Child on iPad

Keeping a pre-schooler entertained is hard at the best of times but when you’re suddenly forced to stay at home without any outings, playmates or other distractions whilst simultaneously trying to get your own work done it feels just about impossible!

I’ve been reviewing apps for 2 years olds, 3 year olds and 4 year olds since 2012 and have observed many hundreds of pre-schoolers trying them. Every child is different and no app is perfect but here are a list of some of my favourites that might help amuse them whilst supporting their development. I have also written separate guides dedicated to English and Maths suggestions for pre-school and Primary ages. However, please make sure screen time is not used to excess, particularly at this young age. I know how tough it is, but balancing screen time with other forms of play (active, imaginative, social, creative) is just so important to their development.

Apps with a Wide Range Early Years Curriculum

Montessori Preschool

Montessori Preschool by Edoki Academy is one of my all-time favourites! A subscription app, that is both high quality and comprehensive, covering maths, learning to read, creativity, coding, science and understanding the world. This may be the only app you need…

It is based on the Montessori learning through play principles and is available for Apple, Android (Google Play) and Amazon devices.

Edoki Academy have a range of stand-alone one-off purchase apps beyond this too but, for pre-schoolers, Montesorri Preschool is well worth the small monthly or annual price.

Hungry Caterpillar Play School

Hungry Caterpillar Play School is another wonderful subscription service for 2 – 6 year olds that covers a wide curriculum. Full of familiar characters that make it perfect for any Hungry Caterpillar fan.

The app covers: Shapes & colour, letter recognition, early numeracy skills, art, learn to read books, nurturing your caterpillar (until it emerges as a butterfly), songs and videos. It has new content added every month.

Available on Apple, Google Play & Amazon.

Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy Kids includes a wide selection of literacy, maths, creative and logic games, ebooks and more. This app is completely free, no ads, no subscriptions. Available on Apple, Google Play or Amazon

Encouraging exploration, imagination & understanding the world

Dr. Panda

A range of Dr. Panda apps encourage exploration and imaginative play with themes like farms, space, cafes and home. The brand also provides creative apps (like Dr. Panda Art Class), literacy/numeracy learning (like their new Play & Learn) and an all-in-one subscription service, as well as a YouTube channel.

Sago Mini

Whether your little one(s) is into fairy tales, boats, trains, superheroes or dressing up, Sago Mini has an app for them – encouraging imagination, creativity and exploration. Buy as separate apps or the Sago World subscription for all in one.

Pepi

Pepi offers a series of pretend play apps, like Pepi Wonder World, an app that enables role-play, exploration around fairy tale characters and stories, inspiring children to retell the classics in their play or come up with their own stories.

Wonderkind

Originally known for imaginative play apps like Tiny Airport, Wonderkind now offers a wide range including puzzle games and maths apps.

Encouraging Creativity

Labo Lado

I’ve been a big fan of Labo Lado for years. Their apps make it easy and fun for kids to be creative. Unlike other apps, children can play with their cars, trains, animals etc after they make them.

Mussila

If you want to encourage musical skills then Mussila is a fabulous choice. A subscription service that helps kids learn to recognise instruments, copy rhythms, play the piano, compose etc. Crafted by music experts and educators to provides a strong foundation in music encouraging children to learn, play and create.

Pango

A great range of apps covering music, coding, building your own safari, weather, colouring, mazes…

E.g. Pango Musical March is simple to play, yet an incredibly powerful and fun musical tool. Add and remove characters who each play their own melody – combining together into an orchestra.

Toca Boca

Possibly the most well-known kids app brand. Toca Boca offers a huge range of apps. including the newest Hair Salon 4, amongst many others.

Learning Literacy, Numeracy and Other Key Skills

More choice for Maths and English apps and online services are included in my earlier posts, for early years and older children.

Hey Duggee – The Counting Badge

One of a range of Hey Duggee app, this one is ideal for any Hey Duggee fan to develop early maths skills.

Similarly, the same developer, Scary Beasties, has developed great apps for a range of other brands: PJ Masks, Charlie & Lola, Sarah & Duck, Ricky Zoom…

Originator

Originator provides a range of literacy and numeracy apps starting with number and letter recognition. Apps can be purchased separately or in the Endless Learning Academy via a subscription.

EduGuru

For 3-5 year olds, the EduGuru Maths or English app provide a strong foundation based on the UK curriculum.

Fiete

Produced by Ahoiii, the Fiete series of apps provide a number of good options. Fiete Choice is my personal favourite – a fun and increasingly challenging version of spot the odd one out.

PJ Masks Hero Academy

PJ Masks Hero Academy is a great app for any 3 – 7 year olds PJ Masks fan to introduce them to coding and logical thinking. The different levels allow it to be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.

Hopster

If you’re looking for a combination of ad-free kids TV shows and curriculum-linked interactive games then Hopster is a great choice.

Super Simple

Super Simple is another great choice for videos and songs for preschoolers. Their website also includes a range of activities for preschoolers to entertain them during lockdowns.

Printables

Whilst this article focuses on apps, as it is my area of expertise. If you are looking for screen-free activities for pre-schoolers then here are a few suggestions:

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