Here are some of my sons' favourites:
This app is teaching Hunter letters and sounds- a beautifully illustrated 'puzzle' game in which letters must be matched to their place in a word. Happy monsters scramble the letters and kids are asked to drag the letters back to where they belong. As they drag each letter, the letter hisses and gurgles its sound (So P says "pah, pahpahpahpahpah"). Once the word is complete, the happy monsters come back and act out its meaning. The kids can take as long as they want to complete the puzzle, the animations are beautiful and the interface is loose enough for clumsy toddler fingers to manage without frustration. I paid $6.49 for the app and have not regretted it.
Night & Day studios have a range of beautiful apps in their Peekaboo series. Hunter adores Peekaboo Forest (featuring the art of Charlie Harper), and Peekaboo Trick Or Treat (featuring the art of Ed Emberley). The premise is simple- a simple picture in which one part is moving, touch the moving part to be rewarded with an animal (in Peekaboo Forest) or a Halloween themed spooky (in Peekaboo Trick Or Treat). Slow paced, beautifully illustrated and easy to use, these apps are ideal for very young children. Also in the series is Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Farm, Peekaboo Friends, Peekaboo Wild and Peekaboo Fridge. Some are free. All are beautiful.
This one is a bit advanced for a 2 year old even though it says 2+ years, and is available on iPad only, but Hunter enjoys playing this app with a bit of help from Mummy. Mini-U Zoo Alphabet has two ways to play. Children can play the games to learn the letters, or take a quiz about what they have learnt. The animals are not always the common ones either- for example, K is a Komodo Dragon! Both modes feature delightful illustrations, surprising animations and
a good level of ease of play.
First Words: Toddler Touch and Say
Super simple- touch a picture to hear its name and sound. There are four categories (pictured above- Vehicles, At Home, Animals and Toys) and about fifty words to play with. Hunter finds this game very rewarding, and easy to use. There are no in-app purchases so its safe for him to play without strict supervision. It costs $1.99.
Sound Shaker (Tickle Tap)
Hunter loves to play Sound Shaker because he gets to make all kinds of sounds simply by tapping and tilting the phone. The graphics are simple and yet beautiful, and each sound has a surprsing animation-tap the screen to make a ball that makes sounds as it bounces around, hold your finger for longer and see the ball grow, change colour and change sound- eventually cracking like an egg and revealing a happy bird who flies away. This was the first app Hunter ever engaged with, and he still enjoys playing it to this day. I bought it in a bundle called Tickle Tap, which also features a variety of other games more aimed at pre-schoolers. I'm sure Hunter will grow to enjoy those games but for now he loves making sounds and cracking eggs! Sound Shaker alone will set you back $1.99.
Plic Ploc Wiz
Plic Ploc Wiz is beautiful- simple like a tangram game, Hunter loves to move the shapes about, change their colours, and generally muddle up the shapes. Best of all, it's free.
16 mini games with cute illustrations and charming music make this app one that I like to play with Hunter. Hunter can play by himself- there are no in app purchases or links to the Internet, and there are no written instructions either- movement and sound help show toddlers what is needed. Hunter hasn't quite mastered the games, but he likes fiddling around with it. It is $2.99 in the iTunes store.
Petting Zoo by Christoph Neiman
We have the free version of this app which only features animals- touch an animal to be taken to a photograph of the animal and hear it's noises- each time you touch the animal, it takes you to a different high quality photograph and plays a different noise- for example the first time you touch the cat icon the cat miawos, next time it purrs. The paid version of this app feautres hundreds of icons arranged in different themes, animals, musical instruments, vehicles, food etc. I think I will end up buying this app, as Hunter enjoys it but his clumsy hands swipe over to the not included topics and he ends up in iTunes which is frustrating for us both, but the app itself is very pleasing to Hunter so its a small price to pay for being a cheapskate :)
The amazing felt sculptor and rock musician Seja has made a free app, featuring her felt synths - Hunter loves to play the keyboards and sound pads, and I love how adorable it is while still being free. A simple app, this one is loads of fun.
Another beautiful app by the always stylish Toca Boca Studios- Toca Band features cute and sassy characters who alos happen to be musical instrucments. Drag them onto the stage and hear them sing! Hunter and Daddy play this one together as it is a bit beyong Hunter yet but with guidance Hunter gets a kick out of playing this app. $2.99 in the app store- and be sure to check out the rest of the apps from Toca Boca- all of them have an amazing style, perfect for fans of Yo Gabba Gabba.
Other cool apps to check out- for slightly older kids or for playing together:
Go Away Big Green Monster
Little Things Forever
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
Build A Robot
Richard Scarry's Busytown
Paper Town Friends
Make A Monster HD
Monster Coloring Book
Cars Search and Find Wimmelbuch
The Human Body by Tinybop
The Monster at the End of This Book
C'mon get appy,