entertained while learning their alphabet. Hey Clay is the app’s developer which means that it features cute and colorful animals in all their claymation glory.

The app teaches letter names, their sounds and the names of animals that correspond to each letter. It has 3 parts – Alphabet, Song, and Games. The games feature 6 mini-games which help your child recognize letters, their sounds, and animal names. Its version of the Alphabet Song shows all the letters turn into animals as the song is sung.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: Talking ABC, $3.80; Talking ABC Lite, free (only covers A to E)

2. Endless Alphabet, Android and iOS (Ages 4-7 years)

Image Credit: Originator

Endless Alphabet is literally endless, as regular updates of the app feature new words that the kids can play with. The app features cute monsters who help demonstrate and illustrate the words’ meanings. Kids will have fun interacting with each word.

As your child opens a word, the letters get jumbled. She will need to put back each letter to where they belong. As she drags on a letter, it makes a distinct sound that teaches your child what that letter sounds like. When she completes the word, a short animation plays showing her what the word means.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: $12.98 on the App Store, free to download on Google Play and one-time in-app purchase will unlock the rest of the words

3. My Very Hungry Caterpillar, Android and iOS (Ages 2-7 years)

Image Credit: Storytoys.com

If your kids love Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, they will adore this app which allows them to take care of their very own caterpillar. Made by Storytoys, this app was listed as Google Play’s Best of 2015.

This highly interactive app lets your child interact with a caterpillar who looks exactly like the one in the storybook. He can play with it, feed it, and put it to sleep if it needs to rest. They can explore nature together, pick fruits from the trees in the caterpillar’s world and many others. Your child will do this until the caterpillar turns into a butterfly and the cycle starts again.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: $6.98 in the App Store; free to download in Play Store but in-app purchases required to unlock items

4. Toca Blocks, Android and iOS (Ages 4-7 years)

Image Credit: Toca Boca

Playing in a sandbox type of world will let your kids develop their sense of imagination. And this is exactly what Toca Blocks wants to achieve. Kids can build their own 2-dimensional worlds using different blocks and other tools with this app. They can build as many worlds as they want. They also get to play with three characters in the app, each with its own abilities. Think of this app as something like Minecraft without the violence and competition.

Because of its open-ended nature, you may want to put a cap on how much time your child spends playing this, as with any other app. The app is an Editor’s Choice on the App Store.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: $4.48 on the App Store

5. Lingu Pinguin, English-Chinese, iOS only (Ages 5 and under)

Image Credit: Elevision Film

Language learning can be difficult in general, but young kids have the tendency to pick up new words so long as they are regularly exposed to it. If you are looking for apps to help your kids learn Mandarin, Lingu Pinguin is a fun way to learn new words and increase your child’s vocabulary.

This app is part of a bundle of language learning apps developed by a German company, Elevision. As they explore nine different worlds or settings, they learn what each item or object is in English and in Mandarin.

  • Available on the App Store only
  • Price: $2.98 on the App Store

6. Piggy Picnic, iOS only (Ages 3 to 5 years)

Image Credit: Better Chinese via iTunes App Store

Piggy Picnic by Better Chinese is another interactive language learning app appropriate for pre-schoolers. It teaches colors, numbers, sizes and fruit names through 6 interactive games. All of this happens in the world of Mister Piggy, as he and Miss Piggy go on a picnic.

You can choose to have your audio options with Chinese and English, or Chinese only. Kids will need to listen very closely to how words are pronounced. Its simple navigation makes it easy to use for kids and parents alike.

  • Available on the App Store only
  • Price: $2.98 on the App Store

7. My Playhome, Android and iOS (Ages 5 to 8 years)

Image Credit: Shimon Young via Google Play Store

Does your kid want a playhouse but you find it expensive? Or you may simply not have enough space in your home for it? My Playhome will be perfect for this. This app offers a digital playhouse that your child can play with for hours on end. And the good thing is, you don’t have to worry about breaking anything.

Everything inside the house can be used – your child can give her doll a shower, she can cook a meal and feed her, and she can wash the dishes and many more.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: $5.98

8. Toca Hair Salon, Android and iOS (Ages 9 to 11 years)

Image Credit: Toca Boca via Google Play Store

Another app from Toca Boca which is as colorful as the other apps they develop. Toca Hair Salon 3 is the third version of this popular app that allows kids to play the role of a hairstylist. Kids can experiment with different tools such as scissors, clippers, a razor and combing tools. They can also choose different colors and treatments for their customers.

They go through the steps as they would in an actual hair salon – wash, blow dry, style with different styling tools and braiding tools too. They can also take a picture of their creations and save it in the photo gallery.

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: $4.48

9. Moose Math by Duck Duck Moose, Android, and iOS (Ages 3 to 7 years)

Image Credit: Duck Duck Moose via Google Play Store

We all know how kids usually don’t like math so it would be good to start them young and introduce math learning that is fun. With Moose Math, your pre-schooler goes on an adventure with Mr. Moose while learning basic mathematical concepts.

In the Moose Juice Store, kids can make smoothies while learning how to count, add and subtract. Kids can also build their own city, and paint and decorate their buildings. Problem-solving skills will also be honed as kids go through the different activities and mini-games. Parents can also get a Report Card

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Price: Free

10. The Robot Factory by Tinybop, iOS only (Ages 5 to 11 years)

Image Credit: Tinybop via iTunes App Store

Tinybop is known for making apps that help kids learn science in a fun and entertaining way. The Robot Factory is no exception. This robot-making kit gives kids access to over 100 robot parts. While it teaches basic physics concepts, your kids can also just manipulate it for fun.

With Robot Factory, your child can any robot that she can imagine. This open-ended construction app was an iPad App of the Year and a Parent’s Choice Gold Awardee.

  • Available on the App Store only
  • Price: $4.48

Kids and Technology: Some Reminders

Image Credit: Igor Starkov | Unsplash

Because technology is already so ubiquitous in our daily lives, parents especially those with young kids need to think about having their children exposed to technology every day. They have to be aware of the dangers of not being able to regulate its use.

Technology addiction is already a recognized phenomenon that is happening nowadays and it usually starts when kids become exposed too early and unregulated. Here are some reminders:

  • For children 18 months to 24 months, parents are recommended to watch with their children and that the apps they should choose should have been vetted by experts
  • For children 2 to 5 years, parents should limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality apps
  • For children 6 years and older, parents should set limits on the time their kids spend on using media and the types of media

A good balance to keep the kiddos entertained

In the end, parents need to remember that moderation is the key. As well as a good balance between letting your kids have real-world experiences while having meaningful interactions with technology. Most of all, parents should enjoy their time with their kids together as quality time.

Featured Image credit: Sakae Teppanyaki | Pexels.com

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