best free ipad apps for toddlers 2012

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Toy Story Review
Seeing the first Toy Story movie is not easy on the old ticker. There are scenes that would make a grownup shriek with fear. For example, take notice on all the unfortunate toy gathering in Sid’s house when Woody and Buzz get locked over there, brrr. Having said that, I was not quite sure if the Toy Story read along app would be a good fit for toddlers. Later on I found out that the app is not as scary as the movie, however, we found several flows that made it harder for it to be accepted as one of the best apps for toddlers.

The Toy story app is pretty massive in scale. It consists of several modules, each one could have been distributed as a standalone app. The main module is basically a shortened, toddler friendly storyline of the original movie. The story is narrated along with basic animations and several hot-spots that could be pressed in order to hear Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang talk. The graphics and sounds are top notch as we came to expect from all Disney products. The app feels real sturdy and no meaningfully glitches were found.

Unfortunately, the Disney folks probably had too much budget allocated to this project (probably using my family Disneyland park entrance fees) therefore making them enter several bells and whistles which could be somewhat confusing for toddlers and younger children.
For example, when inside the storyline, there is a prominent “mouse ears” button on the bottom part of the screen. Every now and then my kids would click on this menu, getting lost in all the advanced options and extra features, thus loosing their focus and not using the app as intended.
Another example would be the painting mode which could be enabled much too easy by clicking the “color bucket” button on the story-line image. Exiting this mode is not an easy task for toddlers and there are functions such as “email this coloring page” which completely throws the kids off course.

Five Little Monkeys Collection Review
One of the funniest children song I know of, is “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed”. In fact, this song actually makes my kids lough every time they hear their kindergarten teacher sing it with his guitar. I may also like it when he sings it, but I admit nothing. Therefore I was delighted to learn that Oceanhouse Media is offering an e-book collection of Eileen Christelow’s “Five little monkeys” book series which is known for its goofy looking monkey drawings and has been a children’s book bestsellers for many years.

This toddler app is basically a collection of the following books:

-Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
-Five Little Monkeys Bake a Birthday Cake
-Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car
-Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree
-Five Little Monkeys With Nothing to Do

The books transformation to the e-book format is very solid and feels “fully baked”. The story is narrated and could be auto-played or paged manually. I was happy to learn that the paging rhythm in auto-play was fast enough, in a way that younger children doesn’t lose focus and wonder off before reaching the end.

It would be appreciated though, if Oceanhouse would start employing deeper interactive elements and hot-spots that would really make their e-books an enriching 2 way experience for kids. Something along the lines of “Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton (developed by Loud Crow Interactive). I realize that these are simpler books that has less detailed graphics to work with, but I’m sure that some carefully implemented hot-spots would make a huge difference in the overall experience of Oceanhouse’s e-books and would make Five Little Monkeys one of the best iPad apps for toddlers available.

Green Eggs and Ham Review
A couple of weeks ago I went to pick up my kids from their daycare. It was very late, and I was the last parent to arrive. To my surprise, my kids were seating quietly with their teacher, listening to him read Dr. Seuss’s book – Green Eggs and Ham. I was under the impression that Dr. Seuss books are aimed for an older audience but it turns out that they could enjoy the easy repetitive manner of this book.
After seeing this, I figured it is time to give the Green Eggs and Ham toddler app a quick test drive, see if the kids can enjoy it as much as they enjoyed the paper version.The book is based on the Ocenhouse Media e-book platform (Ombook) which is one of the best in the business. Flipping the pages of the e-book is a breeze, the narration is professional and slow enough for a toddler to understand.

While the debate rages on about whether you should let your baby use your iPad (or give your baby her own iPad,) the fact is, if you have a young child and an iPad, there will likely come a time when the two will cross paths. Fortunately, there are lots of great apps made specifically for your iPad that can keep baby entertained on a plane, in a restaurant or at the doctor’s office. Here’s a list of readers’ top 10 favorites:

1. 5-in-1 Kids Pack HD. If your little one loves matching games, this is the app for her. Lots of matching games are included, and you can customize each one by the size of the grid, timing and types of objects to be matched — numbers, pictures, letters. (iTunes, $1)

2. AlphaBaby. This simple app is great for even the youngest of babies. Kids can touch the screen and a letter (or number, or shape) will appear. If they touch again, they will see a new image. A voice says the name of the letter, number or shape out loud when it’s touched. It may sound kinda dull, but to a little one, it’s just the right kind of cool. (iTunes, $1)

3. Bubbles. It’s a scientific fact that kids love to pop bubbles (just ask any scientist who has kids.) And that’s all this app aims to do. There’s no teaching, no repeating, just the ultimate in super-fun bubble-popping distraction. Go ahead, just try and tear your toddler away. (iTunes, $1)

4. Drawing Pad.
This app is like a virtual arts and crafts kit for kids. Tots can choose from crayons, pencils, brushes and big fat erasers. Oh, and don’t forget the stickers — lots and lots of stickers that kids can layer in their drawing as they see fit, or delete at will. (iTunes, $2)

5. Fish School. This cool app includes lots of fun activities for kids working hard to master the basics. Toddlers can name numbers and letters, guess colors, and play memory matching games. (iTunes, $2)

6. I Hear Ewe. This fun app includes 24 animal cards, and 12 vehicle cards, each identified by name and by sound. It’s like a ‘See and Say’ toy for next generation. And for the price, you can’t beat it! (iTunes, Free)

7. Squiggles. This app is marketed for toddlers and preschoolers, but I’m pretty sure my older kids (and even my husband) would fight to play it if they could. This fun app makes a child’s hand drawn “squiggles” come to life — from a wiggly line to a sheep’s wool, a curly bear, rocket smoke … you name it. Best part? It’s free! (iTunes, Free)

8. Peekaboo Barn. This app is a fun animal recognition game featuring all of your toddlers favorite critters, including pigs, roosters, cows, goats and more. And of course, this game wouldn’t be complete without the playful version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” tinkling in the background. (iTunes, $3)

9. The Monster At The End of This Book. This is one of my girls’ favorite books, so I just knew the app would be a winner. Kids can read the story and use the interactive features to untie knots, knock down walls, and help Grover overcome his fear of monsters. (iTunes, $4)

10. Toddler Counting. How fun could it possibly be to count? Count cows. Count sheep. Count strawberries. This app not only counts along with you, but it applauds when you’re done. That’s pretty darned fun for a 2-year-old. (iTunes, $1)

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