Kidloland – App Review and GIVEAWAY

The wonderful people at Kidloland are giving away THREE free 3-month subscriptions for Make Learn Go readers! Hooray! 

Enter here: Make Learn Go Kidloland Giveaway

My 3 year old, Tommy, loves his iPad! We are always hunting for new, educational apps and games to download, so I was thrilled when the kind people from Kidloland offered us an opportunity to try out their app! Kidloland is a super fun app for ages 0-5 filled with over 1000 wonderfully educational songs, stories, and games.

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Tommy was SO excited to try out this app, and immediately downloaded the vehicles songs. These fun songs and animated videos teach about all different types of vehicles and what they do, and I have heard Tommy walking around the house singing, “I’m going in a cable car, cable car, cable car, I’m going in a cable car up into the mountains…” among other catchy tunes about airplanes, boats, hot air balloons, hovercrafts, tractors, taxi cabs, and so so many more vehicles.  This section of the app makes my vehicle-obsessed preschooler very happy!

My favorite part of this app is the Phonics section. It has fun songs for each letter, singing the sounds that the letter makes at the beginning of different words, and then fun games and activities for each letter that repeat the phonics sounds throughout the games. I have been trying to teach phonics to Tommy for a while, but he has been bored by most other apps and teaching methods that we have tried. With Kidloland, he will play the phonics games and listen to the songs gladly, and then later in the day I hear him repeating songs like, “The A in apple goes a a a a…” while he’s in the bathtub, and I know that what he is learning is really sinking in. So great!

In addition to the phonics and vehicles sections, Kidloland also has dozens of nursery rhymes, stories (fables, early reading, animal stories, bedtime stories, seasonal/holiday stories, and more), 34+ games, activities (such as tracing, dot-to-dots, and puzzles) with a variety of themes, songs about the “magic words” such as please and thank you, “Create and Learn” activities about places and occupations with (puzzles, vocabulary words, and songs), 4 different versions of “The Wheels on the Bus” (because all little kids are obsessed with that song!), weather and seasons, dinosaurs, Old MacDonald songs about all different types of animals, more specific individual animal songs, fruits and vegetables, 4 versions of “Row Row Row Your Boat” (because kids can’t get enough of this song, either!), numbers 1-100, lullabies, colors and shapes, months and days of the week, and even Christmas songs!

And I love that you have the ability to download or remove content as you wish so that you have access to the downloaded songs and games for your kid to play while the device is offline and it doesn’t use up data streaming or take up all of your device’s memory storing content that your child is not currently using. The only issue that I have had with this app is that it will crash occasionally on my son’s first-generation iPad, but it runs seamlessly on my newer iPad mini.

After you download the free Kidloland app (available through the App Store (iOS), Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore), you are given free access to: 12 nursery rhymes; 8 animal, vehicle, and food songs; letters A-D and A-C phonics songs and activities, 2 games, and 3 stories. You can try out the rest of the subscription content with a 7 day free trial. For a monthly subscription price of $4.99 (or $39.99 for the whole year), your child will have access to the whole catalog of songs, games, and activities, and new content is added monthly so that they will never get bored with it.

Since starting our Kidloland subscription a few weeks ago, Tommy has all but forgotten about the other apps and movies on his iPad and always asks, “Mommy, can I play Kidloland?” He has played it almost daily, and it seems that he has still barely skimmed the surface of the content that this app has to offer.

 

Download the free app:

*I received this app subscription for free in exchange for my (and my son’s) HONEST opinions and review.

10 Ways I’m Preparing my Toddler for the New Baby

 

10 Ways I'm Preparing my Toddler for the New Baby

It’s amazing to think that in just about 5 short weeks (or less!), I will be a mother of two. It’s even more exciting to know that my firstborn (2 1/2 years old) will soon take on the very important role of big brother. T is very excited for the arrival of his baby brother, and, while I know that he will be a loving and supportive sibling, I also think that he does not quite understand how much having a new baby in the house is going to shake up our daily life. Ever since we started planning to get pregnant again, I have been thinking about how to best prepare my son (and myself) for dealing with both my pregnancy and the arrival of this new little bundle that will divide my time, limit my sleep, and change the whole dynamic of our little family.

 

Here are 10 things we have done to help our little guy prepare for his upcoming promotion to big brother:

 

1. Look at his baby photos together and tell him stories about when he was a baby.

I brought out a photo album and pointed to pictures of T when he was a baby and asked, “Who is this?” and his responses varied, from “It’s a cute baby!” to saying the name of his baby cousin, or simply “I don’t know.” He didn’t seem to believe me at first when I told him that the baby in the photos was, in fact, him!

I explained to him that he used to be a little tiny baby and how once he grew inside of my belly just like his baby brother is growing now. I told him about how mommy and daddy were so excited to meet him and about the day that he was born- how he stayed awake for hours and didn’t even want to eat because he just wanted to look up his family. I showed him pictures and videos of when he learned to roll over, when he had his first taste of baby food, and when he learned how to crawl and then walk. We talked about how it has been so exciting to watch him grow up from a little baby into a big boy and how soon he will be able to help teach his baby brother how do to those things as he grows bigger.

 

2. Spend time around little babies. 

I have been trying to get T to notice babies everywhere we go. I point out babies napping in strollers when we go for walks, babies sitting in shopping carts at the grocery store, and babies playing on the floor at the library. I try to point out things about the babies we see, like “See the baby’s pacifier? It helps him relax.” or “Look at the baby crawling. That’s how she moves around. Be careful not to step on her!” or “That baby is asleep in the stroller. Shhh, let’s try to be very quiet when we walk by so we don’t wake him up!”

The best learning opportunities come when we get to spend time up close and personal with babies of friends or relatives. For tiny babies, we practice how to safely touch the baby’s toes or give the baby a toy to hold. By spending time with a little baby, he gets used to hearing the baby cry and sees how a diaper change or shushing and rocking can help to relax the baby. He gets familiar with the concept of breastfeeding. When we get to play with older babies, he learns about how the baby may not be able to walk or talk yet, but it can still be fun to make the baby giggle, roll a ball with the baby, or let the baby chase him around by crawling. We learn about what toys and foods are not safe to share with the baby and how to play gently so that he doesn’t hurt or scare the baby.

 

3. Take him along to an ultrasound appointment and let him see the baby and hear his heartbeat. 

When I scheduled my 19 week appointment with my OB/GYN, I picked a time when I knew that my husband and son would be able to come with me. I had shown them the sonogram photos from previous appointments, but since I knew that this would be a longer ultrasound, I thought it would be a fun for them to experience it with me. T thought that it was so neat hear the baby’s heartbeat, and he was thrilled to get to see his baby brother’s image wriggle around on the screen. The ultrasound tech made sure to point out to him where the head, feet, and other body parts were, and printed off a picture for him to take home. After we got home, he kept asking me if he could “See baby brother on the TV,” again. He was very disappointed to learn that we don’t have the proper equipment at home to view live sonograms on our TV, but I put the printed sonogram up on the fridge where he can see it, and every time I get a new one, I show it to him and we put it up on the fridge. Seeing the pictures of baby brother growing makes him excited and he understands that it’s getting closer to the day when baby brother will be big enough to come out and meet him.

