iPads & IPad Apps for Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • I am considering getting my 5 year old her own computer or tablet.  My 7 year old has his own chrome book and I'm getting a lot of pressure and nagging from my 5 year old (and the grandparents) to get the 5 year old one too, so she is able to have one available to her since the 7 year old won't share his with her after she accidentally ruined his progress on a few games and messed up his score by using his account on some apps.   It is his device and even though we set reasonable limits on screentime which he respects, we respect his choice and don't plan to force him to share with her.  We used to have a kids shared ipad (my old one) that she used, but it broke and she does not like the kindle fire kids device that we have for the younger ones to share.  Any advice on a good device for a younger child?  I considered another chromebook, but it seems silly to get a computer for a kindergarten aged child who cannot really read or type yet.  I would like something that is easy for a 5yo to use independently after we help her set it up, that is touch screen, that would allow me to get apps on it pretty easily using either itunes account, google play account, or amazon account (as I have apps for all three due to our various devices in the family), and that is convenient to use for both shows watching (netflix, pbs kids, etc.) and using for a wide array of education apps/websites/games.  Cost is not really a concern, though I would like something that is reasonably priced since it is intended for a 5 year old. Thanks.  

    Maybe consider an Amazon Fire Tablet kids edition. It's an android tablet with access to the Amazon prime programming and has a kids profile that has a pretty simple interface. You can also maintain additional profiles from which to which things like Netflix

    My suggestion is that first you read up on pediatricians' and psychologists' formal recommendations for digital devices for children, e.g. American Academy of Pediatrics. Their recommendations urge limiting use of electronic devices of any type by young children (including 5 year olds) and address the issues of supervision vs. independent use. You state that you are getting a lot of pressure from your 5 yr old and grandparents. I understand that's difficult to turn off.  It's your call, not theirs.  The more informed you are of the risks, drawbacks and effects, both positive and negative on cognitive development of electronic device use by children-- as opposed to the choice of devices available--the better your decision will be. If you plan to limit the amount of time 5 yr old can use a device, perhaps having her own isn't the issue...she can use a device you already have for the small amount of recommended time.  

  • Recommended games/apps for 8 - 12 yo?

    (2 replies)

    My girls are 8 and 12 and I'd be grateful for any advice/input regarding fun and maybe even edcuational games/apps - apart from Cut the Rope/Slither.io or Minecraft...

    Many thanks!

    App-ignorant mum


    My 8 year old enjoys making her own stop motion animation movies with the free Lego stop motion animation app.  For more educational apps- we also just downloaded a math app that is called "Matific" which she seems to like and learning the states app called "stack the states" and of course "khan academy".  If they liked Cut the Rope, have they played Where's My Water (not a new one, but also a puzzle type game)?  

    Not an app or a game, but at that age my kids really liked Google Sketchup.  Mostly they downloaded amazing models built by others and then customized them, but you can build your own too. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews



IPad Apps for toddler on plane flight

Dec 2013

We'll be traveling across the country with our 20mo daughter in December and since it's a long (5 or 6 hrs) flight, we've decided to bring an iPad. However, we've never really used one, and have no idea what apps to get. She doesn't really watch tv, though sometimes enjoys videos or herself or other kids singing/dancing. I was hoping for an app that lights up or something when you touch/draw with it - interactive and very simple. Any ideas? Also, any good video ideas she might enjoy?? Thanks! Not Ready for this long flight!

Here are my iPad app recommendations for toddlers. We are app aficionados and my kids are play testers for a couple of developers. You'll be set with any 4 or 5 of these apps. Injini Child Development Game Suite, Endless Reader, all the Stella and Sam Zinc Roe Games, Forest Flyer by Sago Sago, Present for Milo, Not Without Bear, Noodle Words, elias Match, Wee Alphas, Zoo Train, Toca Doctor, Toca Tea Party, Toca Band, Doodlecast for kids, Kid in Story Book Maker (that one is great for creating memory books of your travels.), My Playhome, My PlayStore, Cookie Doodle, Tangrams, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, Match Blitz, Doodle Critter Math, Felt Board, Lazoo drawing apps, Art Maker by ABC's Play School, Write My Name, PBS Kids video player but you need internet service for it to work.

For movies, I like the shorts instead of full length so I have more space on my iPad for apps.

Tangled Every After Oktapodi (love love this one) Jack-Jack Attack (Pixar) For the Birds (Pixar) Day and Night (Pixar) Presto (Pixar) The Fantastic Flying Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore (companion to the app - won academy award)
Have Fun! iPad and learning app fan!

I can't wait to read what others suggest, as I'm always looking for new apps for my 21-month-old.

