Apps up and away
It's hard to tell if Steve Jobs had children in mind while designing the iPad, but developers certainly have while developing apps for hand-held devices. We select some of the most instructive and entertaining of educational apps for preschoolers
This is one of the most popular educational apps for iPhone and iPad. Its teaching is four-fold: sight words (for pre-kinder and kindergarten kids), addition (upwards to 10), subtraction (from 10 downwards), and spelling (completing words by choosing the first letter). Its reward system involves children 'earning' a coin for every three correct answers. The coins can be used to buy stickers that can then be placed onto fun scenes (a farm, beach, underwater reef, pirate cove and city), or to purchase items for the virtual aquarium.
The Three Little Pigs - Nosy Crow animated storybook
Developer: Nosy Crow
The classic tale is brought to life, thanks to simple and effective storytelling. Narrated by children, the e-book is presented in 3-D (there's a 'Read by Myself' mode for those who want to do just that) with sophisticated animation and numerous interactive surprises. As the iPad is moved, the reader sees different perspectives, making the pages look fresh at every glance. Thanks to technology, the art of storytelling has evolved.
abc PocketPhonics: Letter sounds and writing, plus first words
Developer: Apps in My Pocket
Popular due to its attractive graphics and sound effects, this app is also highly rated for a feature that demonstrates how to enunciate letter sounds (instead of merely pronouncing the letters as in other apps). It also has options which allow users to choose between American and British pronunciation, writing styles (lower case, joined-up and upper case), and adjust the accuracy of drawing letters.
Interactive Alphabet - ABC Flash Cards
Developer: Pi'ikea St
If you are searching for an app that teaches your child the alphabet, this is for you. Its interface works well at the fingers of kids aged three and below. Child too young to interact with the iPad? Simply turn on the 'Baby mode' so that the letters appear on the screen (every 15 seconds).
Paint Sparkles Draw: My first colors HD
Developer: Kids Games Club
Compared with other apps, this isn't fancy. But herein lies the appeal of this app - the child is free to paint and draw whatever's on his or her mind, or do a free-form sketch of anything interesting or beautiful. No messy scribbles on tables or walls, and boredom will be a thing of the past.