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4. Read books and watch movies and shows about babies together. 

There are so many great resources for kids to help teach them about babies. My son is a big fan of the PBS Kids show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and there is an awesome series of episodes about Daniel welcoming his baby sister into the family. They talk (and sing!) about the day the baby comes home from the hospital and how life changes after the baby joins the family. Daniel has a very sweet relationship with his parents and baby sister, and this is a great example to kids about how love grows when a baby joins the family.

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There are also a lot of great books available for young kids that help them understand pregnancy and babies. Some that we have enjoyed are Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller, A New Baby is Coming!: A Guide for a Big Brother or Sister by Emily Menendez-Aponte & R.W. Alley, and I Am a Big Brother by Caroline Jayne Church (there is also a big sister version of this book). My 2 1/2 year old big-brother-to-be requests to read his “baby books” when it’s reading time, and he is genuinely interested and asks questions and points to things in the illustrations as we read. Waiting for Baby is a simple board book that focuses on mommy being pregnant and how he can help prepare for the baby’s arrival. A New Baby is  Coming! is a longer book (we paraphrase so it keeps his attention), and it goes into more detail about the emotions that he might be feeling as he anticipates the birth of the baby and how things will change when the baby joins the family. I think of it as a What to Expect When You’re Expecting for big brothers and sisters. I Am a Big Brother is a sweet book by one of my favorite board book author/illustrators that depicts what daily life will be like after the baby comes and what some of his special new big brother duties will be. He has even started pointing to the little boy in I Am a Big Brother and saying things like, “Tommy can sing to the baby,” as he imagines himself in the place of the big brother. It melts my mommy heart!

 

5. Sort through his old baby things together and let him choose a special gift to give to the baby.

Since we are expecting another boy, most of his clothing and toys will consist of hand-me-downs from when T was a baby. I sat him down with me as I sorted through bins of his old baby clothes and explained that these itty bitty clothes no longer fit him, but they will be the perfect size for baby brother. He didn’t react much to the thought of passing down his onesies and swaddle blankets to the baby, but when I pulled out the bin of baby toys, the nostalgia kicked in for him. He didn’t pay any mind to the teethers and rattles, but he remembered his favorite play mat, activity table, and a few other cherished baby toys. I let him play with his old toys and asked him if he would be willing to share the toys with the baby soon and teach him how to play with them. He agreed, and I reminded him that he will have his special big boy toys that baby brother will be too little to use, so they can both use different toys and be happy.

Ever since T was a newborn, his very favorite toy has been a little lovey plush puppy blanket. He calls it his “pup pup” and he sleeps with it every night and snuggles it extra close whenever he is sick or upset. When we were at the store one day, I let him choose a special lovey that he can give to the baby. He chose a little blue elephant with a silky edge just like his pup pup. I told him that when the baby is born, he will be able to give him the present and he will be so happy to have a special lovey just like his big brother.

 

6. Involve him in setting up the baby’s space and let him get used to having the baby’s things in the house.

As my third trimester nesting instincts have kicked in full-force, I have recently set up the baby’s space in our bedroom with a diaper changing area, a small dresser, and the baby’s bassinet. I have sanitized all of the bottles and found a place for them in the kitchen cabinets. Within the next couple of weeks, I plan to install the infant car seat in the back seat next to T’s car seat and to set up the baby’s bouncer in the living room. Having some of the baby’s things in place has helped T get used to maneuvering around new furniture and equipment when he plays, and it has also been helping him to visualize where the baby will be when he sleeps, bathes, gets dressed, and plays. It has been helpful for me to show him where he will be able to find a clean diaper to help me out when baby is on the changing table, or how to gently rock the bassinet rather than jerking it around.

 

7. Practice some of his big brother duties using a newborn-sized teddy bear.

In addition to practicing proper behavior around the baby’s gear, T has been excited about learning how he will be allowed to interact with the baby. We took a newborn-sized teddy bear that he has named “Baby Brother Bear,” and we have been using it for practice. He has helped me swaddle, dress, and diaper the bear. I have been keeping the bear in the bassinet and T asks me for permission if he wants to hold it, so I can set him up on the bed or couch with a pillow and help him hold the bear like he would hold a baby. He periodically will bring the bear a toy or a pacifier or turn on lullabies for it. I remind him not to smack the bear or poke its eyes. It has been very sweet to watch my rough and tumble toddler interact with the bear so gently, and has reassured me that, when the baby replaces the bear soon, he will understand how to approach the baby carefully and responsibly so that he doesn’t hurt or scare him.

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8. Encourage independence and helpfulness in his daily routines.

Before I got pregnant again, I tried to envision doing everything that I do on a daily basis while suffering from constant nausea and fatigue and periodically having to run to the bathroom to vomit. Then I imagined doing it all with a giant belly, swollen feet, and an aching back. Then I pictured doing everything with a baby in my arms or in a wrap snuggled against my chest. I thought about what I could do differently throughout the day to limit lifting, bending, and squatting during my pregnancy and in the postpartum weeks while my body heals from childbirth. I imagined T calling for me to help him while I  nurse a hungry baby. I realized that a big part of making this transition easier for all of us would be to encourage T do more things independently.

As soon as I saw that plus sign on the pregnancy test, I got more strict about having T clean up all of his toys so that I don’t have to get on my hands and knees to pick things up off the floor. I started making him hold onto the handrail and climb stairs independently rather than giving in to his whining when he wanted to be carried up and down the stairs. He has been practicing dressing and undressing himself and gathering his shoes, socks, and coat when it is time to go somewhere. We are a month into potty training and he has learned how to tell me when he needs to go and how to flush the toilet and wash his hands on his own. He has even been helping me out more with daily chores- helping me load and unload the dishwasher, putting groceries away, dumping his clothes from his laundry hamper into the washing machine, and throwing away his own trash after he finishes a snack or a juice box. He is proud of himself when he helps out, and I like that he is getting in the habit of doing more things without my help now so that it doesn’t upset him in a few weeks when mommy’s hands are occupied and I won’t be able to help him with everything that I used to.

 

9. Incorporate more independent play and quiet time into his daily activities. 

Along the same lines as teaching T to not need my help as much with his daily routines, I have been trying to get him used to not having me available as a constant playmate. I have been stepping back a bit while he plays to encourage him to entertain himself without me always being available for a tickle fight or to play hide and seek. I have also been trying to work in more quiet time activities like puzzles, books, and art so that when I need to sit down to feed the baby or put him down for a nap, T will be able to happily and quietly entertain himself without waking the baby. And I have been stocking up the DVR with episodes of his favorite shows and updating the apps on his iPad so that he will have something to do while he cozies up next to the baby and me in bed or on the couch during those first few weeks when I will be feeling a little groggy and sore.

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10. Let him name the baby!

Yes, we let T choose the baby’s name! After months of deliberation, my husband and I finally narrowed our name search down to a list of 3 names that we liked, and then I presented the names to T and asked him which one he thought would be the best name for baby brother. He chose a name, and then later in the day I presented the names to him again (in a different order), and he chose the same name again. When I asked him if he was sure that this is what we wanted to name his brother, he said, “Yes! I love that name!” So, it is decided! He’s so excited about it and has been calling the baby by name, and I’m thinking that we might have to make this a tradition with any future children we may have- to let the youngest child choose the name for the baby. 🙂

Any other expectant mamas out there working on getting older kids ready for baby’s arrival? What are some ways that you have helped prepare the big brother or sister for their new sibling joining the family?