Right now he loves a few apps: Forest Flyer, Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Zoo (anything Peekaboo is good), Storybook apps like the Beanbag Kids Little Red Riding Hood, Little Town, Animals and Tools for Babies, and simple apps with shapes and colours (they ask him to tap the circle, tap the heart, etc).

The iPad is a great tool for a flight, but make sure you bring a couple of other toys and books as well. Toddlers' short attention spans require cycling through a variety of different types of entertainment! T

We are in the same boat - no TV or screens in our house, but recent car rides and airplane rides had us turn to the tablet for backup entertainment.

My 22 month old loves Peekaboo Barn, which is cute and simple. He also loves an app called Talking Ginger, which is a cat that makes sounds and purrs when you scratch him. I am a total novice, but Peekaboo Barn seems 'classier' to me than Talking Ginger, which is free and has ads for other apps and is just generally cheesier looking. It's also harder for my son to use and he tends to quit the app when he touches the wrong area of the screen. But he loooooves that cat.

You might also want to try downloading some episodes of Sesame Street.

We found that it was better to 'practice' this stuff with him before the trip for a week so he could learn how to be entertained and sit still long enough to watch the screen. Sounds like a funny problem to have, but if your child hasn't watched TV they might not really know how to zone out to it. Also will give you a chance to see whether you need kid-sized headphones. My son wouldn't keep them on his head.

The only other issue is that after your trip, you may find your child asking incessantly for the tablet. whatever it takes on planes and car trips

My toddler loves Sandra Boynton books on the iPad - we have Barnyard Dance and Blue Hat, Green Hat. They are interactive and fun. He also likes The Monster at the End of This Book and Another Monster at the End of This Book, the Sesame Street stories with Grover and Elmo, also very interactive but might require some adult help at 20 months. He also love an app called PianoBall. Good luck with the flight! thank goodness for ipads

My child didn't really engage with ipad apps or videos until closer to 2 1/2 or 3. We first flew at age 2 and he would only watch a video for a few minutes. At your child's age, I would focus on bringing a bunch of novel items and expect that you will likely have to entertain your child most of the flight unless you have a particularly placid child. Bring along a lot of snacks, books, and some new toys. You can find a lot of ideas on the internet for small toys to take on planes (google 'air travel with toddlers' or something like that). One of the best 'toys' I had was an empty seven-day pill case (the cheap kind with the plastic snapping lids). He spent 20 minutes opening the lids and putting raisins in the little boxes. Good luck!

Putting movies on IPad for long airplane trip

May 2013

I usually stream movies but of course I cannot do this on an airplane. How do folks transfer DVDs from a pc to ipad? Where do you ''store'' them on the ipad? I seem to have a storage issue when I download TV shows as I keep getting messages that there is not enough space for more than 1-2 TV shows in ''usage''. Maybe I'm not storing them in the right place? I keep reading on BPN about how great iPads are for movies on airplanes I can't figure out how to do this. Still using a DVD player on Airplanes

I just rent movies from iTunes and download them before the trip. You have 30 days to watch them (but once you start watching you have 24 hours to finish or they disappear). If you rent HD movies you can usually fit 2 or 3 (depending on what else is on your iPad). If you don't need HD you can fit a few more. Also lots of TV shows/series on iTunes if you want to catch up with some episodes while flying. So much easier than taking all the time to do the transfers, compression, etc. Renting movies averages $4.99 each; TV shows are either $1.99 or .99 to rent or buy. love flying with my iPad

I asked my kid and he says his are on Vimeo, on the iPad. He's 7 and gets around pretty good on that thing. non-tech mom

Download a program called HandBrake that will let you rip your DVDs to your computer, then upload to IPad. I think Vimeo would require a web connection and renting off of iTunes wouldn't be good if you wanted to watch the same movie there and back. We do long drives a lot and this has been great. Video watcher

i figured out how to make a soft copy of my movies---put DVDs onto my computer-- but I had trouble putting them on the iPad. then I came across good reader and it made it so easy! also my son loves to watch videos and pics of himself and play some games. if you get lucky, some airlines like ANA have a selection of on demand videos for kids! good luck!

There is a free and easy to use program called Format Factory that is very useful this task and may others. Check it out here: http://download.cnet.com/FormatFactory/3000-2194_4-10968547.html -- An A/V Professional

IPAD games for a 5 year old

Dec 2012

A couple times a month our almost five year old is allowed to play games on our iPAD as a treat. We are looking for suggestions on some fun apps for games, preferably ones that are free. Thank you!

