If you don’t know how to use an iPad, ask a preschooler

Last year when my daughter was three a friend of ours came over to babysit. I was giving her a few examples of things she could do with Chelsea to keep her occupied and suggested the iPad as one of the options. My friend, who is around 60, said, “Beth, I don’t know how to use the iPad.” To which I replied, “Don’t worry, Chelsea does.”

It was true. I got an iPad when Chelsea was two and she’s been using it ever since. She doesn’t use it every day but it didn’t take her long to know how to turn it on and off, get into apps (including her own folders), swipe, make things larger or smaller with two finger gestures, and more. In fact, she’s become so used to using touch capability using the iPad that last year I had to remind her a few times with both our MacBookPro laptop and the TV that she can’t touch their screens to make things happen for her!

She’s now using my stylus to create drawings in a couple of different iPad apps.

If you’re parenting an iPad kid and are curious about what kids’ apps we’re using, here are five of our favourites:

#1 Adobe Ideas

Collaborative Chelsea/Beth visual using Adobe Ideas

Chelsea and I both are using Adobe Ideas these days to create hand-drawn images with our stylus. (You can check out some of my handiwork here.) We’ve got the chunky AluPen from JustMobile but I’m in the market to find something with a smaller nib for myself for more fine-detail image creating. The AluPen’s rounded nib is just fine for Chelsea though and it’s length – only 12cm – is perfect for holding in her four-year-old hand. One of the neat features of this app is that you can pull colours from photos that you have in your photo library and make them into colour palette themes. In the above image, I drew the saguaro cactus outline upon Chelsea’s request, and she filled in the rest.

#2 Drawing Pad

Chelsea's visual on Drawing Pad

Drawing Pad is a great little app with a lot of neat features for kids. It’s got “stickers” that you can pull into your picture, make different sizes and rotations and stamp into place, various backgrounds like the birthday party-themed one above, and lots of different pencil/paint brushes and pens to create different effects. One of the effects Chelsea likes best is the coloured star, heart and bubble washes that you can see above.

#3 Monkey LunchBox

Monkey LunchBox

A friend suggested the Monkey LunchBox app to us recently when we had a plane trip to take, and it was a great app to help Chelsea pass the time on travel day. It’s full of counting, matching and “which one doesn’t belong” games, all featuring a cute little monkey and various types of fruit. Kids can collect “stickers” of various designs in between the rounds. Caveat: The only problem with this app is that the audio is a little annoying for adults. Volume “low” or “off” are my preferred settings if I’m nearby when she’s playing it!

#4 Magnetic ABC

Magnetic ABC

We’ve had this app since the early days of owning the iPad and Chelsea still likes it because she can, again, make her own creations. You pull “magnets” out of the bottom dock into the main picture area and can change the dock’s sets by scrolling on the yellow wheel edges at either side of the dock. The letters, numbers and images are cute and new dock sets come available now and then. Some extra sets of magnets are available for a slight cost. We haven’t purchased them all but Chelsea seems content that she can’t use everything she sees because there are lots of open sets that she can use.

#5 Matching Zoo

Matching Zoo

Matching Zoo is just a fun matching “concentration” game with – you guessed it! – zoo animals. The designs are cute and each animal has its own sound when you touch it. A great app to test your child’s memory skills and learn about some different animals such as the armadillos and flamingos pictured above.

What iPad apps are you using with your family or on your own? Do you have any suggestions for creative painting and drawing apps that haven’t been mentioned? I’d love to hear!

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