7 educational apps for kids to help with early learning

We’ve rounded up some of the best apps to help with early learning. By Amanda Kelly Stone

Love it or hate it, technology isn’t going anywhere. While the digital world comes with many downfalls, it also provides us with many benefits. Educational apps are one of these, revolutionising the way both parents and educational systems around the world teach children. When used correctly, and in combination with traditional mediums, they have the potential to be far more than distraction devices.

Educational apps are a great source of reinforcement with regard to learning and exploration, according to mom of two Joanne Peers, head of Inclusive Support at Pinelands North Primary School, who is currently completing her MEd in Primary Education at the University of Cape Town. Joanne believes that while technology shouldn’t become the primary source of learning – as learning has a strong link to relationships – it still provides educational benefits when used correctly.

“What apps offer is another mode of engaging with learning and meaning-making” she explains. “Technology has so much to offer when used correctly, especially when it’s an integrated part of children’s lives and learning rather than an isolated experience for the child. In other words, when a child is able to engage with an educational app in conjunction with the input of peers or family, this can add great value to experiential learning and discovery.”
So, to further help little ones make meaning of the world around them, here are a few of our favourite educational apps.

ALSO SEE: Pros and cons of technology for kids

Music & Creativity

Little Fox Music Box

Little Fox

Designed to help develop young right-brain capabilities, Little Fox Music Box encourages toddlers to be creative. The app takes the form of a sing-along book, featuring more than 100 interactive elements in three songs (London Bridge, Evening Song, and Old Mac Donald Had a Farm). The “little fox music studio” also enables kids to play their own music and record their own songs.
Designed for: Ages 2–6
Available on: iOs and Android
Cost: R39.99

Literacy

Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is an interactive app designed to help children learn the alphabet and grow their vocabulary. With the help of adorable monsters, interactive puzzles, talking letters and short animations, children enjoy the process of learning. There are also no high scores, failures, limits or stress, so kids are free to interact with the app at their own pace.
Designed for: Ages 2–6
Available on: iOS and Android
Cost: R139.99

Numeracy

Endless Numbers

Endless numbers

A follow-up to Endless Alphabet, Endless Numbers has been designed to foster early numeracy learning. The cute monsters teach children number recognition, sequencing, quantity, counting, numerical patterns, and simple addition. Interactive sequences and puzzles help children learn about each number, its context and its meaning.
Designed for: Ages 2–6
Available on: Android and iOS
Cost: Free

All-rounder

Xander

Xander

Xander is a locally developed range of apps that teach children various skills, but with a twist. Available in Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Swahili and Shona, they aim to empower South African children to learn in their mother tongue. The award-winning apps include themes like the school curriculum, which prepares young children for school in their own language.
The range includes ABC, 123, Wardrobe, Body Parts, Shapes & Colours, Animals, Fruit & Vegetables and Spelling, which support the development of skills such as sorting, matching, rhyming, literacy, numeracy, pattern recognition and problem-solving.
Designed for: App dependent (ranging from ages 1–5)
Available on: Android and iOS
Cost: App dependent (free-R24.99)

Nurturing And Responsibility

My Very Hungry Caterpillar

Hungry Catepillar

Eric Carle’s much-loved character, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has been brought to life in this stunning 3D interactive app. Children are encouraged to have fun playing with, and caring for, their own caterpillar. Players can hatch the caterpillar from an egg, feed him and put him to sleep at night, then engage in exciting activities like growing flowers and fruit in a magical 3D garden. My Very Hungry Caterpillar grows bigger and bigger, until he changes into a beautiful butterfly. A new egg is then laid and the adventure begins again. The app aims to develop nurturing with non-competitive individualised play.
Designed for: Ages 2–6
Available on: Android and iOS
Cost: R59.99 on iOS and free on Android

Problem-Solving & Shape Recognition

Tozzle

Tozzle

Offering a balance between entertainment and education, the Tozzle concept is based on classic wooden jigsaw puzzles. The Tozzle puzzle designs range from animals and shapes, to letters of the alphabet. The puzzles start with large, simple shapes and increase in difficulty. The games does, however, provide players with clues if they seem to be struggling, and rewards patience. There are more than 40 different puzzles, all including funny sound effects.
Designed for: Ages 2–99 (The developers have a sense of humour.)
Available on: iOS
Cost: App dependent (free to R49.99)

Social Intelligence

Peek-A-Zoo By Duck Duck Moose

Peek-a-Zoo

In Peek-a-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose, children are required to look at various cartoon animals and indicate which characters are demonstrating a certain trait or behaviour. Questions asked include “Who is crying?”, “Who is surprised?”, and “Who is angry?”. The app helps children to learn and recognise social cues and teaches them about animals, actions, and sounds.
Designed for: Ages 2–5
Available on: iOS
Cost: Free

Choosing the right app for your child

Consider the following before hitting download:

  1. Select games that are developmentally appropriate and engaging.
  2. Kids tend to imitate what they see in the media, so make sure the characters, their language, and their behaviour is something you’d be comfortable with coming from your own children. Only download apps from trusted, reliable sources.
  3. Beware of in-app purchases. Many “free” apps (sometimes labelled “lite”) feature these. Some are enjoyable, while others prove frustrating if children can’t purchase the elements needed.
  4. Watch out for sharing features. App developers are increasingly allowing kids to interact with others online. It’s best to avoid these apps if you aren’t comfortable with this. l&l
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