As I get ready for our next baby to arrive in June, I ‘m trying to line up activities to keep my older two children happy. This includes camp, beach time and playmates. But what about those days when we stay home? If we can’t enjoy some of our favorite free outdoor activities, that’s when I look to apps and computer games for something new. I know when I’m nursing I won’t be able to be hands on for a craft project. The iPad and iPhone will provide me a few peaceful moments to take care of the new baby. My go to games are all from the PBS Kids family of education apps and games.
I recently attended an event where I learned more about “It All Adds Up.” It’s a collaborative effort to improve the development of early math and literacy skills, focusing on children ages 2-8 from low-income families. I know even in our house we could use more math skill building opportunities. We read aloud as a family every day, but don’t often incorporate any math practice beyond counting. (Don’t miss the new PBS show Peg and Cat coming in the fall focusing on math problem solving skills.)
PBS Kids Lab is the place to start to find many games, apps and offline activities to help supplement what you are doing at home and in schools. My kids tested out a number of apps and games featuring characters from their favorite PBS Kids shows. I let Madison use the computer for the first time at the event. It opened up a whole new world of games for her. In the spirit of “It all adds up” I had her focus on math based activities, which was easy to find in the Curious George section. Bubble Pop was her favorite. My favorite is the Monkey Jump game that incorporates physical activity with the use of your webcam.
The little guy, at two years old, used the iPad with the PBS Parent Play and Learn App. This is geared towards children ages 0-4. I liked that it is more than just games. There are activity ideas to foster learning offline in a variety of environments, like a restaurant or grocery store. JJ is still mastering the art of the “hold and drag” concept on the iPad, but it’s so fun watching him try this new skill.
For older kids, Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman offers the chance to build your own mini golf course. The demo I watched was very cool, but definitely for the older kids ages 6-8.
I want to note that while we are a digital family, it’s important to monitor your child’s screen time. Screen time includes both TV, computer, iPad and smart phone time. In my past children app reviews, I’ve mentioned the guideline is no more than one hour of screen time for children ages 2-5. That hour goes fast, especially when they want to watch both Curious George and Cat and the Hat in the morning. The best thing you can do is offer your children educational programming to fill that hour instead of mindless TV or computer games.
Check out the PBS Kids Lab programs and let me know in the comments which are your kid’s favorites.
Disclosure: I am a PBS Kids VIP (Very Important Parent) Ambassador and attended a special media event to test out the kids apps and games. I enjoy sharing my experiences with PBS Kids since my kids are such big fans. All opinions shared here are my own.
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About Emily Roach
Emily Roach is a culinary nutrition expert and works with clients to create a healthy lifestyle design. She loves teaching her kids how to cook, playing tennis and inspiring women to take control of their health. Emily does one-on-one consulting, cooking workshops and speaking engagements.