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Favorite Children's Apps of 2012!

Did your child receive an IPad for Christmas? A Nook Tablet? Kindle Fire? Need help knowing which apps are BEST for your children?

At Richland Library, we want you to be able to confidently access the BEST books, movies, and apps for your children. Since the amount of apps available multiplies every day, sometimes it is hard to know which ones are worth your time (and money). We want to inform you of some apps that we consider some of the best from the past year.

Note: As we reviewed apps for you to consider, we took into several things into account: amount of educational, entertainment content, app reviews from professional reviewers (such as School Library Journal), and cost. We have broken them up into two categories: Young children (2-5 year olds) and Elementary School Children (1st-5th grade).

Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to not allow children under 2 to have any screen time (this includes T.V., computers, and portable devices) because it interferes with “talk & play time”, which is crucial to language development.

Without further ado, our favorite apps of 2012 are:

For Young Children (2-5):

1. Little Writer (Free): This app teaches your child how to trace upper and lowercase letters, numbers from 1 to 9, shapes, and short words. A feature that we really liked was how much you can customize what you want your child to trace. Want to help them learn their own name? No problem! Just add their name to the list of words they can write and they can begin practicing. The cost is exceptional, which makes it an app that you cannot afford to miss.

2. Press Here ($1.99): Based on the best-selling children’s book by Hervé Tullet of the same name, this app is sure to entertain you and your child! With 15 games to choose from, opportunities to imagine and create abound. As for cost, the app is inexpensive considering how much you get ($1.99 for iPad and 99¢ for iPhone). All that is left is for you to come on in to the library and check out the book too!

3. Wee Alphas ($2.99): This app is a beautifully designed, unique alphabet app for your preschooler. As the narrator reads a short, one-sentence story based on each letter of the alphabet, your little one can find hidden letters within the animal drawings and cute animations on each letter's page. At the end of the story, kids can also practice tracing letters on an in-app sketchpad. The app also gives tips for parents to help teach the alphabet to their kids in everyday life. Although the cost is $2.99, it was worth it for the educational AND entertainment content!

For Elementary School Children:

1. Flow Free (Free): Flow Free is an ultra-absorbing, color-based puzzle game that's simple enough for young kids to start and challenging enough to keep teens and adults playing through the hundreds of levels. Just connect matching colored dots by swiping a finger between each dot to create a "pipe" without crossing colors. Flow Free is simple fun that requires increasingly complex thinking skills, that is especially fun to do as a family activity!

2. Jungle Coins ($2.99): Jungle Coins uses a fun, jungle animal theme to teach and encourage the practice of coin and money skills. This app helps teach children about identifying, counting and computing with coins. The large display, brightly colored graphics, fun animals and different categories will engage your child through play and help them learn.

3. Sushi Monster (Free): This is a new entertaining and challenging math app from Scholastic. Kids practice addition and multiplication skills by feeding the monster numbered plates of sushi, creating a number sentence to arrive at the monster's requested number. Correct answers earn kids points, stars, and trophies. Choose the wrong sushi? The monster throws a temper tantrum! The target skills increase in difficulty with each new level. For students, I imagine that the app is more enjoyable than a standard worksheet or repeated problems in a notebook!

4. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ($4.99): This app is based on a children’s book and Academy Award winning short film with the same name. The app book contains several animated clips from the film as well as an interactive hybrid of the book. The story is a lovely and fantastical one that celebrates the power of books. There's also whole lot for your child to do besides just view the story, including piecing together puzzles, building words with alphabet cereal, and drawing your own pictures on blank book pages. Totally worth the $4.99!

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