iApps for Kids

On our recent trip to Indiana and back, we carried with us two devices that were dedicated for our daughter’s use: a Leapster and an iPod video. The Leapster had a range of, hopefully educational, games for her to play and the iPod contained a dozen episodes of [_Fetch with Ruff Ruffman_][frr], one of the [PBS Kids][pbs] shows she likes to watch and that we think has substance.

At one point during the trip, Yung was in the back of the car with Lily and they were playing the Leapster’s version of *I Spy* and Yung kept commenting on how hard it was to see the screen. Indeed, I have looked at the screen of the thing, and I don’t know if it began life brighter, but it is now a dim thing.

“Why not,” I wondered, “go with a better screen and with a device that is more flexible as she grows up?” The Leapster is going to fade in relevance at some point soon, and its maker will want us to buy the next device in the line-up, much as we moved from the Leap-Pad to the Leapster.

And did I mention the cartridges are expensive? Approximately $25 per cartridge for a limited set of new features/games.

Add in the better, bigger screen of an iPod Touch for watching videos, and suddenly it just seemed like the right thing to do.

A quick search of educational apps for kids turned up the following results:

* For $11.99, iPhone owners can download *Starmap*, a “pocket planetarium” that helps users easily find constellations, planets, or shooting-star zones.
* *Flash My Brain Flashcards* and *StudyCards*, both costing $9.99, allow users to create their own flash cards.
* *Lexicon* ($9.99) is an animated flash-card application designed to help users learn more than 70 languages. Users can quiz themselves and record and play back audio on their iPhone to hear how they’re progressing with the language.
* The *Atom in a Box* application is a tool to help users visualize atomic orbitals, showing what the hydrogen atom looks like in three animated dimensions for $9.99.
* There is also a [Maps of the World][mow] application that has 20 historical maps in it.
* [I See Ewe][ise], described as “an educational game for the iPhone and iPod Touch that helps your preschooler learn to recognize shapes, objects, colors and animals and to learn their first sight words through two simple yet engaging games” sounds a little too little for Lily, but might be useful for someone else.
* There are several math apps, most starting at age 7 (*PopMath*, *Basic Math*), but some at age 3 (*Cute Math*, *Dotty Shapes*) as well as one enigmatically titled miTables Lite.
* There is a *Memory Match Kids* game.
* Something called *Pre-School Adventure* that Dad-o-Matic loves.

The *New York Times* has their own [listing][nyt].

*Wired* recommends: *Wordex*, *The Secret Garden*, *Shape Builder*, and for adults *Shadows Never Sleep* and *Knots*.

The “Travel Savvy Mom” blog has [a few suggestions][tsm].

**Update**: To some degree, the listing from _AcadianaMoms_ got this ball rolling, and so I would be derelict in my note taking if I didn’t include a few apps that came from their page:

* *Shape Builder Lite* got Lily’s attention right away, and she burned through the sample shapes in no time.
* *Trace* is a lovely basic side level game, but it requires a bit more than Lily could process when I showed it to her. (The player can trace bridges and ramps to get your little guy where he needs to go.)
* Finally, there is *Eliss* which is described as a “puzzler set in space where supernovas and vortexes are the norm” — er, shouldn’t that be *supernovae* and/or *vortices* — “as the screen fills with newly formed colored planets you must work to keep different colors apart while combining like-colored circles.” Eh, sounds a bit complicated, but its space theme may appeal to the Bean.

[frr]: http://pbskids.org/fetch/index.html
[pbs]: http://pbskids.org/
[mow]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=303282377&mt=8
[ise]: http://www.claireware.com/iseeewe/
[nyt]: http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/the-best-iphone-apps-for-kids/
[tsm]: http://www.travelsavvymom.com/blog/family-travel/top-iphone-apps-for-kids/

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