Yes, you read that headline correctly. My 19-month-old knows how to use an iPod Touch. Before you start throwing stones at me for letting my toddler use my not-cheap mini computer as a toy, let me tell you that the iPod Touch has saved my sanity while traveling cross-country. When the stickers, snacks, books, coloring books and song-singing fails (approximately two-and-a-half hours into the usually six to eight hour trip by plane), the iPod Touch works.
Zee is a pretty smart little cookie. She’s figured out how to navigate through the three pages of apps to find the ones that she loves. Of course, there are the occasional mishaps — like the accidental deletion of a favorite game — but nothing that can’t be reversed from the backup. Note to parents: Always backup your apps before letting your kid play with your iPod.
Though there are simple zany games, I favor educational apps. Makes me feel less like I’m letting my kid zone out on the computer and more like I’m helping her learn something. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Only time will tell.
Here, in no particular order, are the five apps my toddler finds the most fascinating. All of these apps are available for download at the iTunes App Store.
1. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($0.99. Thup Games). Zee learns about matching, differences, letters and counting while helping Monkey pack lunch. Appealing graphics, easy-to-understand game play and a cute monkey that does somersaults when happy make this a winner. It’s Zee’s favorite game.
2. Fish School ($1.99. Duck Duck Moose). Colorful schools of fish form the letters of the alphabet, numbers and shapes while a violin plays variations on the Alphabet Song. A friendly female voice describes the fishy formations as they swim by with the flick of a finger. With variations that teach about colors, matching, differences and playtime, this app has fins.
3. Pocket Zoo ($1.99. tinyhearts). Maybe it’s the animal sounds that emerge whenever she taps the screenshot of the zebra (who knew they yipped!). Maybe it’s the fact we can connect to live webcam feeds of various animals in zoos and aquariums around the world. Whatever it is, Pocket Zoo is a consistent winner with Zee. If nothing else, it taught her the differences between sharks and dolphins.
4. Count TV ($2.99. Sesame Workshop). This is the app that taught my daughter how to count to three before the age of two. No really, she can do it. Zee loves picking the number from the “remote” screen, then flashing on to one of nine videos from classic Sesame Street. It would be enough just to watch the videos — Grover counting blocks, Monsterpiece Theatre — but the folks at Sesame Workshop go one better. Mid-video, the image stops and Zee is encouraged to touch the screen and count things, while the Count’s voice encourages her. Truly clever.
5. Peekaboo Barn. ($1.99. Night and Day Studios). What is it about farm animals that so capture the imagination of a child? Peekaboo Barn capitalizes on that fascination. The red barn shimmies until Zee taps it and a familiar farm animal peeks out. Will it be the cow or the rooster? There’s no way of telling, except by playing.
My iPod has become a source of sanity at times when the grocery store line has become too long or the restaurant wait has gone on. It’s saved me from meltdowns on vaccination shot day and kept her occupied during lunch with my mother at the nursing home. Some days, I don’t know what I’d do without Mommy’s Little iPod.