Here we go with our roundup of Tommy’s favorite ABCs & 123s apps! 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
My 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!
- Laugh & Learn™ Learning Letters Puppy – Fisher-Price – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
Like 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.
- Endless Alphabet – Originator Inc. – $6.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
I 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!
- AlphaTots Alphabet – Spinlight Studio – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
This 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.
- abc WOW! – Bologna Games – Free (upgrade to full version for $2.99) – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
This 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.
- ABC Alphabet Phonics – Innovative Investments Limited – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
This 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!
- Little Matchups ABC – Innovative Investments Limited – Free – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
This 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! Favorite Numbers Apps:
- Laugh & Learn™ Let’s Count Animals for – Fisher-Price – Free – iPad
This 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!
- Elmo Loves 123s – Sesame Street – $2.99 (Free for lite version with numbers 1, 2 & 3 only) – iPad
This 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!
- TallyTots Numbers – Spinlight Studio – $2.99 – iPhone, iPad & iPod touch
This 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!
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.