Living in a Digital World: Top 10 Educational Apps for Preschoolers

Digital media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Avoiding it completely is impossible, but you can make sure that your child only has access to the best, most enriching programming options available. Here are our top 10 picks for great educational apps for preschoolers:

1. PBS Kids Games

As a parent, the carefully curated, educational content from PBS always puts my mind at ease. This app is free (huge bonus), and features literally dozens of different games that star your child’s favorite PBS characters. 

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon

2. PBS Kids

The PBS Kids app is like having your local PBS station in your pocket. Your child is able to access a full library of enriching PBS shows anytime, totally free of charge. It’s the only video app that I’ll allow my child to use! 

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon

3. Preschool Arcade

Your child will feel like they’re at an arcade while playing this app’s four educational games: ABC Invasion, Pinball 123, Claw-Crane Matching, and Whack-a-Mole. The animation and real-life sound effects will captivate your kids while teaching them alphabet recognition, basic counting, and improving their cognitive development. 

Price: $0.99
Available on: iPhone, iPad

4. AlphaTots Alphabet

Toddlers can learn their ABCs by building robots, digging for treasure, and zapping alien spaceships, along with 26 other action verbs that help guide them through letters and sounds. The app features 26 puzzles and games all geared towards helping your child learn the alphabet.

Price: $2.99
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android

5. Moose Math

This app introduces math concepts to your child in a fun setting. Visit the Moose Juice Store and practice counting, addition, and subtraction by making a smoothie, or swing by the Lost and Found to group similar objects together. By solving these problems, kids earn rewards to help them build their own city and decorate the buildings—a great form of motivation to keep them learning.

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android

6. Preschool Basic Skills: Space All in One Learning Adventure A to Z

Land UFOs, explore extraterrestrial lands, vacuum space, save the aliens, and much more. This fun-packed preschool educational adventure takes you out of this world to start a journey of learning. Have fun tracing letters, shapes, and numbers with aliens, or play 6 engaging mini-games to learn the names of shapes, letters, numbers, and colors. This app focuses on the mastery of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, shapes, colors, and numbers 1-100. The mini-games on this app also help preschoolers refine their fine-motor and memory skills.

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, and Amazon

7. Elmo Loves ABCs

Recipient of both the ON for Learning Award and the Parents’ Choice Silver Award, this app teaches young children all about the alphabet. Touch and trace your favorite letter to unlock its surprises, personalize by adding your own photos and videos to the game, and an ABCs tracker for grown-ups to see how your child is doing. Children will learn about: letter identification (uppercase and lowercase), letter sounds, letter tracing, art, and music appreciation.

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, and Amazon

8. Tongo Music

This beautiful app introduces toddlers to the fundamentals of classical music. Its design is flexible and open-ended, giving children limitless ways to play. Tongo takes your child on a musical journey by playing classical music as a character plays “The Swan” on his animated cello or “The Nutcracker” on his flute. Tongo introduces these fundamentals through play and exploration instead of rigid levels, encouraging curiosity and further experimentation. 

Price: $2.99
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android

9. Super Why Phonics Fair

Parents’ Choice Silver Award Winner! Kids ages 3-6 celebrate as they learn reading, word-building, and phonics skills through classic carnival-themed games. Play five Super Reader literacy games that focus word building, reading, and phonics skills. Features: interactive literacy games designed for phonics practice, word families that are needed to learn to read, stickers that kids can earn and decorate within the Phonics Fair Prize Booth, and parent tools, including a Progress Tracker and device notifications that allow you to follow your children’s progress with each word family.

Price: $4.99 or included with an Amazon Kids Free Time subscription
Available On: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Amazon

10. The Cat in the Hat Builds That!

Based on the PBS KIDS series, “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That,” this app introduces pre-k kids to science inquiry and engineering (STEM) concepts through games tailored to their learning progress. Kids can build bridges, explore friction through slides and sort fun objects in fantastical lands along with the Cat in the Hat, Nick, and Sally. As kids play, they earn rewards to decorate their treehouse and backyard and unlock games that let them tinker and explore in their own way. Includes simple and fun hands-on activities that parents and kids can do together, extending the STEM fun to home and everyday materials.

Price: FREE
Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon

Do you have a favorite app for your kids? 

Screen Time Recommendations

While screen time may feel like a battle in your home, few things can make a long road trip or plane ride go more smoothly than handing your child a tablet. While healthy boundaries regarding screens will always be important, research is starting to show that the quality of and parental interaction around your child’s screen time may be a more important factor than the overall quantity of screen time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: 

  • For children younger than 18 months, discourage the use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • For parents of children 18 to 24 months of age, choose high-quality programming/apps and use them together, because this is how toddlers learn best. Letting children use media by themselves should be avoided.
  • In children older than 2 years, limit media to 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming. Recommend shared use between parent and child to promote enhanced learning, greater interaction, and limit-setting.

At Virginia Academy, we believe that learning happens not only in a classroom environment but in every aspect of a child’s life. Children are little sponges, soaking up as much information as possible, and you want to give them the best foot forward. Want to learn more about nurturing your preschooler’s developing mind? Start here.