Lots of kids I know love tablet computers: the bright displays, the multi-touch interfaces and the endless supply of media, games and books available make them big hits with the preschool set. Although pediatricians recommend limiting screen time (including TVs, computers and so on) for very young children, most parents do not find such limits very practical.
So instead of just AngryBirds or another episode of Caillou streaming over your Netflix app, here are some apps for iOS devices (iPads, iPhones and iPod touches) to try out with your toddlers and preschoolers that might also provide support for their preliteracy skills.
Letter Tracer ($.99) is a simple app based on a Montessori technique for children to practice writing letters. There are options that allow children to trace an outlined letter, and also the copy the letter without the tracing guide. It takes just a few taps to use, and allows parents to choose the letters in alphabetical order or to shuffle them to increase the challenge level. Parents can also enable a sound option that speaks the name of the letter
Singing Fingers (free) is a finger painting app that also records whatever you say (or sing!) while you “paint” in multicolored dots on the screen. When you are done painting, you can press and hold anywhere on the drawing and hear whatever you or your child was singing and saying. Try singing a favorite lullaby or rhyme while finger painting; connecting the sounds and rhythms of the song with busy fingers is great for kinetic learners.
Felt Board ($2.99) is a virtual space for creating multicolored flannel and felt stories. Choose from preset backgrounds and characters to recreate a favorite scene from any picture book in virtual felt. This app has many figures users can modify, including people, animals, plants and flowers, as well as letters and numbers. It is great to pair this app with an actual, physical felt craft so children also have a tactile experience with the material in addition to just the glassy interface made up of pixels.