A couple of years ago, the idea of handing your shiny new smartphone over to a child would have seemed on a par with feeding the contents of your wallet into the nearest open sewer. However, times change, technology becomes cheaper, and the market for kid’s apps is now booming. With a little (read: a lot of) supervision, your child can build a rocket-ship; fly across the galactic disc at near light speed; learn to program or create amusical masterpiece. The thrillseekers at Thorpe Breaks have outlined below the best educational apps to teach and entertain your kids; and just maybe, makeyou wish there were smartphones around when you were young:
Rocket Math – (iPhone/iPad – $0.99)
Answer maths questions to earn money then use your well-earned hoard to build and launch a rocket-ship across the stars! The fun really begins when you enter deep space, challenging your child to solve a host of intergalactic sums to keep exploring. With bright, colourful graphics, a sensible difficulty setting and a retro 1950’s feel (cheeky references abound), Rocket Math strikes that rare perfect balance between learning aid and video game.
For the little ones. Aniworld presents children with an adorable picture of an everyday animal, asks them to name it, feed it and learn a little about it, before allowing them to pet ituntil love hearts shoot out and the creature pulls a silly face. Combining the best of a day out in the country, minus the squalls, cowpats, mud and plus daft graphics, this free app is a little winner.
Morton Subotnick’s Pitch Painter – (iPad – $2.99)
Want to unlock the creative genius in your child? This nifty little app transforms your digital paint-strokes into music, allowing kids to essentially build two masterpieces at once. Although designed to stimulate a child’s creativity, this one is just as likely to be used by parents trying to channel their inner Da Vinci.
Move the Turtle – (iPhone/iPad – $2.99)
Unsold on the benefits of musical painting? Rather see your child in Silicon Valley than playing the Sydney Opera House? This app features a cartoon turtle that will teach your five-year old to program. Give it as a gift, and before long you could be picking up the next Steve Jobs from school.
Exoplanet – (iPhone/iPad – $2.99)
For the budding Cosmologist in the family, Exoplanet features an interactive map of all known ‘exoplanets’ (planets beyond our solar system) in the galaxy. Kids can favourite planets, travel across the galactic disc at the speed of light, and search for possible ‘life-supporting’ planets. The app is regularly updated to include cutting edge scientific discoveries and comes with a wealth of detailed, easy-to-understand information on the cosmos. A bit heavy for the younger ones, over 8sshould love it.
Cat in the Hat Reading App – (iPad/iPhone/Android – Free)
Perhaps the most-beloved children’s book of all time is given the interactive treatment, as kids progress the story through simple picture/word association games. Throw in a barnstorming narrator and graphics that stay true to the original illustrations and you have the most entertaining piece of children’s literature since Dr Seuss first put pen to paper.
Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box – (iPad/iPhone/Android – $1.99)
Designed for kids with autism, this app encourages users to make simple, colourful connections with sounds, images and ethereal animations. Although intended for a specialist market, it has great crossover potential, with the simple interface and dream-like images proving utterly hypnotic to children of all abilities.
Connect the numbers or letters that correspond to a sequence to unlock a colourful picture. Simple, bright, cheap and good for teaching younger kids simple associations, Kids Connect is learning straight out the heyday of BBC Preschool. A charmer.
Oliver Mason is a technology expert who works for Thorpe Breaks; check them out for great offers and deals on family fun.