Share your experiences in the comments, or share a picture or tip on Facebook or Instagram @makelearngo.

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3 Christmas Tree Learning Activites for 2-3 Year Olds

  

Tommy is a big fan of Christmas trees, but I didn’t want to bother with one this year knowing that we will be out of town for half the month of December and won’t even be home on Christmas Day. Instead, we hung Christmas lights around the house, are making frequent visits to the big lighted trees scattered around town, and have been doing a lot of Christmas tree crafts!

Here are some quick and easy Christmas tree projects that double as learning activities and cute decorations to hang up for the holidays:

1. Number Match Christmas Tree

For this number match activity, I cut a tree out of a green foam sheet and wrote numbers 1-20 scattered over it. Then, I numbered some foam stickers with numbers 1-20 and set them out for Tommy to match them to the numbers on the tree.

*To simplify this project, you could put the numbers on the tree in ascending or descending order rather than mixing them up like I did. And you could hand the stickers to your child one by one to match instead of laying them all out on the table.

**Also, you could do only numbers 1-10 to make it easier or up the challenge for older kids by making a larger tree with numbers 1-30, 1-50, or even 1-100!


2. Color Match Christmas Tree
 

For this color match activity, I drew a Christmas tree on a sheet of white paper and scattered dots in a few different colors all over the tree. (I used Do-a-Dot markers.) Then, I set out some pom poms in the same colors and let Tommy match them to the colored dots on the tree. When he found a match, I squeezed out a bit of Elmer’s glue and he glued the pom pom in place.

*For an even simpler variation on this activity, use colored stickers instead of pom poms.

3. ABC Match Christmas Tree

 For this ABC match activity, I cut a tree out of green construction paper and topped it with a star sticker. Then, I drew a few lines across the tree to be the strings for the Christmas lights and wrote lowercase letters a-z along the lines. Next, I cut small ovals out of colored paper to be the lights and wrote uppercase letters A-Z on them. I set them out on the table with a glue stick and let Tommy get to work matching the uppercase to the lowercase letters and sticking them in place.

*To simplify this project, match uppercase to uppercase letters or lowercase to lowercase. 

**To make it more challenging, mix up the letters on the lines so they are not in alphabetical order. 

***For older kids, you could even match short sight words instead of letters!

Now it’s your turn! 

10 Must-Haves for a Road Trip with a Toddler

Roadtrip Essentials - Toddler

This past 4th of July weekend, we drove to Philadelphia to visit my sister and her family. This was our first major road trip with Tommy since our cross-country move from CA to NC when he was 4 months old. Road trips with an infant are no easy feat, but I was even more worried about attempting a long drive with a two-year-old. When T was an infant, we had to pull over often to nurse him and change his diaper, there were multiple changes of clothes for all of us, and we cleaned up a lot of messes that came out of both ends of the baby. But, he also slept more than he was awake, and while he was awake, he was content smiling at his reflection in the car seat mirror, sucking on a pacifier, or playing pat-a-cake with me. With a two-year-old, I faced the possibility of him throwing a tantrum through 5 different states and refusing to sleep for one minute of the 7 hour drive.

Luckily, we came prepared and the drive to Pennsylvania was a success… besides T shouting “I’m stuck!!” a few times at the top of his lungs (toddler translation: “Get me out of this car seat, now!”) and some serious screaming when he was jolted awake when Daddy had to brake suddenly while navigating some awful traffic (which added an extra couple hours to the drive). We drove home in the evening to avoid traffic, and Tommy actually stayed awake (and happy!) until 12:30 AM, which was amazing because then he slept in when we got home around 1:30 AM (so we could sleep in, too)!

For the details of how we survived our road trip with a 2-year-old, read on below for my list of 10 must-haves for a road trip with a toddler:

Roadtrip Essentials with numbers - Toddler

1. Laundry Basket: A small round laundry basket is the absolute best way to store items that I will need easy access to throughout the drive. Not only is it easy to transport, but it also allows me see all of the contents of the basket without having to dig to see the items at the bottom of the bin. We picked one up for $1 at Dollar Tree and packed it full of snacks and activities for the drive.

2. 13 x 9 in Cake Pan: Bringing a rectangular cake pan along for the road trip is a total game changer! It is the perfect size to serve as a little lap activity tray in the car seat, and the raised sides keep items from falling onto the car floor and getting lost under the seats.

Some of the items we brought to use in our cake pan/activity tray:

  • Toy cars & trains– I drew a little map with a road and train tracks and placed it in the bottom of the cake pan. Tommy LOVED it!

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  • Stickers, markers, crayons, & paper: The raised edges of the pan keep the art supplies from rolling onto the floor. Stickers keep a toddler’s attention for a long time, as they can be stuck not only to paper, but also to arms, clothing, and foreheads.
  • Play dough & tools: I rolled out some play dough in the bottom of the pan and threw in some cookie cutters and plastic utensils for easy entertainment!

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  • Building blocks: I brought along a small bag of LEGO® DUPLO® blocks and tossed them into the cake pan. T had fun building structures, and since the blocks click together, we didn’t have to worry about the block towers spilling all over the place when Daddy put on the brakes.
  • Puzzles: I brought along a small $1 foam alphabet puzzle from Dollar Tree. The cake pan gave him a flat surface to lay out the pieces and complete the puzzle while keeping it all neatly contained.

3. Sound Books: Books with sound buttons kept T entertained without me having to sit in the back seat and read to him. He had fun playing the songs in his Thomas the Train sound book, and we could turn on the radio in the front of the car so we didn’t have to listen to it.

4. Convertible car seat with a cup holder: Tommy quickly goes into a panic if he doesn’t have his sippy cup on hand the very moment he gets thirsty. A car seat with a cup holder ensures that he will have his drink close at hand when he needs it and it won’t roll onto the floor and under the seat. Tommy loves his Evenflo Symphony LX All-in-One Car Seat. Not only does it have two built-in cup holders, but it is super cozy with cushioning by the head perfect for dozing. The cover is also removable and machine washable, which makes it easy to keep clean.

He always uses a sippy cup with a straw and a lid that screws on to minimize the risk of spills in the car.

5. Snacks: Perhaps the most important thing to pack for a road trip is the snack bag!

Some good road trip snacks for toddlers:

  • Fruit snacks
  • Clif Kid Z Bars
  • Raw veggies- baby carrots, mini cucumbers & celery sticks (if your toddler will eat them)
  • Veggie straws
  • Fruit/veggie squeeze pouches
  • Pretzels
  • String cheese

Snacks to avoid in the car:

  • Crumbly crackers & cookies
  • Snacks with itty-bitty pieces (puffs, cereal)
  • Fruit that will mush (bananas, peaches, pears)
  • Fruit that will drip & stain (watermelon, oranges, berries)
  • Gum and sticky candies
  • Snacks covered in orange cheese powder (Cheetos, Doritos, cheese puffs)

Also, the cake pan came in handy as a serving tray for snacks throughout the drive!

