One of the best toys I had for my kids was Professor Owl, a talking owl that taught them the alphabet. Sadly, Professor Owl stopped working a few years ago and we've never been able to find a good replacement.
Instead of continuing to buy cheap learning toys that break, my husband and I decided to use an iPad or an iPod touch filled with educational apps for our younger ones. In an earlier post, I listed five apps for the pre-school group. Now, I will list five of my favorite apps appropriate for toddlers (18 months to three-years-old). If you have any recommendations, please add them in the comments.
Wood Puzzle (US$1.99)
Wood Puzzle is a chunky puzzle game for toddlers. It has several different puzzles, each with six to ten pieces. The puzzles are colorful and have objects that appeal to kids like a train, princess and frog. Just like a traditional wood puzzle, your child grabs the pieces and places them in the right spot using a single finger or two fingers if they have enough dexterity. There's also an automatic mode that'll solve the puzzle for your child and animate the solution.
Scratch a Sketch ($0.99)
Scratch a Sketch is a unique toddler games which has a colorful kids picture covered by a layer of black. As the child touches the screen, the black is erased, revealing the image underneath. It's fun for the toddlers who enjoy seeing the picture pop out at them and entertaining for the under-two set who can randomly wipe the tablet screen and gradually see the picture.
Barnyard Games for Kids (Free; $1.99 in-app purchase)
Barnyard Games for Kids is a series of mini-games that's perfect for kids four and under. It has bright colorful images and catchy sounds that'll attract your child's attention and hold it. It's more than just farm animals and sounds. Barnyard Games for Kids has games that'll teach your child his or her shapes and colors, alphabet, and numbers. The app includes two free games for free and a $1.99 in-app purchase unlocks the rest.
Little Sky Writers ($1.99)
Little Sky Writers is an alphabet app that teaches children how to write their letters. It uses an airplane that sky writes each way through each letter. It's easy for your child to trace along and my kids just love the airplane theme. There's even a control tower voice that helps your child learn the sound and usage of each letter.
What child doesn't love Thomas the Tank Engine? Both my boys and my girls have enjoyed the Thomas and Friends animated series. That's why I had to buy the Thomas & Friends: Engine Activities when I spotted it in the App Store. The app includes three coloring sheets, three animated puzzles, and three collectible engine cards from Pop Goes Thomas and three of each from Creaky Cranky. There's also a matching game that uses the engine cards that your child has collected. When your child has exhausted the content in the app, you can buy additional activity packs for 99-cents each.