Monday, June 7, 2010

Toddler Boredom? There’s an App for That

If you’re a mom (or a dad) then you’ve probably found yourself in the unenviable position of having a bored toddler in an inconvenient place. I’m talking about long road trips with no end in sight, grocery shopping, or the black hole that is the pediatrician’s exam room once you’ve been called back and away from the toys.

What is a mom to do when her toddler is losing their mind with boredom?

There’s an app for that!

My Droid just continues to ooze awesomeness. I discovered the wonder of Toddler-Friendly Apps. It all started before last week’s road trip when I went searching for a Yo Gabba Gabba app that included the Party in My Tummy song. I just can’t get enough. From there, I decided to see if there were other Apps that might help to keep Charlie occupied.

I came across a few gems and thought I’d share them with you for the next time you find yourself with a toddler who is pulling out every tissue from the box in the exam room because nothing you offer as a distraction is good enough. And then you’re forced to hide the now-overstuffed tissue box in a weird place, like behind the brochures on puberty and bed-wetting, and then forget to take it back out before you leave the office and remember it later after you’ve gotten back home. Not that I’ve ever done that, or anything.

So, on to the apps. All of these are free, as I’m too cheap to pay for something like this.

Charlie’s absolute favorite is an app called Touch!4Kids. It’s actually a timed game – it plays (mildly annoying) music and then pictures of animals fly across the screen and you have to point at them to make them disappear. There’s a toddler mode that removes the timer so there’s no way you can lose. This is the one that Charlie asks for the most - he'll bring me the phone and say "animals, please!" It’s wildly addicting, as I discovered firsthand.

Five Pumpkins has a series of flashcard apps that include images and sound. I downloaded the numbers, letters, shapes, and things-that-go versions, but there are a few others available, too. These are good because they have an educational component and I don’t feel guilty about letting him rot his brain. He really likes the “things-that-go” version because he’s into cars and planes right now.

Charlie likes the animal apps, but I like Toddler Lock, mostly because it actually locks the phone, you have to press the corners in a clockwise pattern to unlock it. No danger of him placing a random call to my co-workers or sending jibberish emails to my entire department. It's kind of like a magna doodle that lets them draw with their fingers, and then depending on where you touch the screen shapes appear. Charlie likes this one, too, because he likes to name the shapes.

So there you have it. Another miracle brought to you by modern technology. Much better than a few pieces of string and some rocks.

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