Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Favorite Apps for Toddlers

One of the big questions I get asked a lot about is screen time! Yes, my kids do get screen time.  Screen time in our house comes in 2 forms: TV and tablet (we call it game time). Each morning our boys each get to pick a show to watch while we all wake up. The other time my kiddos get screen time is during Avery's nap. Cohen is allowed to play his game for an hour. I know, I know. That's a long time but hear me out:

1. I know my kid best. And I know that for him, game time is used productively and helps him to calm his body and center himself
2. It is the only time he gets to play anything without brother wanting to take everything he has 

With all things, I believe in moderation and screen time is no exception. And we are lucky that we live in a time where so many educational apps are available for our little ones so I don't feel as bad letting him play as much!

Below is a list of some of our favorite apps for game time. As always, I would recommend downloading and trying them yourself first before introducing to your kiddos! This is what I always do! The BIGGEST issue I have/advice is if you like the free version - spend the $2 for the paid version! The only reason I say this is because the free versions play commercials and they are NOT always kid friendly. The paid apps have no commercials! 



Educational:
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Balloon Pop!: 
This is a very basic one and is one of Avery’s favorites (he's 18mos)! There are balloons you pop to practice colors and letters. Super simple, not much substance but a good beginner game to get your little one used to operating a game.


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Toddler Games for 2 year olds: 
This is another popping game but is a little more substantial. You pick the skill to focus on and then it increases in difficulty asking them to tap that letter/shape/color/etc. 


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ABC Mouse: 
I 100% recommend this one hands down. I used this in the classroom too and loved it. It does cost $10/mo but you get a free trial to test it out! My favorite is that you can customize the skills and lessons to your kiddo and you can use the app on your phone to track their progress as they go!


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ABC Kids: 
This one has pros and cons! Pro: It’s really good for pre-writing! That's the main reason I like it! They help your little one practice tracing the letters. It also has lots of other letter practice. Con: it doesn’t have the letter sounds correct. For example for B they say “buh” which is linguistically not correct. Most apps/teachers make this mistake too (putting an /uh/ at the end of letter sounds which is confusing). I didn't let Cohen start playing this one until he had mastered his letter sounds AND was old enough to understand that these sounds weren't correct.

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Alphabet Aquarium: 
I like this one because each letter has several activities to practice the name and sound. Your little one starts by building the letter, building an animal that starts with that letter, beginning sound picture puzzles. There's a lot of fine motor and repetition of each letter which is great!

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Epic!: 
This is another subscription but also has a free trial and it is BOOKS. So. Many. Books! Audio books, read to me books, it’s amazing! Definitely worth a trial!

Just for fun:

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Tap Color: 
This is a color by number app - Cohen is obsessed! They have kid versions too but he likes the adult challenge! While I put this app in my "just for fun" list it does work on color recognition, number recognition and fine motor skills (just not explicitly).

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Car Wash: 
Exactly what the name is, the kids wash cars. Cohen loooooves this one.  😂

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Pipe Art: 
This one is really challenging but really good for spatial awareness! It starts easy and gets harder. The goal is to make each pipe so that it fits within the box and doesn't overlap with another pipe. It's a lot harder than it looks! 

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Homescapes: 
This is probably the funniest one that Cohen is into! There’s a little game you play to earn stars and then you use the stars to remodel a house 😂


There you have it! Our favorites! What are some of your little one's favorite apps? I'm always on the look out for new and exciting educational (and fun) apps!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

7 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling with little ones - that's a daunting topic isn't it!? Gone are the days of carefree travel where you can choose any flight, leave any time, stay anywhere and eat anything. There's a lot of preparation that goes into traveling with little ones but I can help you with some of that!

You know how much I love to plan activities so it's no surprise that I prepped all kinds of activities for our various travel adventures! I'm here to share some of our favorites with you to hopefully make your planning a little easier! Whether you’re traveling by airplane or by car these tips are sure to keep your little one happy and engaged!

1. Cookie Tray: This is my favorite tip! Seriously, if you do nothing else, do this! This tray is the perfect catch all! I can be used a a snack tray, an activity table and they’re even magnetic! Plus they're a dollar! Can't beat that!

2. Magnetic Puzzles - This was quite possibly the activity that gave us the most bang for our buck! Just add magnets to the back of puzzle pieces so they stick to the tray! This can even be done with foam puzzles for the youngest of travelers. 

3. Countdown Strip: To curb down on those “Are we there yet?” questions, use masking tape and mark off the hours of travel! Bonus if you print out a little car or plane and move it along the strip as you go!



4. Water Wow: These things are magical (quite literally!). You paint with water to make the colors show up on the picture. Then once they dry, you paint again! They are the perfect travel size, reusable and mess free! 
5. Gel Window Clings: These are really fun to use on airplane windows or on those cookie trays in the car! My little ones love to put them on and take them off over and over again!

6. Snacks: This one is obviously a no brainer - but lots of snacks! Think of things that are mess free and take awhile to eat (raisins, cheerios, etc).

7. Scavenger Hunt/Map: Before each trip I research the route to our destination and draw up a little map for the boys. Nothing fancy (if you've seen my drawing skills, you know I'm not kidding 🤣). I include any land marks we might see (bridges, lakes, waterfalls, buildings, etc.) Even the youngest of travelers like the know what to expect and follow along on the adventure! And engaging them in the travel is part of the fun!


That's it! Those are my favorites! I hope they help you plan out your next trip!
Enjoy your adventures! 🛪🚙