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Entertaining toddlers can be an arduous task. Their needs change constantly — they get bored with what they are playing with and look for something different all the time. Toys, flashcards, and storybooks are helpful — but with the gizmo burst these days, they notice our flashy smartphones and tabs and can’t wait to lay hands on them.
Gadgets are also an excellent means of entertaining kids when travelling in cars, trains or flights for long hours. Countless apps have made their way into the market and continue making inroads owing to the huge demand. Here is a quick list of the popular free apps that can be downloaded onto your gadget.
Not only do they serve as a means of entertainment or distraction, they are educational tools that teach toddlers with their colourful animations and informative voice-overs.
Talking Tom Cat 2
This is one app that features in all our phones, irrespective of our age. The friendly feline appears smiling on your screen and repeats almost everything you say. Only with a funnier voice, this time.
With upgraded versions and new releases, there are many more options now. Kids will surely enjoy poking him, spinning his tail and rubbing his tummy.
From my toddler’s experience, I would rate this as the most child-friendly. The famous Fisher-Price Puppy and its friends, including its little Sister, Monkey and the Froggy, sing out rhymes and tell stories that enthral kids. In addition to the rhymes, there are many other options such as teaching alphabets, colours, shapes and numbers.
Under the Fisher-Price brand, there are many free apps for download that would prove very useful when teaching kids. The animations used in the app are bright and colourful and kids enjoy Puppy and his friends giggling. The rhymes and videos under the ‘Laugh & Learn’ tag available online are also great tools to help your kid laugh and learn at the same time. Cute rhymes that teach basic stuff, with constant repetitions, are a big hit with children.
My First Words
This is well-made and simple. With many categories to choose from, such as Animals, Food, Colour and Shapes, it serves as a useful tool to teach toddlers. Each animal described has a voice-over pronouncing its name and a bright picture to catch the baby’s eye and also an option to hear the sound of the animal.
There is also an option through which flashcards from all categories make their way. Kids laugh and talk along when they see animals/things they are familiar with.
With settings to adjust the volume, font and choose the slideshow, this is a useful app that might amuse kids.
Some kids, like mine, get too familiar with your phone and know the exact options to come out of an app when they get bored. They press the home button, open other essential apps, send a message to your friends and even make calls when not needed. To get them to stay within the app is an ordeal by itself.
Toddler Lock is one useful app; though not very educational, it keeps your child at bay when they are bored. The screen is frozen and the user can’t close the app.
You need to tap the four corners of the screen clockwise as password to exit it. A black screen will appear, and out of curiosity, your little one will immediately start touching the screen. As they press, little colourful doodles appear on the screen with chimes in the background. They are a quick way to silence your crying toddler or to keep them occupied for a short while.
LEGO Duplo Apps
The pioneer of toddler building blocks is here with interesting apps that will help engage kids. LEGO Duplo has come up with apps such as Forest, Train, Ice Cream, Circus and Food, wherein a story is explained in motion and the user has to build the blocks and take part in the story.
Kids might take a while to grasp this, but those familiar with LEGO Blocks will find it easy. The animations and music are in sync with the other toddler apps.
There are many more apps available in the market. Take your time to read their reviews, download it and use it first-hand before handing it over to the kids. There are many videos available on YouTube for kids as well.
Most famous among them are the Appu Series Rhymes. Simple animations describe the popular rhymes and are sung in a manner such that the kids can sing along. Fisher-Price has many rhymes that are available on the Internet. Baby Einstein is a series of videos that teaches kids numbers, alphabets, shapes, etc. using puppets.
In addition to the above, there are regional videos such as Chellame Chellam (Tamil) where popular Tamil rhymes are taught with animations.
Make sure you sit with your kid and enjoy these videos/apps than just switching it on and moving aside.
They learn much faster when we sit beside them and encourage them.
- this article was written by me for The Hindu