There is a free iPad app called 'Todas las letras' for helping kids learn the Spanish alphabet. It has audio, cute drawings, and interactivity, and it's free with no ads. I created the app for my 5-year old daughter, maybe yours will like it too. Dan Mc

I'm not sure when your kid will be ready, but when he is, I recommend Scrabblenauts for any kid who is learning to read: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribblenauts-remix/id444844790?mt=8

It's not designed as an educational game, so it's actually fun. However, as a side benefit, it does a great job in teaching kids words and spelling. The way it works is, each level is a puzzle, and you have to spell words to solve it. Anything you can spell, it appears. So a typical level would be 'give everyone what they want' and you'd have to give the policeman maybe handcuffs, the chef a cooking knife, etc.

The trick is, you have to be able to spell the words to make the objects appear, so at first the kid will ask you how to spell something, but eventually they will be able to spell it themselves. Alex H.

I recommend checking out Mind Leap www.mindleaptech.com. It is a really easy to navigate review site for iPhone and iPad apps. While it focuses specifically on educational apps, many are fun games that happen to be educational -and you can search by grade (PK-1st for your child). My first grader likes BrainPop, WordGirl and Super 7. App Fan

A friend's company just released an app for the ipad, based on Dean Morrissey's 'Ship of Dreams'. It has three reading levels and lots of educational and fun interactivity, www.shipofdreamsapp.com Molly

Should I allow 8 year old to buy an IPad?

Sept 2012

My eight year old daughter has saved her allowance, birthday money, etc. and wants to purchase an iPad. **I** don't even have an iPad, mostly because we are not wealthy by any means and I just can't afford the expense! Should I allow such a young child to own something so expensive? Part of me thinks it's **her** money and she should be able to buy what she wants with it. The other part thinks it's just too expensive and extravagant for a child. What do you think? Unsure about iPad

It's great your daughter was able to save that much money on her own, instead of falling prey to spending money as soon as she got it on cheap, instant-gratification items! I would let your daughter get the iPad, especially if she's the responsible type. My son, at age 10, also had enough birthday money and saved allowance to buy an iPad, and I let him. (I don't have one either!) He uses it mostly to play games (e.g., Zombies vs. Plants), watch Netflix instant movies (we don't have cable TV) and YouTube videos, play music (using iTunes and a sound dock he bought the next year), download books, and do Internet searches for school work. Before I let him get the iPad we went over rules (e.g., limits on screen time, it had to stay in the house, kinds of things he was allowed to watch on Netflix, no realistic violent games, etc.). His is 1st generation, so he doesn't have a built-in camera, which would have been nice so he'd be able to Skype with out-of-area relatives. He's also taken it on vacations and long car rides (his has enough power for 8 hours). One suggestion: buy it online so you can have her name and phone number engraved on the back. Now relatives and friends can always please him by giving him iTunes cards as gifts!

FYI, this past year, I bought my now 12 year old son a TINY iPod Nano ($130) as a special xmas gift, and THAT was a damned mistake! It was stolen out of his backpack within the first week (I didn't want him to take it to school, but he does have a long walk/bus ride to/from home, so he convinced me it would be okay). He broke into his coin bank and within a few more months of allowances was able to replace it. That time I insisted it be purchased online so it could be engraved with his name/number. Within a week, that one's power button failed. Apple was awesome, and it was replaced right away. The third one was in MY jeans pocket, and it went through the wash. I'm paying him back, but he's decided to save the money (allowance and paid extra work from me and grandma) to get the iTouch, because we both now feel that the Nano is cursed and the larger iTouch will be easier to keep track of! iPad? Yes!

If she earned the money, fair and square, then it is not your decision how she chooses to spend her money. An iPad with the right apps will be a great learning tool. Mom in smart nerdy family

Good for your daughter! She saved for something she really wanted. And you must be doing a great job to teach her the value of saving. You should absolutely allow her the ability to achieve the reward she desires after foregoing smaller treats to save for her iPad. You want her to continue to see hard work, focus, and determination can reap lots of rewards in life. Good for your daughter! She's going to LOVE her iPad. This will be a terrific lesson, one of those ''aha! moments'' that she will remember for years to come. Hope I can teach the same to my daughter

I would let her buy the iPad but restrict the internet access for it. As an 8 year old, she can't get her own anyway (she can't legally enter into a contract with a provider). You don't want her using the internet out of your sight at this point.

Also, your daughter is probably much more responsible and obedient than my son, but just given how seductive these devices can be, you should take it away at bedtime and put it somewhere she can't get at it during the night. My son was getting up and sneaking downstairs to retrieve his smartphone so he could use it while I was asleep. I finally figured this out and now it sits on my nightstand once he goes to bed. iAddict

Wow! I am impressed by your daughter's ability to save money and stick with a goal. I say - go for it. I am just starting to realize how essential technology is for the younger generations. An iPad sounds like a luxury item for us, but for young people, they are taken for granted as part of communication. learning, and connecting.

