One of the things that we have struggled with a bit is the combination of not really knowing anyone, rain, and limited space so the children have been playing on the iPad quite a bit. I tend to be pretty picky about what I'm willing to let the children play and I know the quest for decent iPad apps for the under 5 set is eternal so I thought I would share our top 5 picks. FYI, Charlie is 6, Megan is 4, and Noah just turned 2.
First is anything by Shoe the Goose. We have cookie doodle and donut doodle and the children spend ages playing them. The children can pick from all sorts of dough, cookie cutters or types of donuts to decorate. Or, they can make them from scratch, cracking eggs, shaking salt, cutting butter and then baking or frying before making them lovely. Noah took a little while to get the hang of making them from scratch but can now do the whole process independently from start to finish. The older children caught on right away.
Another family favorite is Robot Lab by Toca Boca. The children build a robot and then fly it around a maze to collect stars. At the end of the maze, it's wisked away by a giant magnet. Noah does well with the robot building but the maze section is usually a joint effort between Noah and one of the older children. It's a great way to allow your children to play collaboratively.
Farm School and Earth School are both put out by Yateland games. Farm School is a great choice for under 3s- Noah loves it. It has a bunch of very simple matching and find the animal games. Earth School is better for slightly older children. Children play a series of games that progress from the big bang through the evolution of dinosaurs- FYI this isn't a great pick if you are a strict creationist.
Make Me Music by FeeFiFoFun is a simple app where the children can "play" all manner of instruments varying from digeridoos to pots and pans. It sounds like it would be misery on a parent's ears but it's not bad at all. The children can even save their compositions and send them off to their grandmother.
Finally, a tie in the least likely contender category. Both Spanish Cards by eFlash and Cula Caint are basic language flashcard apps. You would think they would be the dullest "games" ever but the children actually really like them. Spanish is, um, Spanish and Cula Caint is Irish. The first several times, Noah kept arguing with the iPad about what a "bus" or whatever was called but he eventually came around. The children pick a category (transportation is a favorite), touch the screen and a voice says the word in Spanish or Irish.