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12 Best iPhone Apps For Preschoolers That Make The Most Of Screen Time

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Screens. Love 'em or hate 'em, in times of uncertainty, they're an inevitable part of your preschooler's life. Sometimes mommy and daddy just need a second to get something done and, as much as we hate to admit it, a screen can be an easy distraction. But you don’t have to let your kids watch garbage on your phone just so you can grab a moment to shoot off an email. These 12 iPhone apps for preschoolers are actually worth your kid's time, not a waste of it.

The first thing to look for when choosing preschool-appropriate apps is a learning component. For instance, apps that go beyond clever graphics to include a math, reading, or critical thinking element. Second, it's worth finding apps that have been endorsed by early childhood educators. Remember, these people and organizations are on the front lines and in the classrooms with small children. They’ve studied how they learn best and understand how their brains work. And third, search out apps your little one will be able to navigate easily. Some claim to be kid-friendly, but all their activities require a level of motor skill development the average preschooler has not yet achieved. If you’re truly going to be able to let them use the app independently, then they’ll need to be able to operate the phone and click through the application on their own.

1. PBSKids

If the idea of letting your children watch endless hours of unboxing videos on YouTube sends shivers down your spine, download PBSKids instead. This app features all of your favorite PBS programming, like Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, and more. But perhaps the best part is the format of the app itself. With bright primary colors and easy-to-navigate controls, your kids will have no trouble exploring it on their own. The app is free and available in the Apple App Store.

2. PBS Games

Like PBS Kids, PBS Games takes an educational approach. The app uses PBS children’s programs and turns them into games. For instance, the Daniel Tiger game has a Hide and Seek game, a dress up game, and a Spin and Sing game. Also like PBSKids, the app is free and available in the Apple App Store.

3. Epic

Many apps claim to be digital libraries, but for preschoolers, none are better than the Epic app. Filled with 40,000 ebooks appropriate for ages 12 and under, the $8/month investment allows your child to be read to from tons of classic stories (download it here). Also, it's worth noting that Epic is free for elementary school teachers and school librarians worldwide, so if you know a nice teacher, they might be willing to share their login.

4. Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night

Helping children understand time is a challenge than can last well beyond preschool age. (Even beyond high school for some of us.) To help your child better comprehend time, download Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night. This $3 app, available in the Apple App Store, includes 8 games that are all about day and night routines. In the morning, kids can help Daniel Tiger get dressed and ready for the day. At night they can help him brush his teeth before bed.

5. Curious World

Curious World features none other than our favorite monkey, George. This app — which you can snag for free in the Apple App Store — received a four star teacher review on the educationalappstore.com website, and that’s thanks to its combination of both online games and outside activity suggestions, like crafts kids can do when they log off.

6. Reading Raven

Reading Raven’s elevator pitch is simple: Reading is more fun when it’s an adventure. In this app, preschoolers participate in 11 different games and activities designed to take them from pre-reading to fully comprehending sentences. The best part is that kids can go at their own pace, pausing to return to activities as they like. Reading Raven will cost you $2 and can be downloaded via Apple App Store.

7. Dr. Panda Farm

Don’t have time to go strawberry picking this spring? Bring the farm to your kids with Dr. Panda Farm. With this app, children join Dr. Panda as he tends his crops with six farming activities. Priced at $4 on the Apple App Store, it comes with the assurance that kids won’t be subjected to any third party advertisements.

8. Color Quest

Color Quest rolls fruits and vegetables and coloring into one big activity. As the App Store describes it, you can “Color your favorite character, press the magic button, read a fun health fact, and see your new creation come to life and dance in front of you in augmented reality.” You can also save and share your illustrations.

9. My Very Hungry Caterpillar

What kid hasn’t heard the story of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," after all? Available for $6 on the Apple App Store, they can drag fruits and snacks to the squirmy children’s book character as he eats up his favorite snacks. Then, when that’s done, they can take him on a trip across a pond, grow him more fruit, or help him chase a ball.

10. Reading Eggs

Designed for ages two to 13, Reading Eggs makes reading fun by turning it into a game with lessons, activities, songs, e-books and those all important rewards. The first month is free. After that it costs $10 a month and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

11. LetterSchool

Learning to write is an essential skill for early childhood development success. But if your child can’t seem to focus with just a pen and paper, try LetterSchool, free in the Apple App Store. This app won the Winner of National Parenting Product Awards 2018 from NAPPA Awards and teaches kids both block letters and cursive in lowercase and uppercase, a great option to help your kids get a jump on kindergarten.

12. ABCmouse

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, ABCmouse is a great app for preschoolers. Why? Well, it was designed to meet Common Core State Standards which are evidence based grade level expectations designed to help kids prepare for college and life. And it’s just really fun and cute. The app provides dozens of games that include spelling and counting activities that, if the child achieves certain goals, allows them to go shopping for items to decorate their “room” with. A subscription on ABCMouse.com costs $10/month ($80/year) and you can download it here.