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 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…
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 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.
Encouraging exploration, imagination & understanding the world
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.
Originally known for imaginative play apps like Tiny Airport, Wonderkind now offers a wide range including puzzle games and maths apps.
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.
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.
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.
Learning Literacy, Numeracy and Other Key Skills
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.
For 3-5 year olds, the EduGuru Maths or English app provide a strong foundation based on the UK curriculum.
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.
If you’re looking for a combination of ad-free kids TV shows and curriculum-linked interactive games then Hopster is a great choice.
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: