Preschoolers’ (kids ages 3-5) brains are primed for learning through the five early learning activities: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing. Per research in The Roots of STEM Success, children in this age group tend to “ask an average of 76 information seeking questions per hour.” As their child’s first and most important teachers, parents maximize this learning when co-viewing—meaning sharing and interacting with media, and utilizing the early learning activities in interactions around apps, tech toys and any new media. This is why early childhood development experts recommend caregivers “talk, sing, read, write and play” with children every day.
While very young children learn best from real world interactions, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its guidelines for using technology as a learning method for children. AAP strongly recommends that parents choose high-quality programming that creates interaction. Screen time is not recommended for children under 2 in most circumstances. Exceptions can include using technology to communicate, like Skype. There may be different recommendations do not apply when technology is used for accessibility. AAP provides a handy resource guide and a resource to customize your family’s media use plan. Librarians can serve as media mentors for families by suggesting apps and media use tools. We rely on policy and research for these selections, but also respect the interests of the youth in our spaces. Here are a few of our favorite apps for little learners, along with some tips and activities to support early literacy.
These are some of the Library’s favorite apps for fun and learning with preschool age children! When used with an adult along with conversation and play these apps can support early literacy skills.
An augmented reality app that uses your device’s camera to show how animals see the world. There are eleven animal vision “filters” included in the app and you can also see what a newborn baby’s vision is like up to 6 months old. This app encourages children to see the world through different eyes, and opens up conversations about animals and their unique biology.
Free (iOS and Android)
Inspired by the beloved Latino nursery rhyme “Los Pollitos Dicen” (Little Chicks Say), these little chicks peep and sing “pío pío pío” throughout a variety of creative play experiences that expose your little ones to music, language and creativity. The song can be played in eight languages and children can make their own music with a simulated guitar and with percussion instruments.
Design scenes, dress up characters and let your imagination soar as you invent your own stories with Felt Board. Especially designed for imaginative play, storytelling and learning, Felt Board is perfect for children, families and teachers. Let children design their own felt boards to reflect a book or story they’ve already read, or encourage them to make up their own story!
Brought to you by Joyce Hesselberth, author and illustrator of the children’s books Shape Shift and Mapping Sam. Each animated puzzle hides up to 20 shapes, teaching your circles, diamonds, ovals, rectangles, semicircles, squares, trapezoids, and triangles. Try playing a game of hide and seek while using this app with your child!
Loopimal is a deceivingly simple app for children. Learners will discover making patterns with sound and movement. The characters are funny animal illustrations who soothingly move along to musical beats. This app is great for promoting pre-coding skills through programming the sequences and playing with patterns. Loopimal is my personal favorite app for this age group, joined by Yatatoy’s other fantastic apps, Bandimal; Miximal; Drawnimal.
PBS Parents Play and Learn by PBS Kids
Free (iOS and Android)
Like books for this age group, apps promote learning best when shared with an adult who can ask or answer questions and scaffold use. The PBS Parent Play and Learn app provides fun games and media to promote literacy and learning. In addition to the engaging content many kids will recognize, PBS embeds tips and tricks to support a shared experience during screen time.
$2.99 (iOS and Android)
Blue Hat, Green Hat – Boynton is an interactive adaptation of Sandra Boynton’s board book of the same name. The simple, short story helps to reinforce color vocabulary, and it offers children a chance to “correct” the turkey who can’t seem to put clothes on the right way! With funny animations, and options for the book to be read aloud or read independently, this is a great example of an interactive, but story focused e-book.
Daniel Tiger’s Storybooks by PBS Kids
$2.99 (iOS and Android)
Daniel Tiger’s irresistible charm comes through in five interactive e-books included in this storybook app. Adults and children can read along with tips embedded in the content to help parents engage with the text. Check out the Library for more Daniel Tiger books and materials. Daniel has even made a celebrity appearance on an episode to our Main library location!