As a teacher, I know how important early learning is and the value of reading, writing, drawing, and PLAYING together. Carter loves to use his imagination, do puzzles, read books, paint, build/create, etc.
However, like many kids his age, he also likes to use screens. So when he DOES get that screen time, I like to offer educational options. It was actually through typing on my computer just “playing” that I realized he could spell several words in addition to his name.
Carter is almost 4.5, so we’re primarily targeting alphabet and counting skills. Here are our favorite preschool learning apps.
I love this one because you get both reading and math for your money. Games, videos, digital books, phonics lessons, problem solving, and number skills are all present. If you aren’t sure where your kiddo should start, you can even do placement quiz. I was impressed watching Carter do the math one with how much he already knew!
As a teacher and parent, I like the reporting options on the website. I can see how many books he’s read, how many videos he’s watched, which lessons he’s completed, and how he’s progressing on his skills. This helps me know what to focus on next. There are also optional worksheets and resources you can print for offline use.
Click here to use my referral link for a 30 day free trial, and if you decide to keep it after that save $$ with the annual subscription vs monthly.
YouTube meets the library with animated books that feel more like videos. The words of each book are displayed on the screen, which I love for teaching reading naturally. There’s a huge variety of books and topics. Today we watched Physics Animated because Carter’s been talking about gravity a lot lately.
If you want to take Vooks to the next level, be sure to check out the RESOURCES section. There are lesson plans that give you ideas for extending the book, as well as some printables/worksheets.
For $5/month or $50/year, it’s a great price for unlimited books!
HOMER is packed with literacy activities and boasts that with just 15 minutes of practice per day, it’s is proven to increase reading scores by 74%. It’s very much play based! Carter moves along a learning path where lessons are unlocked one at a time. He’s practicing phonics, sight works, letter tracing, and memory skills. Similar to Vooks, they also have an animated story/book section.
I do have to watch him a little closer with HOMER because he tends to “just play” on some of the activities vs. doing actual lessons. For example, there are story scenes with drag-and-drop characters. He would spend all day just rearranging those cute little scenes. While this is for sure builds his imagination and story telling abilities, I like to make sure he’s doing other activities as well. 😉
There’s currently a back to school special for $45/year, but you can start with a free trial.
This was actually one of our first phonics apps and it does a really good job working on letter sounds. I like that it’s a one-time $5 app fee, or FREE on the computer. You’ll work through three levels: letters/sounds, words, and reading. While it doesn’t have all of the bells/whistles of the other apps, it does a solid job teaching phonics in short, focused activities.
I love this app! We have the PBS Kids app on our Apple TV, so we can watch all of Carter’s favorites anytime. This app is an extension of that, with many of our favorite characters. The Sesame Street ones are so cute! Kids can explore the town to learn about community jobs, visit the food truck to follow directions, etc. In the Daniel Tiger spot, kids can get the wiggles out by dancing with their friends. In Dino Flight, they practice fine motor and spacial skills.
While this one isn’t as structured with the lessons as the others, it’s still a solid option.
Screen Time Management
We manage Carter’s iPad screen time by setting daily time limits. Once his time is up, the apps all lock automatically. If he wants more time for any of the apps, he can send a request to my phone that I can approve or deny. This has been a great management tool for us because he knows his time is limited and uses it wisely. It also prevents the temptation to use his iPad all day. You can learn more about Screen Time here.