6. Bib with a pocket: When it’s time to eat, I throw a bib my little road trip buddy! I love the silicone bibs by Ulubulu– there is a big pocket to catch falling crumbs and drips, and then I can easily wipe it clean when he’s done eating.

7. Garbage bags: I always keep a few tall kitchen bags rolled up in the back seat pocket. Besides the obvious use to hold food wrappers, wet diapers, and tissues, you can fold a garbage bag in half and lay it across your lap as a makeshift place mat. It can also save the upholstery to contain a mess in the instance that somebody gets carsick.

8. Smartphone with a data plan: This is a must-have for the grown-ups in the car! There are so many helpful apps out there that make the trip easier for everyone:

  • For navigation, Waze helps us anticipate traffic jams and accidents (and suggests alternate routes), as well as alerting us to upcoming stoplight cameras and police cars to help avoid tickets.
  • If we need to find a nearby place to stop to eat, the Yelp mobile app helps us find a restaurant that fits our budget and taste.
  • I use Road Ninja to find upcoming gas stations, fast food, and rest stops.
  • If we need to stop over somewhere for the night during a long drive, we use the Hotwire app to find a great deal on a hotel and book it right from my phone.

One of the very best uses for a data-enabled smartphone is the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot. The iPad that Tommy uses is Wi-Fi only, but his tech-savvy Daddy taught me how to set up a hotspot to connect the tablet to my iPhone’s data plan. T having internet access in the back seat meant that he could watch endless kid-friendly videos using apps like PBS Kids and YouTube Kids so I didn’t have to fork over $20 for a single season of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

9. Tablet: In addition to movies, music, and e-books, my iPad is set with two screens full of apps just for Tommy that can keep him entertained for hours! For a full description of Tommy’s favorite apps (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) check out our Favorite Art, Shapes, and Colors Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers, and our Favorite Games & Video Apps for Toddlers.

10. Bedtime Items: So that Tommy had less of a chance of skipping naptime during the drive, I moved all of his comfort items out of his crib and into the back seat of the car. When it was time for him to sleep, I tucked him in with his favorite blanket, his little stuffed Elmo, and his “pup pup” lovey blanket that he always sleeps with in his crib. A small pillow is also helpful to prop up the drooping head.

Some other ways that I survive road trips with a toddler:

  • I keep wipes, diapers, a changing pad and a change of clothes in the back seat pocket directly in front of Tommy’s car seat for easy access.
  • I dress him in comfortable, easy-to-remove clothes and shoes. Pants with an elastic waist and no buckles or zippers are best for quick diaper changes, and slip-on shoes allow him to remove them himself and slide them back on easily when needed. I like to have him wear something that is cozy enough to sleep in, so that I can easily transfer him right to bed if he is asleep when we arrive at our destination.
  • I keep hand sanitizer in the center console at all times! Gas stations and rest stops are full of germs- I try to remember to use hand sanitizer on the whole family before returning to the car and digging our hands back into the tube of Pringles.
  • When he gets restless in the car, I move to the back seat and keep him company. He likes to talk about what he sees out the window (“blue car,” “big tree,” “airplane”), sing songs with hand motions (“Wheels on the Bus,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), and to have me read books to him.
  • If time allows, we try to stop at kid-friendly spots to stretch instead of just gas stations and restaurants. After being confined to a car seat for hours, moving straight into a high chair at a restaurant is not fun for the little guy. He is thrilled if we let him burn off some energy by running around a park while we eat lunch at a picnic bench instead. A plus if there is a scenic spot for a photo-op, like this park we found just minutes off the freeway in Richmond, VA.

11403400_1690763834488884_107700619930078715_nDo you do a lot of long-distance driving with little ones? What are your must-haves and tips for the road? Share in the comments!

And if you have any air travel plans coming up with little ones, check out our 10 Must-Haves for Flying with a One-Year-Old.

Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

With the 4th of July just a few days away, I thought it would be fun to do a patriotic art project with Tommy.  The problem is, he has been so obsessed with playing with his toy cars lately that it is hard to get him to want to do anything else. The cars have been sitting next to his plate during meals, riding along with him in the car seat and stroller, going swimming in the bathtub… he even insisted on taking “green car” and “yellow car” to bed with him a couple nights ago and fell asleep clutching one in each hand.

So, I decided to let his cars come to the art table with us… and we ended up making fireworks painted with wheel tracks! We kept it patriotic and coordinated by using a red car for the red paint and a blue car for the blue paint. Fun, festive, and he didn’t throw any fits because he got to play with his cars throughout the entire project! Hooray!

Hot Wheels Fireworks Painting

For this project, you will need:

  • Large sheet of white paper
  • Blue and red water-based washable paint
  • Palette or plate (for paint)
  • Two Hot Wheels cars (or other small toy cars)

To make your Hot Wheels fireworks painting:

1. Grown-up: Lay the sheet of paper on a flat surface. Squeeze a bit of each color of paint onto your palette and wiggle the palette a bit so that the paint spreads out to form flat puddles rather than globs.

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2. Child:  Take one of the Hot Wheels cars and drive it right through the red paint puddle. Then, drive the car across the paper so that the paint transfers from the car wheels onto the paper. Drive the car through the paint again and then roll it onto the paper again, fanning the tire tracks out from a central point to make a fireworks shape.

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3. Child: Repeat step 2 with the other car in the blue paint and make as many fireworks as you wish.

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4. Grown-up & Child: Set the painting aside to dry, and be sure to rinse the paint thoroughly from the bottom of the cars so that you don’t end up with paint tracks on your carpet and furniture! (Just regular hand soap and water in the bathroom sink worked for us.)

OPTIONAL: Once the paint is dry, trace over some of the fireworks with glitter glue to add a little sparkle!

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Have fun with this project, and don’t forget to share your results with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

Favorite iPad, iPhone & iPod touch Games & (FREE!) Video Apps for Babies & Toddlers

Favorite Games & Video Apps (iPad & iPhone) for Babies & ToddlersI’ll wrap up our series of posts about Tommy’s favorite apps (for iPad, iPhone & iPod touch) by sharing his favorite games and video apps. Some of these apps are educational and some are purely for fun. All of them keep him busy and put a smile on his face. Read on below for a round-up of some of the most entertaining apps that Tommy has loved, categorized by age.

Favorite Games for 0-1 Year Olds:

  • Giggle Gang – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

FP_Giggle GangThis app was one of Tommy’s first favorite games on my iPhone. It is essentially the same as the Laugh & Learn™ Shapes & Colors Music Show app by Fisher Price. Level 1 has six cute characters that pop up when you tap the screen. When you tap on them, they giggle, and you can even record your own little one’s giggle. Level 2 has all of the characters up on a stage. When you tap on a character, it will come forward and dance to a little jingle about its name. After you have tapped the characters a few times, they all perform a song together. There is also a little piano at the bottom of the screen that plays notes when you tap it. This sweet app is great for young toddlers and babies.

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  • Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

FP_Storybook1Another great app by Fisher Price, this one flips through two nursery rhymes (One, Two Buckle My Shoe and The Itsy Bitsy Spider) page by page. For each nursery rhyme, you can choose to either “Read & Sing” or to “Read & Play.” The “Read & Sing” option sings the song as it highlights the words and a short animation plays for each page. “Read & Play” follows the words to the rhyme as it is narrated. If you click on the different parts of the interactive pages, objects and characters move and make sounds. At the end of the “storybook” for either option, the whole song plays with an adorable animated scene. Lots of fun for little ones!

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  • Storybook Rhymes Volume 2 – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

FP_Storybook2This app is exactly like Storybook Rhymes Volume 1, except with two different nursery rhymes: Row, Row, Row Your Boat and The Animal Fair.

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  • Storybook Rhymes Volume 3 – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

FP_Storybook3Again, this is identical t0 Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 and Storybook Rhymes Volume 2 , except with two new nursery rhymes: Hickory, Dickory, Dock and Pat-a-Cake.

    

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  • Elmo Calls – Sesame Street – $1.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Elmo CallsMy Elmo-loving boy thinks this app is great! It basically lets your little one receive phone calls and video calls from their best buddy Elmo. There are even silly voice mails they can listen to. When they get a video call from Elmo, a little screen shows up in the corner using the front-facing camera to show what you are up to (like FaceTime or Skype). T loves watching himself almost as much as he enjoys watching Elmo. It’s a very cute app!

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  • Cookie Calls – Sesame Street – $1.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Cookie CallsThis app is exactly like Elmo Calls, but with Cookie Monster instead. There are funny video calls, phone calls, and voice mail messages featuring your pal Cookie Monster. If you have a Sesame Street fan in the house, buy the bundle and get both apps!

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Favorite Games for 1 & 2 Year Olds:

  • Laugh & Learn™ Where’s Puppy’s Nose? – Fisher-Price – Free – iPad

FP_Where is PuppyThis is a great game for kids who are learning their body parts! Level 1 lets you tap on a body part on Puppy and it tells you what it is called. Level 2 asks you “Where is Puppy’s ___?” and you have to tap on the right body part. There is also the option to switch to the Kitty character. Both have a cute little frog sidekick that waves and dances. It’s a simple game with cute music and fun animation- great for toddlers!

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  • Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer – Sago Sago – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Sago Mini OceanThis is a really funny game! It’s such a simple concept- you just drag a little fish through the ocean and as you approach different objects and characters, he interacts with them. You can explore from the water’s surface down to the sea floor and scroll on and on in either direction. As you move along and tap on things, creatures pop out, the fish hides, he puts on costumes, eats things… the options are seemingly endless! Every time we play this game, I see something that we haven’t found before.

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  • Bugs & Buttons – Little Bit Studio, LLC – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Bugs and ButtonsYou get so much for the price with this app! The graphics are beautiful and realistic, and there are 18 different games to choose from. Toddlers will need assitance playing some of these games, but many are simple enough for a one-and-a-half or two-year-old to play independently. Games include flinging bugs onto a flower with a slingshot, completing patterns with colored buttons, counting bugs, tic-tac-toe, catching bugs, sorting colored buttons, picking apples, connect-the-dots, catching buttons as they fall off a moving truck, helping a bug get through a maze, sorting colored fireflies into jars, bug races, navigating a flying butterfly around obstacles, finding hidden bugs, a picture matching memory game, and a letter train. This app cleverly teaches kids hand-eye coordination by adding obstacles into the games and having them manipulate the screen in a variety of ways by tapping, dragging, pulling, pushing or pinching objects on the screen and even physically tilting the screen to help objects move. There is so much educational value in this app and hours upon hours of entertainment. It is an app that will grow with your child so that they will love it for years. Worth every penny and more!

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  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel – PBS KIDS – $2.99 (or buy Daniel Tiger Collection bundle of 3 apps for $5.99) – iPad

Daniel Tigers NeighborhoodThese apps are so great- especially for a little one who loves Daniel Tiger as much as mine does! This app has 5 games included. You can play with a doctors kit, use various instruments to make music that shows different emotions (happy, sad, angry), explore the bathroom (flushing the potty, brushing teeth, washing hands), help put Daniel to sleep, and create a picture using different scenes and stickers (or even your own photographs). Very fun, educational, and cute, cute, cute!

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  • Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings – PBS KIDS – $2.99 (or buy Daniel Tiger Collection bundle of 3 apps for $5.99) – iPad

Daniel Tiger Grrific FeelingsThis app is all about feelings (as many episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are). There are 4 games within this app. The music box plays little videos with 18 different songs about specific feelings. The drawing easel lets you make a picture using markers, crayons, paint, stickers, and photos. The feelings photo booth uses the front-facing camera and asks you to take photos making faces showing certain emotions (also demonstrated by Daniel Tiger). The trolley game is Tommy’s favorite part of this app. It’s a little board game where you use a spinner with different shapes and move the trolley along to corresponding markers on the board. Then you complete a series of mini-games to help move the game along. The photo booth pictures are also positioned along the game board showing the different emotions. Very fun, and T has learned a lot about feelings and how to interact better with others by playing this game!

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  • Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night – PBS KIDS – $2.99 (or buy Daniel Tiger Collection bundle of 3 apps for $5.99) – iPad

Daniel Tiger Day and NightThis app goes through the steps of Daniel Tiger’s songs that remind him the processes of getting ready for school as well as getting ready for bed. In the “Good Morning” part of the app, you wake up Daniel Tiger, then help him get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, and head off to school on the trolley. The different steps have a lot of options within them… for example, for the “eat breakfast” step, you help set the table, then add toppings to Daniel’s pancakes, and finally you can watch a silly animation “imagining” your decorated pancake dancing. The “Good Night” part of the app lets you help Daniel take a bath, brush his teeth, put on his pajamas, read a story and sing a song, and then go to sleep. The “Good Night Daniel” song and video are so sweet, and T could watch this part over and over again. The “brush teeth” step of this game is the most simple, but has been great for us. T used to scream and fight every time I brushed his teeth, but after helping Daniel Tiger brush his teeth in the morning and before bed, he has learned that it’s not so bad after all. We LOVE this app!

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Favorite FREE Video Apps for Babies & Toddlers:

  • PBS KIDS Video – PBS KIDS – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

PBS kidsThis app is T’s favorite for watching videos. It is so easy to navigate, with a sidebar showing character icons to help little ones easily scroll between all of the PBS Kids shows. T’s favorites are Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Super Why, and he can easily find them by choosing the picture of the corresponding character. They can watch full episodes of the shows, as well as video clips. Amazing!

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  • Nick Jr. – Nickelodeon – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Nick JrFor free, you can choose video clips to watch from various Nick Jr. shows, and if you log in with your cable account, you can watch full episodes and even live TV. The main menu is a little jumbled, but shows all of the different shows in one place, or you can tap the “Friends” icon at the top of the page to choose a specific show by selecting an icon with a character’s picture (similar to the PBS Kids app). This is a great app!

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  • YouTube Kids Youtube – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

YouTube KidsT could scroll through this app all day long if I let him. It has music, video, learning and exploration channels, and all are totally kid-friendly! The content is uploaded from all over the world, so there are fun shows that kids here in the U.S. won’t find on TV. I swear he’s learning Russian from all of the episodes of “Masha and the Bear” that he watches! There are also these strange videos just showing hands opening plastic Easter eggs and playing with cars that he LOVES. And Tayo the bus! He loves this app!

