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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Squirt's Toddler Apps

Walkerfam 00 asked what toddler apps we used to quiet a restless Squirt.  You know, during that "it would have been absolutely horrific without the iPhone" drive to Ocean City.  For some strange reason, I feel a bit like I'm leading y'all into sin, but I'll share our favorites anyway.  Because I'm evil like that.  And because I truly don't think that handing an iPhone to a bored toddler - in rare circumstances - is all that bad of an idea.

Now, if y'all had asked me that six years ago?

When the Tongginator was a toddler?

Oh, my lands, would I have tried to hold back all manner of sanctimonious, judgmental comments.  Because OF COURSE you don't hand an expensive gadget to a toddler.  And OF COURSE you limit screen time - goodness, a one-year-old shouldn't even have any screen time.  And OF COURSE you actively engage said child in finger plays and songs and games of I Spy instead of allowing them to zone out in front of a screen.

Umm... yeah... whatever.

(Oh, how the mighty have fallen.)

Anyways, although there are quite a few excellent apps for preschoolers and elementary aged children, there aren't all that many good apps for toddlers.  Because, ya know, they shouldn't exactly be playing them.  (See whatever above.  Because try having a seven year gap in between children, and then dragging the toddler along to all manner of appointments and such.)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, not ones that I Love And Adore And Give All Manner Of Accolades about. But they do capture the attention of Squirt, and that's pretty much what I care about during a three hour car ride with a toddler who refuses to sleep in the car.

ASL Dictionary
I love this app, not only for Squirt, but for me!  It's great when we are out-and-about and I'm racking my brain trying to remember a sign.  Although Squirt's language is exploding, we continue to sign with her, especially when introducing new vocabulary words.  To be honest, I think Squirt could actually care less about most of the video clips (showing the ASL while verbalizing the word).  For her it's all about using a Big Person App that looks a lot like Momma's contact list.

Elmo's Monster Maker
It's not that this is a great app.  It's that it's Elmo.  And my daughter?  Is an Elmo NUT.  The Tongginator never cared about Elmo, or even Sesame Street for that matter.  Neither did she give a fig about Barney.  Or Dora.  Or anything you'd expect.  Because the Tongginator was and is all about being difficult different.  No, the Tongginator was all about Hi-5.  What, you've never heard of Hi-5?  Yeah... well... they're off the air now, so I don't think you're alone.  It was actually a GREAT show (I don't say that lightly), but it never seemed to gain an audience.  But Squirt? Squirt's favorite will be around forever.  Because it's Elmo!

Fish School
To be honest, this one kinda creeps out my sensory self.  There is something about all of those fish eyes staring at you while the school of fish shifts into various shapes, letters and numbers.  But not everyone has my sensory issues, and Squirt seems to love this.  I like it because it moves seamlessly from topic to topic despite bumbling toddler fingers.  And because the audio is actually (surprisingly) quite soothing.

Toddler Teasers: Quizzing (Shapes, Numbers, Letters, Colors Combo)
Squirt loves this app... it taught her numbers one through ten and most of her colors just during the four hours we sat in pre-op back in late May.  I mean, it seriously did, y'all.  It's very simple to navigate when it comes to fine motor skills.  One of its major drawbacks is the incessant "try again" and "yeah!" chorus that drones in the background as your toddler answers the "questions."  But this is - by far - Squirt's favorite app.

Now, I'm all about Real Puzzles.  Because children need to experience Real Puzzles.  But sometimes - like during a three hour car trip to Ocean City - it's just plain not possible to pull out a Melissa and Doug board with five to fifteen pieces.  That's where Tozzle comes in.  It's a puzzle app!  And Squirt loves it.

Do y'all have any favorites?  Or are you thinking "TM, you are cray-cray for handing an almost-two-year-old an iPhone?"  It's okay.  Lay it on me.  I can take it.  (Really, I can.)


Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

You must not be the only one, because Zulily has a bunch of these up: http://www.zulily.com/p/car-seat-cinema-smart-phone-17679-1691040.html?pos=71&e=1& It holds your phone and links onto various baby holding devices so your tot can watch but not destroy.

Aus said...

Actually - I think you're pretty sensible about the whole thing. 1) When in difficulty "any port in a storm" is a good rule, in particular if it is because your ship is sinking... 2) What's the worst that's going to happen - she's going to break the phone by dropping / throwing it out the window / or something along those lines. Meh - it's insured - right? ;) 3) What's the next worse thing that's going to happen? She's going to erase everything - but you have it synced to your computer so you can restore it and did that right before you left so you loose the absolute minimum of data - right? ;) again!

Really - I don't think it's that bad an idea - except that it's made by that 'other' computer company... (I'm gonna stop now because I'm on a roll!!) ;)

hugs - no problems from this camp - and it would really be a blessing if it got broke anyway (cause it's from that "other" company...)

aus and co.

Shari said...

Obviously I have no problem with screen time for kids. Of course as a single mom who worked full time while getting her MBA I realize some things are necessary to maintain sanity. I'm glad you found some aps that work for Squirt.

Steph said...

I'm with ya! My almost 2 yr old loves the PBS app (super why) and a Mickey mouse clubhouse app. All the ones I downloaded were free. I downloaded tons right before we took 2 kids under 2 across the country on a plane for the first time, just in case they declared mutiny and all the other passengers wanted to kill us. This is the only screen time he gets since we don't have cable and even that's a limited amount but I say do what works!

Asianmommy said...

Very cool! Thanks for the recs.

LucisMomma said...

Moms who don't have a very active child (or those without children) might frown on the whole tv-or-app-laden device. But the rest of us understand. :)

We have a Kindle Fire and have lots of games (apps) on it for DD. She's 7, but having learning difficulties and these give her fun practice.

Sara said...

Believe it or not, my 3 year old is addicted to angry birds. I figure, fine motor...right??

She also eats up the Toddle Teasers though.

Kathleen said...

I love this post and will have to check out these apps for the 27 hours of travel to bring our boy home.

So far all we've done with him is angry birds and fruit ninja on the iPad, and I'd like to elevate that a touch. Although he did LOVE them both. :)


M3 said...

Our girls adore Cupcakes! by Maverick Software, CookieDoodle by Shoe the Goose, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (monkeypreschool.com), Drawing Pad (touchscreenpreschoolgames.com), DinerDash, and I can't remember what else because I just downloaded Toca Hair Salon for them (Stefanie's recommendation) and they ripped the iPads out of my hands. The Monkey Preschool Lunchbox one is young for the girls now, but would be perfect for Squirt.

Amy said...

Our toddler (2 years) LOVES any apps by Duck Duck Moose. They have an Itsy Bitsy Spider one that has soothing music & keeps my boy's attention for quite a while (which is a feat in itself!). We also love Tozzle. I'm going to look into a few of your recommendations too- Thanks!!