About the Author
Posted on behalf of Zayaan Schroeder who is a mother to two kids and is passionate about making their childhood memorable and happy. She has been a parenting journalist for 10 years and also runs a parenting blog called Surviving the Madness dedicated to making things easier for moms. You can follow her on Instagram www.instagram.com/survivingmadenss
Our children live in a very different world to the one we grew up in. Their world is filled with the kind and level of technology that we could only dream of. And while there can be downsides to this kind of tech heavy life there are also opportunities that we were never privileged to have.
While screen time should be limited as busy parents and actually just any parent who needs a break, handing your kid your phone or tablet for a half an hour can be just what is needed to stop you falling over the edge. Or well, to get supper ready.
There are so many things in the app store for kids that are just brain numbingly bad. But here are some great fun and educational games. My kids have played each and every one of these games at one point or another and they’re the ones that keep them occupied and learning while I take a moment to breathe.
Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids is for children aged 2-6 and includes thousands of educational games, activities, and books to help toddlers and pre-schoolers learn. A cast of adorable characters guide your kid through lessons, and it has an adaptive learning path that will customise their experience to help them to master different skills.
The lessons cover areas such as reading, language, writing, math, social-emotional development, problem-solving skills, and motor development. Open-ended activities like drawing, storytelling, and colouring encourage creativity and self-expression. My 5-year-old and 2-year-old each have their own profile with their own learning journey.
I love that Khan Academy Kids has partnered with the Super Simple Songs YouTube channel and uses their songs to teach various concepts. Another big plus with this app is that it’s completely free, forever - no ads and no subscriptions necessary.
Download for free on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Astronomy for Kids: Star Walk
My son like most little kids is obsessed with space, planets, the moon and stars and has 5 million questions about them that I don’t have the answers to. Astronomy for kids is a beautifully designed app with bright colours and fun animations and it’s been a really cool experience to learn with my little one. After each section there’s a little test so your child can test his knowledge.
It’s available on the Google Play Store for R14.99 or the Apple App Store for $2.99
Teach Your Monster To Read
Teach Your Monster makes learning letters and reading fun. Your child makes a Monster friend and they go on a journey identifying sounds, sight words and reading sentences. This app is worth the price for me because it covers the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying little books. The recommended age range for this app is 3 – 6 years but it can be used a bit beyond those years especially if your child is struggling. Another reason this is one of the apps I actually paid for is because it’s been designed in collaboration with reading experts from Roehampton University and hopefully they’re a clever lot who know what they’re doing.
Download on the Google Play Store for R84.99 or the Apple App Store for $4.99
Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
This game is an early introduction to coding and with the way the world is going I think it’s essential that every child learns basic coding skills. In this game from Fischer-Price, your child must help the Code-a-pillar through the maze by giving it commands using a drag and drop function. As your child levels up they unlock new coding segments so each level gets progressively more challenging.
Your child will develop mathematical skills like planning & sequencing, problem solving, number recognition and counting in order.
Download for free on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
By Zayaan Schroeder
Introducing your child to reading from a young age is a very important part of their development. The benefits of reading to your baby from a very young age are innumerable. The more stories you read aloud to your children, the more words they will be exposed to and this improves your child’s language skills considerably. Reading from a young age also instils an early love for books and reading and this means your children are exposed to so many subjects that they become super knowledgeable on. My son could school me on the difference between a brontosaurus and a brachiosaurus and also why Pluto is a dwarf planet and not part of the solar system anymore. So here’s a list of the best books to include in your child’s library as approved by my 5-year-old son and his 2-year-old sister.
1. My First Books by Priddy
These were the very first books I got for my babies. Anything from the My First Books range is excellent because Roger Priddy designed these books especially for little hands to handle. They’re chunky board books, and each page is striking and colourful and filled with beautiful illustrations. You’ll find different tactile books like touch and feel books and cloth books as well as the classic My First Words series.
2. The Gruffalo
This was the very first story book I read for my son when he was around 18 months old. He was a very busy baby so he wouldn’t sit still for a story before this age. He absolutely loved The Gruffalo and consequently pretty much everything by Julia Donaldson. The Gruffalo tells the tale of a little mouse making his way through the forest. In an attempt to get the forest’s predators to not eat him, he makes up an imaginary monster called the Gruffalo to scare them off. Until he finds out the Gruffalo is real.
3. Goodnight Moon
For some reason my 2-year-old, like so many children around the world, is obsessed with this very simple book. It’s about saying goodnight to all the things in the little rabbit’s bedroom before bed. It has a very striking colour scheme of green, red, black, white and grey.
4. The Going to Bed book
This story by Sandra Boynton is a childhood favourite of mine and I’m happy to say my kids love it too. It’s about a group of animals on a boat going through the motions of going to bed. It’s simple and silly and my 2 year-old has already memorised it so she often “reads” it for us at bedtime.
5. Wocket in my pocket
Any Dr. Seuss book is a great addition to your child’s library but the reason I chose Wocket in My Pocket for this list is because that is the one that my children ask for. It’s a close tie with One Fish, Two Fish but Wocket in My Pocket is a shorter read which is what every parent wants at bedtime. Wocket in my Pocket is about a boy with all sorts of creatures who live in his house. Like most Dr Seuss books its silliness wrapped in fun. In Wocket he makes up creatures whose names rhyme with every day household items like waskets who live in baskets and yeps that sit on steps.
6. Oi Frog Oi Frog!
is another silly rhyming book but it’s loads of fun. Cat insists that frogs sit on logs. But Frog doesn’t want to sit on a log because it’s not very comfortable. But Cat says that’s just the way things are as Frog gives other suggestions for him to sit on. According to Cat, however, all those things are already taken by animals whose names they rhyme with. I love this book for its colourful illustrations and how it teaches rhyming words in its silliness.
7. The Book With No Pictures
This book is ideal for when you want to introduce your kids to the concept of there being more words than pictures in a book. When we first read this book my 5-year-old was so reluctant but it’s filled with silly words that the reader is forced to say no matter what! Which is highly amusing to a 5-year-old, I’ve never heard him laugh that much before.
About the AuthorZayaan Schroeder is a mother to two kids and is passionate about making their childhood memorable and happy. She has been a parenting journalist for 10 years and also runs a parenting blog called Surviving the Madness dedicated to making things easier for moms.