Everywhere I go, whether it is a restaurant, doctor appointment, supermarket or even the library, children and adults alike are using screens. Media is everywhere now! Children on average spend SEVEN hours each day using electronics. It is hard as a parent to decide what the right amount of time to use screens is and what to allow for content.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released some guidelines on screen time. They suggest that for children younger than 18 months, the use of screen time is avoided all together, with the exception of Facetime/Skype calls. For children ages 2 to 5 years, they advise that you limit screen use to 1 hour EACH day. For children age 6 or older, they suggest that the parent decides how long to allow and to place limits on the time spent using media.
I personally feel it is unrealistic to say, as a parent, I can ban or significantly limit screen time. My son has his homework on the iPad; he belongs to clubs that he has follow up tasks to complete on the computer; math facts are completed online. When he is allowed the chance to watch television or play a game on iPad, I make sure to offer educational options for both. I encourage parents to make it a priority to stock their devices with these kinds of apps rather than YouTube. Please know if you decide to let your child use YouTube, you should closely monitor the content.
Below are a just a few apps that I feel are educational, fun, and can help encourage speech and language.
Preschool Games - Farm Animals by Photo Touch: This game models farm animal vocabulary, offers find it activities, and increases in difficulty as you go.
TODDLER LTD: This is a great vocabulary builder for numbers, colors, shapes, fruit, vegetables, alphabet flashcards, quizzes, puzzles
Thomas and Friends engine activities: Preschoolers LOVE Thomas! This game has a matching game to introduce concepts of same different and jigsaw puzzles.
Alien buddies by Artgig Studio: This game works on understanding of colors, shapes, numbers, letters through matching, puzzles, and other fun following direction games.
Any Toca Boca app: My son loved the Toca Boca apps! These apps are great for building vocabulary and associations, following multiple step directions, and basic concepts.
Make A Scene by Innivo Ltd: Another app that is a vocabulary builder.
Bamba Games: There are various options like ice cream, pizza, burger, toys and post office each requires the player to follow multiple step directions in order to operate which ever shop you have.
My play home: This app is good for household vocabulary, actions and play. I personally would like this app more if language was modeled when the actions were completed. I use this more as a receptive language app to work on following directions and wh questions.
Shapes Toddler Preschool By Toddler Teasers: This app can help children learn shapes with flash cards, complete quizzes and puzzles.
Clean Up by Category Sorting By Different Roads to Learning, Inc.: This is a simple app that has children sort items into categories of toys, food or clothing.
Make It Pop by Tryangle Labs: I like this one because it helps learn the alphabet, shapes, and numbers within a cause and effect game.
Mr. Potato Head: This app is great for body parts vocabulary, and it can be used for following directions. It is just like the toy but with fun animated sequences for children.
Elmo loves ABCs: I really like this app it is great for learning letters and early literacy/phonemic awareness activities.
Endless ABC, numbers or reader: Vocabulary words are defined, and numbers or letters are illustrated each within an animated sequence.
For kindergarten and early elementary aged:
Max and Meredith: This app can either read to the listener or be read silently while the player makes choices to complete the book. This is essentially a fancy make your own adventure book.
Map Adventure: This has the player follow directions with quantitative concepts, spatial concepts, negation, various vocabulary, and puzzles. I like this app because it makes sure the player is set up for success.
Grammar Wonderland: This is a fun game set up like a video game where the player can practice grammar concepts at increasing levels of difficulty.
Story maker Free: With this app the player can work on formulating stories out loud or writing/typing out stories. Great for working on sentence formation!
Who Was It?: This is another app that kids don’t realize they are working on so many hard concepts. The game is similar to Clue with three levels of difficulties. Players have to work together to solve a puzzle using memory/recall and inferences.
Hooked on Phonics-Program available online
For all children
Your Game: Turn anything (vocabulary words, articulation cards, spelling words) into flashcards, games, and puzzles. It has a microphone feature that allows you to personalize the pictures that you add.
Bitsboard: Make flashcards or memory games for different categories/vocabulary.
In terms of television some of my go to programs include:
Sesame Street, Curious George, Wild Kratts, Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, Busy Town, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train, Little Einsteins, Blue’s Clues, Veggie Tales, School House Rocks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Creative Galaxy, Wallykazam, The Electric Company, Planet Earth I and II, National Geographic Channel, Bill Nye the Science Guy, How Stuff Works and Myth Busters
While screen time can be educational AND fun, make sure your family still has media-free time. Families should keep certain times of the day, like meal time, free of screens and have rooms that are media-free. Remember to model what you expect and have EVERYONE unplug during these times or places.