Kids these days are entering the world of technology earlier than ever before, and it isn't uncommon to have toddlers exploring various educational concepts via a screen. Not all toddler games and apps are created equally, and some games are more beneficial to tots than others. These free toddler games are big on learning and fun.
Free Toddler Games That Focus on Learning and Academics
A free app designed for toddlers that will address those basic academic skills is one all parents will want to download onto phones and iPads. It's hard to feel guilty about giving your young child screen time when they are actively learning so many key educational lessons.
Play PBS Kids
Toddlers accompany their favorite PBS characters on a learning journey that addresses everything from basic letter recognition to early mathematical concepts like learning shapes. While some components are geared for the preschool and early learning years, there is plenty on this app for toddlers to do.
First Words Sampler
First Words Sampler is such an engaging game, toddlers will forget that while playing it, they are also doing some serious learning. Understanding phonics serves as a foundational building block to more comprehensive and challenging literacy skills, so get a head start on the subject with this game-filled app.
Little Stars Toddler School
Your little star will quickly be on their way to the top of their class with this catchy app that is all about early education. Toddlers have a mission of finding the correct letter or shape, and when they master the skill, they earn a virtual sticker. Kids will grow confident in early literacy and beginning mathematical conceptual learning, and they will be more than willing to play if it means receiving a sticker. Everyone knows little kids love stickers.
Shapes, colors, and patterns oh my! Goodness Shapes encourage toddlers to work on sorting, matching, and identifying shapes through simple, interactive games. The visuals are not distracting or overwhelming, and the concepts are easy enough for toddlers as young as age two to independently interact with.
Free Toddler Games That Target Emotions and Well-Being
Learning for youngsters extends far beyond identifying letters, numbers, and shapes. Toddlers begin to explore human emotions, both their own, and the emotions of others. While it is certainly crucial to teach this component authentically, there are a few notable apps on the market that support children who are ready to begin learning this skill.
Peek-a-Zoo is a fun game for little kids that feels a bit like the iconic game of Guess Who? Different animals pop onto the screen and kids need to guess what the animal is. While plenty of introductory learning will take place regarding the animal kingdom, there is also a lot of social-emotional identification and association happening with the app. One game has kids identify the emotion that the animal is displaying based on the action it is performing. What a fun and creative way to help young children recognize common characteristics and traits of emotions.
Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame
You won't go wrong with a Sesame Street app because this popular program is totally synonymous with toddlers. Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame allows toddlers to help their little monster pal sort out his emotions, process his feelings and learn to calm down. Kids pop bubbles to guide their monster towards Zen, learn phrases associated with problem-solving and active emotional planning, and learn to breathe deeply when feeling distressed. The app includes a section just for parents working to navigate daily challenges associated with kids and emotions. Leave it to Sesame Workshop to solve emotional woes in youngsters.
Calm functions as a self-soothing app for all minds, including the minds of young, developing kids just learning to regulate their inner selves. Kids easily grasp beginner meditation skills that they can apply to stressful situations later on in life. The app includes a "sleep stories" function where kids fall asleep better and more easily through storytelling. There is also a section called Kids Calm, which is purely devoted to tranquil tots. The entire family can utilize this app because it includes a little something for every developmental stage. An app that applies to everyone and costs nothing is definitely worth looking into.
Creative Apps to Grow Little Minds
Little brains are wired for creativity and imagination. These free and fun apps aim to enhance artistic exploration and encourage your little Picasso to stretch their creativity as far as it will go, proving you don't always need paint and paper to be a budding artist.
Musical Me celebrates music for youngsters. Toddlers begin to learn about rhythm, notes, and pitch through this free, interactive app. Kids will stay engaged with Mozzarella the Mouse as he wanders through five various activities centered around the wonderful world of music.
Children's Doctor: Dentist
Kids get to be a dentist for the day to adorably animated animals in this app. While a visit to a real-life dentist can feel daunting to little kids, this app will help quell those anxious fears. Kids use their imaginations to treat animals virtually, while honing in on other important skills like fine motor skills and visual perception skills.
PicsArt for Kids
PicsArt encourages kids to scribble, draw and work with fun and goofy scenes that the app provides. They use shapes, simple images, colors, and more to create scenes they can be proud of. Older toddlers can fill shapes in with the touch of a finger, and the app will grow along with your child. As they become preschoolers and elementary-aged kids, they can still utilize this excellent drawing app and extend on illustration basics to make more intricate designs.
Toddlers need to move a lot. Parents might feel that games and apps deter youngsters from remaining active, but a few games and apps actually encourage tots to move, shake and engage in pretend movement and play. Go Noodle is a popular free app used by teachers and parents alike. It helps work in creative movement play to silly songs. If the choreography is over your toddler's head, that's okay, they can still jump around and work to get the wiggles out.
Toddlers and Screen Time
While these free games and apps are worth checking out, remember that with any aged child, screen-based learning is not a substitute for person to person or hands-on learning. Games and apps should supplement other methods of learning, especially when it comes to toddlers. Furthermore, be sure to gauge the screen time you allow your child. True, these games and apps have tons of value, but when it comes to kids and screens, you actually can have too much of a good thing. Work screen-centric activities into a child's schedule sparingly, and remember to balance their learning with other key modes of exploration and growth.