My youngest naturally wants to follow in her tween siblings’ footsteps. That’s often a positive, as she helps empty the dishwasher and reads stories to her older sister. But it also means she wants to play video games and watch YouTube.
While I’m not a big fan of sitting kids in front of the screen, we know it’s going to happen. But believe it or not, it can even be a positive and educational experience. We just have to know which platforms and activities to choose for the youngest in the family. Here are some ideas.
For more than 20 years, JumpStart has provided educational games offered on the App Store or Google Play. They offer JumpStart Preschool Academy, Kindergarten Academy and Math Academy, specifically geared toward preparing toddlers for the next phase. Kids play games with the alphabet, numbers, early reading skills and more. New to the JumpStart brand is Zoo Guardians, in partnership with Smithsonian. Kids can build their own zoo, take care of the animals, and learn more about the environment.
Widely used in school corporations across the country, ABC Mouse offers programs from ages 2-8. Reading, math, science and art subjects give parents the option of choosing age-appropriate games with multiple levels. For example, the reading category has options available from uppercase and lowercase letter recognition to sentence structure and parts of speech. Access ABC Mouse on computers, tablets and smartphones.
Sesame Street’s “Breathe, Think, Do”
In typical Sesame Street fashion, kids learn about feelings, problem-solving and managing frustration. Meet a little blue monster that children can interact with and work through the process of making the monster feel better. For example, the monster is frustrated because he can’t tie his own shoes. Children have the option of choosing among several choices and then watch the scene play out, helping them come up with a solution to the problem.
Fisher Price’s “Laugh and Learn Animal Sounds”
Learn animal sounds, first words and action/reaction skills. The app requires simple taps and touch areas for little fingers, includes fun songs and allows young children to choose among several animals on the screen, perfect for the youngest in your family who want to feel included, yet learn something along the way.
Nick Jr.’s Noggin
Popular characters like Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, PAW Patrol and Blue’s Clues come to life as children learn through stories, shows and games. Blue’s Clues works through emotion and feelings; Bubble Guppies helps kids identify letters, sounds and early word recognition; and Team Umizoomi tackles numbers, shapes and problem-solving skills, to name a few. The app also includes parent resources that help families keep moving with exercise and fun games as well as offline activities.