59282 Best Games To Tame Your Toddler Brett Nolan iPhone Life 1528-5456 2010-09-23 NovDec2010_BuyersGuide 2 5 44 Apps Games

My three-year-old, Emily, is smitten with "Daddy's favorite toy." After a timid start, she's quickly mastered the swiping, tilting, and tapping of my 2nd Gen iPod touch. Like any child, she loves playing games, and we've downloaded a number of apps that entertain her, but also offer an enriching learning experience.

iWriteWords

$2.99, app2.me/197; Free "Lite" version, app2.me/2640; other variations of this app available

imageThis game helps to teach your child how to draw letters and numbers. Using her finger as a writing instrument, your child guides "Mr. Crab" along numbered paths to successfully form the given characters. Once the letter (or number) is completed, it is presented in the child's own handwriting. She must then tilt the device to guide the newly drawn character to the exit. One particularly nice aspect of the game is that, while it does allow for some margin of error, it also provides immediate feedback if your finger strays too far from the path. This encourages your child to redraw it until it's correct. Both fun and engaging, iWriteWords is Emily's number one go-to app when she turns on the iPod. Since she started playing it, I've noticed a marked improvement in her ability to distinguish the lowercase letters.

FirstWords: Deluxe

$4.99, app2.me/189; other variations of this app available

imageThis wonderful game helps toddlers develop word-object matching skills, along with language and letter recognition. With over 140 words in a variety of categories, including animals, home, vehicles, colors and shapes, your child is bound to find something of interest. The app displays a grayed-out word, a beautifully drawn image representing the word, and individual tiles with each letter in the word. Your child must drag the tiles to the matching letter on the grayed-out word. Once a word is successfully matched, the entire word is spelled out again, read aloud, and the app displays a cute little animation. Finally, your child can tap on any individual letter or on the image of the object and it will be pronounced out loud, in a pleasant, clear voice.

FirstWords does a very nice job of reinforcing the material in an enjoyable way, and kids will not even realize they are learning. The developer offers less expensive, single-category versions of FirstWords (as well as a Spanish-language version), but the Deluxe version offers a wider variety objects.

Tickle Tap Toddler Pack – Preschool Learning Games

$4.99, app2.me/2642

imageThe Tickle Tap Toddler Pack is a collection of five games designed to educate your child and bring out her creativity. SOUND SHAKER is a fun sound-making game that places a variety of balls on the screen. When your child shakes the device, the balls bounce off one another to create different melodies. FIELD FLIER lets your child explore an exciting day in the life of Robin the bird. COUNT CADDY offers an enjoyable way to learn counting. SORT SLIDER helps to develop shape matching skills. Finally, PATTERN PAINTER helps your little one learn to draw different shapes and recognize patterns.

All of these games have cute characters and animations that I'm sure your toddler will love as much as my Emily does.

Honorable Mentions

Elmo's Monster Maker ($3.99, app2.me/2822) lets your child create or customize their own Muppet monster and then interact with both it and Elmo, while playing games, dancing to music, and more.

Giraffe's Matching Zoo Deluxe ($0.99, free version available, app2.me/2824) is a fun matching game with over 30 cute animals, funny sounds, and a selection of board sizes to meet all skill levels.

Color Me !!! ($0.99, iPad and free version available, app2.me/2825) is virtual coloring book; no mess and you can take it with you wherever you go.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Preschool Storybook Piano ($0.99, app2.me/2826) is a creative piano app that allows your toddler to explore his or her musical side with a collection of instrument sounds and even has the option to record their beautiful singing.