Although you probably think your tablets and smart phones are great devices for communicating or surfing the web, your children know their real purpose — a killer game console. Especially those times when you’re sitting in gridlocked traffic or waiting on a slow-poke waiter to bring you a bowl of buttered noodles in a restaurant, you’re definitely going to end up handing off whatever mobile device you have on hand. So, not only will these fun apps assist in preserving your sanity, but your kids may even become sneakily educated in the process:
Shape Builder Preschool Puzzle (Murtha Design, Inc.)
The Shapebuilder Preschool Puzzle app by Murtha is a learning game where your child rearranges colorful jigsaw pieces to complete the puzzle — many of which are alpha-numeric representations combined with things that appeal to kids, such as animals or musical instruments. Once the puzzle is completed, it will change; for instance, a “10” puzzle, transforms into the number 10 accompanied by a picture of 10 trees and an auditory pronunciation of the word “ten.” A tuba becomes a detailed picture of a tuba with a snippet of tuba music, plus a voice saying the word "tuba." This app is available both for Android and iOS devices. $1.99
Kids Piano (Sunny Day)
The best time to develop and nurture musical talent is while your child is still young, and nothing is more fundamental to music composition than the piano. Download this Kids Piano app by Sunny Day, and your kids will have a colorful piano to play right on your mobile device. Each key is notated Hammerstein-style, with the do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti notes of the major musical scale. Game modes include either free-form play or specific songs — in the latter mode, the app indicates visually which note should be played. And two additional modes involve hitting a pop-up mouse and matching musical notes. The free “Lite” version is pretty similar, but it limits your song choices, game modes and other options. This app is available for Android and iOS devices. $2.49/$2.99
Math Attack (Chilis Apps)
Has your little Einstein-in-the-making gotten old enough to tackle some tougher math equations? The Math Attack app will give your kids the opportunity to try some tougher, timed problems in a fun, competitive format. There are varying levels of difficulty — the “easy” level involves straightforward equations like 72/4 and 8x2; hard equations, on the other hand, will throw curveballs like parenthesis, such as the equation (14x3) + 9. The app also includes a practice mode, where children may opt to exercise their brains with problems pertaining to addition, subtraction, multiplication, square roots, division, powers, multipart equations, etc. An in-app purchase will allow you to upgrade to “Pro” — this version includes Survival mode (where the right answer extends your time), and the Rounds mode, where you have to answer 9 out of 10 questions correctly to move on to the next round. Keep in mind that various apps exist named “Math Attack,” all by different developers on both iOS and Android — for purpose of this article, though, the Android app by Chilis Apps was reviewed. Free.