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What are your favorite toddler games and video apps for iPad, iPhone & iPod touch? Any that we missed? Share in the comments below!

And don’t forget to check out our Favorite ABC & 123 Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite Art, Shapes & Colors Apps for Toddlers and our Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers.

FREE Printable Gift Wrappers for Olives, Pistachios, and Toblerone

With Father’s Day coming up, I decided that I wanted to give some yummy treats to my husband. He’s an amazing father to our little boy, and he always appreciates a good snack.

So I grabbed some tasty things that I know he likes to eat: pistachios, kalamata olives, and Toblerone Swiss chocolate. But it seemed too simple and boring to hand him the snacks in their original packaging and I didn’t want to just throw them in a gift bag or basket… so I decided to put my design skills to work and make some cute custom wrappers for them.

Free Printable Gift Wrappers- Olives, Pistachios, Toblerone

I chose a color palette that coordinated with the snacks that I chose and worked in some cheesy little sayings that will make him smile and let him know that he is loved and appreciated.

I designed these for Father’s Day, but I decided to keep any mention of the holiday off of the printables so that they can also be used for birthdays, thank you gifts, anniversaries, and other occasions. 

 

You can download the FREE PRINTABLES below:

Olive You

Nuts

Toblerone1

Toblerone2

Toblerone3

 

To assemble the wrappers:

  1. Download and print the .pdf files by clicking the links above.
  2. Cut out wrappers along the solid colored edges (or along the dotted lines for the white areas)
  3. Fold along the solid gray lines where it says “Fold Here.”
  4. Fit the wrapper into place so that it covers the original product packaging and secure with tape (or secure with a single staple at the top of the bag for the pistachios).

 

Would you like to see more free printables like this from Make Learn Go? Feel free to leave any suggestions and requests in the comments!

Countdown Calendar for Out-of-Town Parents

My husband travels quite a bit for business, but it’s usually only one or two nights once or twice a month. This past week, though, Dada went away on a week-long “man trip” to hike and mountain bike in Utah, and I was worried about how  little Tommy (23 months old) would handle it. He LOVES his time with his daddy and has certain routines that revolve around their time together, so I knew that 7 nights with just mommy would be a challenge. T will ask for Dada every night when he expects him to come home from work and then again in the morning when my husband routinely gets him out of his crib and changes his diaper while I slowly drag myself out of bed.

In an effort to help T understand that Dada was going on a trip, I brought him to the airport with me to say goodbye and send him off. I explained to him that Daddy was going on an airplane and would be home in seven days. He said his goodbyes and seemed okay with it, and I realized that he did understand that Daddy was traveling when we were out later that day and he kept pointing at airplanes in the sky and saying “Dada! Dada!”

But when we were at home later that night, he started looking around the house for Daddy and getting upset. I knew that there had to be a better way to help him understand that Dada would not be home for a few more days, but that he would indeed come home eventually. So, I decided to make a little countdown calendar.

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I just drew a simple calendar with the days of the week from the day Daddy left to the day that he would return (Monday through Monday). Then, rather than listing the actual date, we counted down the number of nights left until he would return. On the final day, we pasted a picture of Daddy. Then, each morning when T woke up, we would go to the calendar and put an X through the previous day. Any time during the day that Tommy asked for Dada, I would take him to the calendar and point to the number and ask him “How many more nights until Dada comes home?” and he could look at the calender and tell me.

After the second night with the countdown calendar, he understood what was going on and stopped looking for Dada at bedtime and in the morning, and instead would tell me “Dada airplane” or “Dada bye bye” or “See you soon Dada.” It made him excited to see the days getting crossed off and was a great visual to help him comprehend that each day that passed was getting closer to the day when he would get to see his daddy again. On the final day, he kept shouting “One day Dada home!” to all of our friends and neighbors.

We will definitely be doing this from now when my husband goes out of town, and it would also be a great idea if we ever get a chance to go on a getaway together and have to leave him overnight with a babysitter or relative. It could work, too, for a little one with a sibling going away for summer camp, or even to look forward to an event, like a countdown starting the week before grandma comes to visit or a birthday countdown.

Do your little ones have a hard time when a parent goes out of town? What are some tips that help you pass the days? Share in the comments!

Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers (iPad, iPhone & iPod touch)

Favorite Puzzle & Sorting Apps (iPad & iPhone) for Toddlers

T is a puzzle addict… we have spent so much time over the past year sitting on the floor doing various types of peg puzzles and shape sorters, so I was thrilled to discover that there are so many great puzzle apps available on my iPad and iPhone (and for iPod touch, too) that are appropriate for his age. We have also started playing little match-the-image games and color sorting games, and these sorting apps that I discovered by Tiny Hands are so awesome to practice those sorting skills! These apps save me from having to gather bins of little same-colored or same-shaped knick knacks to set up my own sorting activities. I’m all about less clutter, and these apps allow puzzles and sorting games without all of the tiny pieces sprawled across the floor, getting lost and stepped on!

So, here we continue our round-up of Tommy’s favorite apps with our favorite puzzle and sorting apps for toddlers!

Favorite Puzzle Apps:

  • Shape Builder – Murtha Design Inc. – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Shape BuilderThis is a great puzzle app! You can try it out for free with just a few different puzzles to choose from, but we upgraded to the full version soon after downloading because T loved it so much! The puzzle pieces have unique shapes and are matched together as plain silhouettes of different colors. Then when all the pieces are put together, the completed puzzle image is revealed. Very fun and great for developing visual problem solving skills!

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  • ABC Alphabet Puzzles – Codegent – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

ABC PuzzlesThis is a cute app that has a puzzle of one animal beginning with each letter of the alphabet. You can try out a few puzzles for free, or upgrade to the whole alphabet for $2.99. The puzzles are challenging with uniquely shapes pieces, but not so hard that a toddler would get too frustrated with it. It’s a way to practice visual problem solving skills, animals, and ABCs all in one place. Great app!

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  • Shape-O! ABC – Bellamon – $1.99 – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Shape-O ABCsThis app has pretty puzzles with objects made up of simple geometric shapes. Each puzzle also has letter tiles to spell a word, and it says the name of the letter when you drop it into the correct place. This app gives your little one the option to change the colors within the puzzle for pretty new variations of the puzzles as well. If the child gets stuck, they can click the eye icon above the puzzle and it will automatically place a piece for them. There is background music that plays, and the option to mute the music also. You can change the complexity of the puzzles to simple, medium, or hard and you can also choose to have the words removed, with letter hints, or without letter hints. There is also an option to have either uppercase or lowercase letters in the words. This is a great, inexpensive app that can grow with your child as their puzzle and ABC skills increase.

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  • Animal Match Up – BabyFirst – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

Animal Match UpThis is a fun app that matches animal heads, bodies, and tails. For free, you can get the safari animals. The child just has to swipe their finger up or down to scroll through different animal parts until they find the ones match with the same animal and color. Once the correct pieces are lined up, it tells the name of the animal and then mixes up the body parts again. For $2.99, you can upgrade and get 45 more animals to mix and match, with five themes including jungle animals, farm animals, underwater creatures, and birds. We haven’t upgraded because he gets enough entertainment from just the one free set of animals.

