Apps for kids are a life saver in doctor's offices, specially. I love that the kids can sit on my lap, or share the iPhone in the stroller and NOT touch all of the germ ridden toys and chairs and walls in the doctor's office. They are also a great distraction for kids while they are, say, getting a biopsy done :) (As you may be able to tell, we've been in the docs quite a bit recently). My criteria is generally: 1. It has to be aesthetically pleasing and interesting (there are some hideous apps out there) & incorporate sounds that I am able to hear 2,371 times without wanting to pull my hair out, 2. It has to bear repeat playing, 3. It has to be pretty low-fi (kind of contradictory criteria for talking about iPhone apps, but I mean--not things that are just "catchy"or video gamey, or trite: things that encourage old fashioned kind of play, not just mindless distraction). Here are our favorites:
...in no particular order...
This developer has really cute graphics, and really fun games. (Some of the games are redundant--monster kitchen is the same thing as kitchen, just with monsters--so choose before you buy!). Our favorites are Toca Kitchen, Toca Tea Party, Toca House, and Toca Doctor.
My two year olds can already manipulate this one, and love the motions and sounds that each of the letters activates.
Start with one of 15 or so recipes, and mix the dough (adding each ingredient--cutting in butter, shaking in salt, dripping in vanilla, etc.), cut out the cookie shape, bake, ice... and eat! After two years, this one has not gotten "old" yet.
This is a classic matching game, played just the way you would with real cards. You can choose the number of players and cards displayed.
Plic, Ploc, Wiz:
Create funny illustrations using objects and lines.
PreSchool Adventure Island:
This includes probably the most games (all educational--alphabet building, counting), with lots of variety.
PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit and PopOut! The Night Before Christmas... well, really everything by this developer. These classic stories are presented with their original illustrations--with a twist. You can help collect blackberries with the good bunnies or tickle the sugar plum fairies. These are delightfully slow and "low tech" (for being so sophisticated). They have now added several Sandra Boynton books to their repertoire as well.
Another simple app with nice sounds and nice graphics. Very easy for little kids to use (1 to 2 years). Tap to create sounds sound patterns.
Count the Animals!
Learn to count in English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, & Swedish. Fantastic and humorous graphics, clearly enunciated counting, count forward or backward. I have tried several apps for kids to learn languages and this is the first one to capture G's attention, and has her repeating out loud all along the way.
The Game of Life
Definitely for older kids, but really fun to play together. G and I love playing this while we wait at the doctor's office--and so do J and I! It's a great 3D rendition of the classic board game.
Paper Town Friends:
A paper doll game with the best graphics hands down of any app out there. Handcut tiny paper clothes on cute tiny paper friends. So far this app has seen the most use of any that we have by both 2 year olds and 5 year olds! The illustrator, Robin Rosenthal, also illustrated an app version of Winken, Blinken, and Nod.
What are some of your favorites?