As parents in today’s digitally-driven world, it can sometimes be pretty daunting trying to find content and activities that are suitable for your kids. Obviously, you don’t want to shelter them from any exposure to modern technology, but at the same time, you want to be sure that the content your kids are interacting with is something that will actually be beneficial to them.
Luckily, there are a ton of educational apps aimed at young kids that can be accessed if you have a computer or any mobile device. You can find apps intended to help your kids read and write, learn about important concepts and routines, and learn about science, nature, or other topics that kids might be interested in.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at several of the best educational apps for toddlers and young children. We’ll give you a basic overview of the features of each app and why these apps are good for your toddler from an educational perspective.
PBS Kids Apps
PBS Kids is the kid-oriented arm of PBS that is responsible for broadcasting children’s TV shows. And with names like Arthur, The Magic School Bus, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Sesame Street in their roster, PBS is clearly one of the mainstays in children’s entertainment.
In the digital age, PBS remains relevant by offering a wide selection of fun and educational apps featuring characters from contemporary PBS Kids shows. Let’s briefly go over a few of the apps available through PBS Kids to show you what kind of variety they offer.
Wild Kratts Rescue Run
If your toddler loves animals and loves learning about them, then they’ll be sure to enjoy playing with the Wild Kratts Rescue Run app.
Featuring Martin, Chris, and Aviva from the Wild Kratts animated series, this app contains 24 levels depicting three different environments; the South American rainforest, the Australian outback, and the forests of North America. The gameplay will have your kids navigating the player character through each level, avoiding obstacles, and rescuing various animals. For each new animal your kids find, they unlock a new fun fact about that animal.
This app also features adjustable difficulty options to make it easier and more accessible for kids of all skill levels to play. It’s a great app that combines fun, engaging gameplay with interesting educational content.
Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night
If you’re trying to teach your toddler about the importance of daily and nightly routines, then Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night is an excellent app for such a purpose. Featuring Daniel Tiger, the animated son of the original Daniel Striped Tiger puppet from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this app contains eight minigames and sing-along songs to help acquaint your toddler with some basic daily routines for before school and before bed.
Along with Daniel Tiger, your toddler will learn about getting dressed each morning, getting ready for breakfast, brushing their teeth, and tying their shoes. They’ll also help Daniel take a bath in the evening, brush his teeth, choose pajamas to wear, and finally end the night with a relaxing bedtime story from mom.
The app also comes with a built-in timer for each minigame to ensure that your toddler stays on task while helping Daniel Tiger with each activity. Overall, this is a very solid app for teaching your toddler about the importance of daily routines.
Super Why! Power to Read
Like the title implies, this app is all about helping your toddler develop their literacy skills. This app comes with four games featuring the four main characters from the show Super Why!, and through playing each of the games, your child will be able to familiarize themselves with the alphabet, letter sounds and letter writing, rhyming words, and even reading entire sentences on their own.
As your child completes more activities, they unlock digital Super Why! stickers, which they can then use to create their own personalized storybook pages. This is great for giving your kids an incentive to complete the activities on their own, rather than simply for their own sake.
Lego Duplo Connected Train
The Lego Duplo Connected Train app is most suited for younger toddlers, from age 1-1/2 and up. This app is completely free to download and offers no in-app purchases, so it’s a great worry-free app that you can use to entertain your kids with, as you don’t have to worry about them accidentally (or intentionally) making a bunch of unwanted in-app purchases without your consent.
This app also contains no third-party advertising and no links to external sites, meaning that the Connected Train app is about as safe for young children as it gets.
In this app, your toddler gets to take the controls of the Lego Duplo train and take it for a ride. Your kids can control the speed of the train and blow the horn whenever they want, which should be plenty entertaining for many kids on its own.
But you can do even more than that; you can lay down new tracks to drive on, build bridges, refuel the train, and more. The Connected Train app contains a bunch of simple, fun activities for your toddler to complete as they ride around with the conductor.
By completing activities, your child can also collect digital stickers that they can freely place within the Connected Train landscape. This lets your child design their own unique background that they’ll see as they drive the train along.
We enjoy this app because it’s a simple and appealing way to introduce your toddler to the digital world, and it’s also a basic teaching tool for very young toddlers. Through this app, your toddler will learn about numbers, colors, and shapes, and they’ll also have an opportunity to improve their fine motor skills by completing the various activities.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
The Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a collection of simple, educational games presented by the cute and friendly Milo the monkey. Through these games, your toddler will help Milo pack his lunchbox and also learn basic skills.
The seven games included in this app will help your toddler learn about topics like colors, matching, counting, spelling, and more.
For example, your toddler might have to help Milo pick fruit of a certain color, fill up Milo’s lunchbox with the correct number of fruit, picking fruit that begins with a certain letter, spotting the differences between two similar pieces of fruit, or identifying correctly between various shapes.
Milo also gives indications as to whether your child has completed an activity successfully. If they have, then he’ll clap his hands or do a flip of joy. Otherwise, he shakes his head.
As is common with many educational games aimed at toddlers, your toddler is rewarded for completing activities with digital stickers they can collect. There’s no way to “beat” the game of Monkey Preschool Lunchbox; when your toddler completes all of the activities, the app cycles back to the first game, and it starts all over. For toddlers, however, there’s still enough variation within this app to keep the games interesting and stop them from becoming too repetitive.
While the games themselves don’t have a ton of depth to them, they’re still engaging enough for most toddlers, and the games do teach essential skills that all kids need to know for proper social development.
Originator Inc.’s Endless Apps
Originator Inc. is a developer of educational apps for kids. Founded in 2013, Originator has since created and published a variety of successful and well-reviewed apps. Let’s check out a few of their more popular ones.