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  • Little Puzzles Preschool Games – Grasshopper Apps – Free – iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch

PuzzleThis app is comprised of four-piece square picture puzzles. You can adjust the difficulty level by taking away the picture guides and increasing the number of puzzle tiles. You can even make your own puzzles using your photos! Super fun and totally FREE!

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Favorite Sorting Apps:

  • TinyHands Sorting 1 – TINYHANDS APPS – Free for first 3 game boards (open all 15 boards for $3.99) – iPad

TH-Sorting 1TinyHands makes very fun and intellectually engaging sorting apps. This app has 15 different boards to choose from, each one with a different type of sorting game. There are shape sorting games, color sorting games, games where you match objects  by size, and more advanced games where you sort items by the season they belong to or match animals to their homes. There is a cute little character that pops up after you complete a board and you can pop the balloons to make him fall down. T absolutely loves that part! Designed for ages 2 and up.

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  • TinyHands Sorting 2 – TINYHANDS APPS – Free for first 3 game boards (open all 15 boards for $3.99) – iPad

TH-Sorting 2This app is just like Sorting 1, offering 15 new sorting boards designed for ages 2 and up. This one includes different types of shape sorting boards, a board sorting vehicles by whether they fly or drive on a road, dressing a child for the rain and one for warm weather, sorting sticks by whether they are oriented vertically or horizontally, and sorting objects at the beach by whether they belong in the water or on the sand. This app is very fun and so engaging and educational for toddlers!

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  • TinyHands Lotto 1 – TINYHANDS APPS – Free for first 2 matching boards (open all 10 boards for $3.99) – iPad

TH_LottoIn this app, the child simply matches images to their corresponding image. It teaches vocabulary words, saying the name of each object as it is matched. There are 10 matching boards total. Like Sorting 1 and Sorting 2, there is a little character that enters the screen after a board is completed. This one drives a little car that blows bubbles that you can pop. There is also a little frog that sits at the bottom of the screen that will blow up like a balloon and float away if you tap on him.

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  • TinyHands First Words 2 – TINYHANDS APPS – Free for first 2 matching boards (open all 10 boards for $3.99) – iPad

TH_First WordsI don’t know why this app isn’t just called Lotto 2 (or why Lotto 1 isn’t called First Words 1). This is the exact same app as Lotto 1, just with 10 new matching boards total. Designed for ages 2 and up, but simple enough for younger toddlers to do. This (and Lotto 1) would be fun to work on together with a one-year-old to help learn new words.

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  • TinyHands What’s My Pair 1 – TINYHANDS APPS – Free for first 3 matching boards (open all 12 boards for $3.99) – iPad

TH_Whats My PairThere are 3 boards in Level 1 of this app, including colors, facial expressions, and musical instruments. Level 1 is very basic like Lotto 1 and First Words 2, except in this app you match the images side by side and they disappear after you match them. Again when you finish a board, there is the little animal that floats up with balloons that you can pop. There are 4 levels with 3 boards each (a total of 12 boards). I have not upgraded to the full app yet, but it appears that the matches get more challenging with matches including quantities of objects, silhouettes to objects, one side of an object to another side of a symmetrical object, and colors to fruits. This upgrade will probably be our next iTunes purchase- the harder levels look like a fun challenge that T would enjoy.IMG_0513  IMG_0515IMG_0672

Are there any other great puzzle or sorting apps for toddlers that you love? Share in the comments! Or just download these ones, try them out, and let us know how you liked them!

Stay tuned for one more post about Tommy’s other favorite apps- and don’t forget to check out our Favorite Art, Shapes, and Colors Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps for Toddlers, and our Favorite Games & Video Apps for Toddlers.

Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps (iPad, iPhone & iPod touch) for Toddlers

Here we go with our roundup of Tommy’s favorite ABCs &  123s apps! Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps (iPad & iPhone) for Toddlers I attribute much of T’s alphabet and number recognition skills to the use of these apps. When he started using the iPad to learn letters and numbers, his interest in it soared and now he is more excited about practicing using real puzzles, flashcards, magnets, books, etc. The iPad made letters and numbers more interesting to him, and now he just can’t get enough! He is 22 months old and can recite the entire alphabet on his own, can identify all of his letters (uppercase and most lowercase), and knows many of his phonics sounds. He can count up to 13 on his own and can identify numbers up to 10. These apps are excellent practice for him and he’s learning more every day! Favorite Alphabet Apps:

  • Elmo Loves ABCs – Sesame Street – $4.99 (Free for lite version with letters A, B & C only) – iPad

Elmo Loves ABCsMy boy is obsessed with Elmo, and, thanks in large part to this app, he is now also obsessed with his ABCs! He started using this app when he was just over a year old and he has absolutely loved it. My nieces (who are 3 and 5) aren’t even big Sesame Street fans, but they enjoy this app, too. You can choose any letter from the menu and then it asks you to trace the letter to open the next screen. The “tracing” doesn’t have to be precise… he could swipe his finger over the letter a few times and get past this step when he was about 13 months old. Then you can watch Sesame Street video clips about the letter or you can choose from the side bar to open a drawing page or a hidden objects game. There is also the option to open a screen that asks you to touch a specific letter (uppercase and lowercase) or an object that starts with a specific letter, and then it shows you a video clip relating to that letter and picture. The whole game is narrated by Elmo. Very cute app with tons of educational and entertainment value- it’s worth every penny to upgrade to the full game and practice the entire alphabet! IMG_0453IMG_0456IMG_0457IMG_0458IMG_0460IMG_0454

  • Laugh & Learn™ Learning Letters Puppy – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

FP_PuppyLike the other Fisher Price apps, this one is very simple and is a good starter app for young toddlers and babies. In addition to ABCs, this app also teaches numbers 1-10 and shapes and colors. From the home menu, if you tap the ABC button, your little one can tap their way through the alphabet. Every time they tap the screen, it will bring up the next letter in the alphabet with a cute animation of an object or animal that starts with that letter, followed by the alphabet song after the letter Z. If you tap the 123 button on the home menu, your child can tap the screen and see numbers and animations counting up to 10, followed by a counting song. The shapes button on the home menu is the same thing but for shapes and colors. When you tap once, it tells you the shape, then a second tap tells you the color of the shape. There are also 2 cute shapes and colors songs. The music notes button on the home screen lets you cycle through the various songs that are included in the other parts of the app. IMG_6726  IMG_6729  IMG_6730IMG_6731  IMG_6737  IMG_6744

  • Endless Alphabet – Originator Inc. – $6.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

Endless AlphabetI was skeptical about paying $7 for an app that didn’t have a “lite” version that we could try out first, but Endless Alphabet turned out to be a paid app that is definitely worth the money spent! This adorable app has a bunch of words that you can choose from, and then you match the letters to the word like a puzzle. The letters make their phonic sound and turn into cute little monsters when you touch them. Once the puzzle is completed, a little animation plays with a monster acting out what the word means. You can also click the word bubble at the top of the page to hear a definition of the word. Tommy loves this one and I love how much he is learning from it. New words are constantly being added (hence the use of the word endless in the app’s name). There is definitely endless fun and learning to be had with this app! IMG_0540  IMG_0542IMG_0543  IMG_0546

  • AlphaTots Alphabet – Spinlight Studio – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