Either the iPad will live up to her expectations or it will sit around collecting dust. Either way, that will be a learning opportunity in itself. You can still have appropriate oversight over when and how she uses it. I bet she will let you borrow it sometimes. Learning tech from my kids

First let me say both my husband and I are very technologically savee and have a good deal of technology in our home. However, our daughter at 6 is not yet allowed much if any access to it or ''screen'' time in general. We have agreed that at about 8-9 will will increase her access to devices and computers as we prefer she spends time being creative, reading, or playing imaginative games. At 8 I could see allowing my child to buy and Ipad with her own money as long as there were specific limits and oversite agreed to up front. For example, I would set specific time limits as I would with TV, such as 1 hour per day maximum during weekedays and maybe occasionally longer on weekends for a movie. Additionally I woulld be sure to monitor what games are on it, what videos she can see (you tube has both kid and adult vidoes), and her genral access to the internet. I would recommend that the Ipad not be left in her room when it is not during an agreed upon time to use it. Ultimately, I believe that as long as she is taught to respect limits, even though its ''hers'' and given good tools to learn to navigate it well by you and her dad, it could work out fine and be a good learning tool. techie with limits

We have a family ipad and my 8yo son has an itouch. We are not big proponents of gadgets, electronics or tv, but we are not anti any of those things either. I think the ipad is great. I am not sure if I'd let my kid have one just to themselves, but the games, books, educational things we have are great. My 6yo daughter loves the drawing/painting apps, games, etc. My 8yo loves angry birds, planst vs. zombies, etc. The games are usually reasonably prices, and some are free, as opposed to getting a WII or xbox where the games are $50 each. They can watch movies or shows, play music. we even have a piano app. So, if she has the money, I don't see anything wrong with it. Just LIMIT the time! Our kids get their choice of screen time for just 30 minutes during the week and only if homework is done and rooms are picked up. anon

I think that if she is truly buying it completely with her allowance she should be allowed to do it it would be a good learning experience. If you do buy one think of getting a refurbished Ipad 2 with extra memory instead of the 3 once you start putting lots of pictures , videos and songs on the pad the standard 16gig gets used up pretty fast.

The other option is to convince her to buy a cheaper droid tablet such as the Google Nexus. I bought my 9 and 11 girls a Samsung 7 Tab each last year for their birthday and they love them. we have an ipad and rarely do they ask to use it instead of their tablets. scott

I'm wondering since she has already saved her money, what the previous conversation or expectations were for her. It sounds like she saved it under the idea that she would be able to buy. Did you promise? Have you changed your mind? It is okay to change your mind but just be sensitive in communicating your feelings and concerns.

That said, there are two aspects to the issue. One is having a goal and saving money to reach that goal. This is noble of her and she should have some say in what she gets. But it does not follow that saving money means she can get whatever she wants. You are the parent. She is still young. The internet is somewhat dangerous for kids... Not only that, it is addictive and can keep them from other meaningful activities. Does she have friends with technology and wants to fit in?

So I might have a talk and ask her why it is important to her (have her write a list) and tell her though you understand her feelings, that she needs to wait until an appropriate age to have a computer. Meanwhile go read, ride bikes, live life...

Good educational iPad apps/games for 6 year old

Sept 2011

Hello, My wife and I just got an iPad for the apartment and our son (now 6) loves it. However, we've been having trouble finding good educational games that he both enjoys and learns from. Can anyone recommend a few good educational iPad apps/games for kids around his age? Thanks, Michael

Here are a couple of apps that I've had great experiences with:
- Angry Birds (not really educational but very addictive)
- Cut the Rope (very addictive brain teasers)
- Math Bingo (bingo game; arithmetic practice)
- Grow Your Garden (practice arithmetic by growing flowers in a garden)
- Motion Math (learn fractions; though might be difficult for 6 year old)
Hope this is helpful!! Joanne

IPad applications pre-schoolers

Oct 2010

Parents: I'm interested to find out if any of you are using the IPad as a learning tool? If so, what applications have you found useful for pre schoolers?

My kids love SoundBingo - you can play it on the ipad, itouch or iPhone, it comes with a few games for free, and they can even play together ! (cooperatively or competitively).

You can also buy the 'kit' for $1 or $2, which includes another dozen games and let's you build your own games, customized for your child - family, friends, sounds/photos in their world, or even sounds and words you're targetting at school or speech therapy. For toddlers the photos are great, for bigger kids you can switch to words or letters, or a name-that- tune version for grownups!

They also like NowHearThis which let's you record them, and edit them, and add sound effects and music, then save them and/or send them to grandparents. Celeste