Stuck in line at the bank with an impatient preschooler? Need a quiet activity while you wait for you food to be delivered at a restaurant? Download these free apps to help keep your preschooler engaged and entertained. Some are educational, some are just silly, but all are fun. Not all of these free apps were designed with preschoolers in mind, but all have been road tested by my preschooler and received passing scores for fun and ease of navigation.
1) Mega Jump
Mega Jump is a simple colorful game app that will easily entertain your preschooler. The purpose of this app is to guide a bug eyed creature as he zooms into the sky to collect coins. To steer the creature, you gently tip the iPhone or iPod Touch back and forth, making it a perfect game for preschoolers who aren’t reading yet.
2) Bubble Popper Free Edition
Who doesn’t love to pop bubble wrap? Opening this app gives you a screen of bubble wrap ripe for the popping. Press each bubble individually or run your finger around the screen to hear a satisfying succession of pops. A simple shake of your iPod Touch brings you a fresh batch of bubbles. There is also an options screen which allows your preschooler to change the color and size of the bubbles.
3) Shrek Kart Free
In the free version, Shrek is the only racer you can use and Far Far Away the only track. However, the amazing graphics and simplicity of the race make this a great free app for your preschooler. Cool features include the fun story opening of the game and the ability for Shrek to break wind (accelerate) during the race.
4) Dinosaurs 360
This app has four ways to entertain. Your preschooler can browse a photo gallery of what we presume different types of dinosaurs looked like, a dinosaur puzzle, and tour landscapes from different prehistoric eras. There is also a trivia quiz, but this feature requires reading skills.
5) American Museum of Natural History Dinosaurs
This is another app for the preschooler who loves dinosaurs. There is a large mosaic of pictures from the museum which your preschooler can zoom into with a few taps of his or her fingers. Each picture lets you get more info, such as where it was taken, or what dinosaurs it illustrates. There is also a “stories” feature that lists a few species of dinosaurs and more information about them, such as when they lived and where their fossils have been found.
6) Dump Truck Free
This app gives your preschooler the opportunity to drive a giant dump truck through various tracks. The controls can be a little bit difficult at first, but are easy to use after a little bit of practice.
7) Tap Fish
Tap Fish is a free app for your preschooler that involves managing a fish aquarium. The main screen is an aquarium where the fish you’ve collected swim by. The menu screen that you access is perfect for preschoolers who aren’t reading yet because all of the options, such as feeding your fish or cleaning their tank, are represented by pictures. Buying new fish may require some help from a reading parent. To maximize enjoyment for your preschooler, you may want to play this game a little first to unlock some of the other fish species.
8) Angry Birds Lite
There is a more extensive version of this game that you can download for $.99, but Angry Birds Lite is free. Using a slingshot, you launch different types of birds at wooden structures in an attempt to bring down the structure and the pigs hiding inside it (it is not graphic or violent). Yes, the context is a little odd, but the Angry Birds Lite app is highly addictive and easy for a preschooler to navigate.
9) Pocket Frogs
The purpose of the Pocket Frogs app is to collect and train different varieties of frogs. Mastering the game may be a little too complicated for most preschoolers, but they will still enjoy the fun, colorful graphics. Your preschooler can guide frogs to chase flies around a pond or watch them hop around on land. Like the Tap Fish app, you may want to play around a little bit to unlock other frogs so your preschooler has more to play with.
This is a great app for the artistic preschooler. In this app, you can choose a writing tool (such as a brush or chalk) and color the screen with your finger. Preschoolers can choose stamps to dress up their picture or even add a background. There is an erase tool, or your child can simply shake the iPhone or iPod Touch to erase their picture and start fresh.
11) Alphabet Tracing
This educational app gives your preschooler the chance to practice writing capital and lower case letters and the numbers one through nine. There is a small worm or train that will show your preschooler the direction and order of each line needed to complete the letter or number, and each letter and number are read out loud as your child traces them.
12) Monster Trucks Nitro
This is a fun racing game with realistic graphics that allows your preschooler to choose their monster truck and race course. Steering is easy and only requires tipping your iPhone or iPod Touch back and forth. You can also buy a version this game that has more levels, but it is a bit harder to navigate. The free version of this app is more than sufficient for entertaining a preschooler.
13) Shape Builder Lite
Shape Builder Lite is essentially a collection of puzzles, which your preschooler can piece together to form letters, numbers, and even types of fruit. To assemble the puzzle, the player just drags and drops the pieces into place. Once the puzzle is complete, the name of the letter or object is read out loud.
14) Kids Can Match- Animals
It is surprising this great app is free, but it really is. Kids Can Match is played exactly like the memory game, where you flip over cards trying to find a match. The realistic animal pictures and fun animal sounds will keep your preschooler playing round after round of this matching game.
15) Baby Piano Lite
This free app turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a piano with seven keys topped with various animals. Your preschooler can tap out music or change the settings (easily and without needing to read) so that each key makes an animal noise corresponding to the animal on the key.
And finally, Air Horn! Just kidding…Unless you are into loud, obnoxious noises as much as your preschooler likely is.