Alpha TotsThis app is great! From the home screen, you can choose a letter of the alphabet, and a voice will say the name of the letter as well as the phonics sound (or sounds) that the letter makes. I love hearing Tommy repeat the phonics sounds back- it’s a fun way for him to practice! Then it enters into a mini-game centered around performing an action word that begins with that letter. For example, ADD candles to a birthday cake for the letter A, or FIX a broken bicycle for the letter F. There is a new mini game for each letter of the alphabet. This is different and fun, since most alphabet apps (as well as kids books, puzzles, and toys) focus on nouns like animals, household objects, or foods rather than adjectives. From the menu, you can also tap the tab that has an “Aa” with arrows to switch to lowercase letters (which only changes to lowercase letters in the menu, so this option doesn’t really do a whole lot). If you click the tab with music notes, you can to hear the alphabet song and the corresponding letters show as the song is sung. The “A-Z” in a circle at the bottom of the menu opens a screen where you tap on each letter of the alphabet in order and hear it- to practice reciting the alphabet in the correct order. This is a great app for toddlers to practice their ABCs and sharpen their problem solving skills at the same time through the mini games. IMG_0547  IMG_0549 IMG_0550  IMG_0648

  • abc WOW! – Bologna Games – Free (upgrade to full version for $2.99) – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

ABC wowThis is a very fun and easy to use app with bright colors, cute music, and lovely artwork! This app uses only lowercase letters, which I like. Most ABC apps show the lowercase letter alongside the uppercase letter, but rarely alone. Many don’t even include lower case letters at all! This is a fairly simple app, so it works well on a small screen. I keep this one on my iPhone for the little rascal to play with when we have a particularly long wait in the car or if he is starting to lose it at a restaurant while we wait for our meal. The free version only includes a few letters and the ABC song, but if you upgrade, the menu will give you 3 options. The the top “letters” button lets you see the letters of the alphabet one by one. When you touch the letter, it turns into a cute image that starts with the letter and also looks like it. Super cute! The “find the letter” option on the menu gives you 4 lowercase letters and asks you to find a specific letter. When you tap the correct letter, it turns into the image of the object and tells you “a is for apple” or whatever the letter and object are. The “abc song” option sings a fun version of the classic ABC song with the letters showing up in order as the song goes along. IMG_6004   IMG_6800   IMG_6801IMG_6005   IMG_6802   IMG_6006

  • ABC Alphabet Phonics – Innovative Investments Limited – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

ABCThis app is very basic, but excellent for learning! It just puts a few letters up on the screen and asks you to touch a specific letter. It makes a little error sound if you choose the wrong letter, and the narrating voice offers praise after each correct answer, saying things like “Super!” and “Sweet!” I have heard Tommy saying things like “Perfect!” when we are playing a game together and I do something right, and I’m pretty sure he’s learning it from this app. The best part about this app (besides the fact that it is FREE) is that the settings offer so many ways to customize it to your child’s learning level. You can change the difficulty by displaying anywhere from 1 to 10 items at a time. You can choose from the library to show any combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and phonic sounds, as well as many different options of letters with fun little illustrations next to them. A great learning tool for toddlers! IMG_0539

  • Little Matchups ABCInnovative Investments Limited – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

Little Matchups ABCThis is the best app for learning to match lowercase and uppercase letters! We just downloaded this one recently, and T has been choosing to use this app a lot. I thought that it might seem kind of boring to him, since there’s not a whole lot to it, but he seems to really enjoy it. He has been working on taking a couple of lowercase letters and matching them up with their corresponding uppercase letters and vice versa. This app also offers a lot of customization options in the settings. You can choose to display between 1 to 8 items, show letters with animal illustrations or plain, and you can even add in letter sounds. Instead of a letter, it will show a little button that you tap to hear the phonic sound and then you match the correct letter to that sound. What an awesome (and FREE!) app for learning letters! IMG_0645 Favorite Numbers Apps:

  • Laugh & Learn™ Let’s Count Animals for – Fisher-Price – Free – iPad

FP_CountingThis cute app is a great first numbers app for young toddlers or babies. I doesn’t require any action other than tapping to hear the name of the animal and number and tapping the arrow to move on to the next number. After the number six, there is a short animation and the song “Six Little Ducks,” and after the number 10 there is another sweet song about visiting the zoo. The animations and songs are adorable and a fun way to introduce your little one to numbers 1-10! IMG_0449  IMG_0450

  • Elmo Loves 123s – Sesame Street – $2.99 (Free for lite version with numbers 1, 2 & 3 only) – iPad

Elmo Loves 123sThis app is equally as loved by Tommy (and Mommy!) as the Elmo Loves ABCs app is. It teaches the numbers 1 through 20 similarly to the Elmo Loves ABCs app- through tracing, videos, and games. From the home screen, if you tap on Abby Cadabby, you enter a game where you have to match the correct number of objects to a certain number of characters. For example, give one T-shirt to nine chickens. Then, you tap the check mark when you think you have the correct number and Abby will tell you if it is correct or not and move you along to another step of the game. Different steps ask you to add or subtract objects to get a new number. This is a great part of the app to work on together. If you tap on a number from the main menu, it opens a screen where you trace the number. Again, the “tracing” is very easy and just swiping a finger over it a few times will unlock the next screen. From the next screen, there is the option open a videos screen where you can watch 3 different Sesame Street video clips about the selected number, to open a coloring screen with 3 different coloring pages featuring the number, or to open a games screen. The games screen is the part of this app that Tommy likes best. There is a game where you grab the correct number of a certain type of animal and drop them into a bucket. There is another game where you have to find the number hidden in a scene. And there is a puzzle game with a few different versions of 6 and 9 piece puzzles featuring the number. This app teaches so much more than just numbers! A must-have for toddlers and definitely worth much more than the $2.99 it costs! IMG_0461  IMG_0462IMG_0463  IMG_0464 IMG_0465  IMG_0466IMG_0467  IMG_0469

  • TallyTots Numbers – Spinlight Studio – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

Tally TotsThis is the numbers version of AlphaTots, and it is just as much fun! The main menu shows numbers 1-20, and if you tap a number it brings you to a mini game that helps practice counting to that number. It’s great because if you tap on 8, it will start counting from 1 up to 8 and then it will open the mini game. I have heard Tommy counting along with this app and it is so great to see him counting! The mini games are really fun and have options like putting 10 shapes in a puzzle, adding 17 pennies to a piggy bank or feeding 19 acorns to a chipmunk. T thinks the games are so funny, and I love knowing that he’s learning, too! From the main menu, the circle at the bottom with music notes sings a cute song that counts to 20 and shows the corresponding number of images from the mini games. The “123” circle at the bottom of the menu page opens a screen with the numbers 1-100 that you tap in order to count along to 100. Since Tommy started playing this app last week, I have seen him lining up his toys and pointing to count them- something he was never very interested in when I tried to do it with him. We LOVE TallyTots! IMG_0649  IMG_0651 IMG_0652  IMG_0653

Do you have any favorite apps for learning letters and numbers? Share in the comments! Or just download these ones, try them out, and let us know how you liked them!

Stay tuned for one more post about Tommy’s favorite apps- and don’t forget to check out our Favorite Art, Shapes, and Colors Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers, and our Favorite Games & Video Apps for Toddlers.