Perhaps the only downside to Originator’s Endless apps is that while all the apps are initially free to buy, some of them require additional in-app purchases to access all of the content available for that particular app. Obviously, this is a downside because it means you have to pay extra if you want to get the full experience from each app.
The Endless Numbers app is a great way to help your child develop their numeracy at an early age. Along with the Endless monsters, your toddler will learn about simple mathematical concepts like sequences, quantity, and number recognition.
The app includes numbers 1-5 for free, and numbers 6-100 are available for an additional purchase. Your child learns about individual numbers through interactive puzzles and short animations that provide each number with proper meaning and context.
There are no time limits, high scores, or ways to “fail” any of the puzzles in the Endless Numbers app; this app is all about helping your toddler learn comfortably at their own pace.
The Endless Alphabet app will help your kids develop the fundamentals of reading and writing. It contains over 70 words for your toddler to learn, and the app also teaches how to spell each of these words as well.
This app also includes colorful animations that go along with each word to help explain the definition of the word in a way that young children can understand.
And this app doesn’t just focus on simple words like “cat,” “eye,” or other standard three-letter words; your toddler will learn the definition of words like “contraption,” “decorate,” “gargantuan,” and more. You may be pleasantly surprised at what words your toddler picks up after playing Endless Alphabet for a while!
This app was released as a follow-up to the Endless Alphabet app we just mentioned. The Endless Reader app builds on the skills that your toddler will have learned from using the Endless Alphabet app and introduces new activities to help them grow even further.
The Endless Reader app focuses on introducing your toddler to “sight words,” which are words that children should be able to read without having to sound out each letter. Sight words are among the most common words in the English language, and your toddler will often encounter sight words when at school, in the library, or reading a book.
That’s why it’s important that your toddler is able to recognize and correctly identify sight words. Plus, many common sight words are either spelled unusually, hard to depict visually, or have an unorthodox pronunciation, so being able to read sight words simply by looking at them is an essential skill to have.
The Endless Reader app makes learning about sight words engaging for toddlers. Your toddler will first have to complete an interactive game to spell the sight word, and then a second interactive game where they must use that word in a sentence.
The words are animated and become what they describe to reinforce their definition in your toddler’s mind; for example, the word “dog” turns into a barking dog when it is placed correctly in a sentence.
This app’s word puzzles use only lower-case letters to help familiarize your toddler with writing words as they’re normally depicted in written text. And as is the case with all other apps from Originator, there are no time limits, high scores, or anything to stress your toddler out and disrupt them from learning at their own pace.
Bugs and Buttons
Bugs and Buttons is another app that holds a collection of educational minigames. In this instance, your toddler will have 18 unique games to play, which focus on helping your toddler recognize and identify colors, letters, numbers, and patterns. Some of the games included in Bugs and Buttons will also help your toddler develop their fine motor skills as well as their ability to predict certain outcomes based on their prior knowledge.
One thing to note about this game is that it features realistic depictions of insects crawling over your device’s screen. This may be disturbing and frightening to some children who have a fear of insects, although it may also help your toddler become more comfortable around certain insects; just bear in mind that it could go either way before you purchase this app.
The app disables some of the creepier bugs by default, like cockroaches and spiders, but you can enable these bugs if you feel as though your toddler has enough resilience to handle seeing them.
As for what activities your toddler can do in Bugs and Buttons, there’s a lot of variety. Your toddler can play sorting games, matching games, counting games, games about finding patterns, and games about completing letter sequences. They can also play a racing game, a slingshot game, a tic-tac-toe game, a maze-solving game, and a connect-the-dots game, among others.
Every game features an animated tutorial explaining what the game is and how it is played. By completing games, your toddler earns digital stamps, which they can add to a digital stamp collection as a measure of how much they’ve achieved.
Extra Content: Children Learning Reading
Before we conclude this article, we’d like to recommend an additional resource that you might find interesting. If you’re particularly interested in helping your child develop their reading skills from an early age, then the Children Learning Reading program may be something you’d consider investing in.
This program was designed for children between the ages of 2 and 7, and for their parents. Any child can benefit from the Children Learning Reading program, as long as they’re old enough to have a reasonable degree of skill at speaking.
The Children Learning Reading program is designed to help your children develop phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to use individual phonemes in speech correctly. Phonemes are the smallest, most basic units of sound that are combined to create different words with different meanings.
The program is made up of two stages, one designed to help your child develop their most basic reading skills, and a second stage that pushes your child to use those skills and helps them build upon their existing reading skills to become even better.
Each stage is made up of multiple step-by-step lessons that your child can follow along with, and each stage also includes an instructional booklet for you as a parent to use if you need to assist your child. The lessons are intended to be short and easy to complete; at most, your child should be able to complete each lesson in about 10 minutes.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Children Learning Reading program and how it works, you can find everything you want to know about the Children Learning Reading program here.
If you want your toddler’s screen time to be wholesome, educational, and fun, then you should definitely consider downloading one or more of these apps. There’s a huge variety of educational apps for toddlers, which will help teach them a variety of things. You can find apps to teach your toddler reading and spelling skills, basic routines, colors, shapes, and much more.
While some of these apps are paid, they aren’t usually very expensive, and some of the apps we’ve mentioned today are completely free. This means that there’s nothing stopping you from trying out several of these apps if you want.
Truthfully, this article only briefly touches on the huge variety of educational apps that exists. There are tons of other great educational apps for toddlers out there; our goal today is merely to give you a basic idea of what’s currently available.