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Keep Your Toddler Happy with These Free Educational iPhone Apps

written by: Kyra Lennon•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 8/1/2011

iPhone apps might not seem like the best way to get your toddlers learning their ABCs. Not only does it mean letting a small child handle your phone, apps that are used for learning are usually expensive. The good news is, there is a huge range of free educational iPhone apps for toddlers available.

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    Toddler Teaser Shapes

    Toddler Teaser Shapes 

    Toddler Teaser Shapes is a very colorful app that will quickly engage your toddler's attention. On the screen, a selection of three different shapes are shown. A voice asks the child to identify a certain shape, and they have to choose the correct one. If they get it right, they hear either applause or cheering. If they get it wrong, they are told the name of the shape they guessed incorrectly, so they are still learning, even when they get the answer wrong. Once they have guessed four or five correctly, they earn a sticker. The stickers are of various things, including food and animals. The child can select one, then they get to place it on their own personal sticker page to create a picture. After each sticker, the amount of shapes to pick from gets bigger, presenting more of a challenge.

    The beauty of the Toddler Teaser Shapes app is that it gives toddlers a reward for their work. Kids love to get a treat when they have done something well, and even though the prizes are just virtual stickers, it is enough to keep them coming back for more.

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    Farm Jigsaw Puzzles 123

    Farm Jigsaw Puzzles 123 

    Some toddlers may have a hard time putting a real jigsaw puzzle together, but Farm Jigsaw Puzzles 123 is a free educational game for your mobile which gives them an easy way to make small puzzles to create a farm scene. The idea of it is to give the feel of a simple jigsaw puzzle while teaching the basic names of things they might see on a farm, including a cow, a duck and a horse. It won't take them a very long time to complete the farm scene, but it is cute enough that they will want to play on it a few times before they get bored and move onto something else.

    There are additional scenes you can purchase if you think your toddler will get some use out of them, but there is no need to buy them unless you think it will be worth the money. The app is good enough, even without the extras.

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    My Alphabet Coloring Book

    My Alphabet Coloring Book If you want to help your little one learn their alphabet, the My Alphabet Coloring Book app is a smart choice. While other toddler iPhone apps may skimp on appearance, this one is the perfect combination of simple and interesting. The first page of the app shows the letter "A" in both capital and sentence form. Underneath is a picture of an apple, with the word spelled out below. At the very bottom of the screen is a menu bar. The left and right arrows move back and forth between letters, the zoom in and zoom out buttons give children a closer view of their work, and finally a color wheel to turn the white page into something much more attractive. Tapping on the color wheel brings up a selection of colors your child can choose from to brighten up the picture on the page. To color in the picture, they simply tap the place where they want the color to go, and it fills it in for them. You can also use the color chart as an additional learning game alongside teaching them the alphabet.

    For very young toddlers, you may have to sit with them for a while before they really get used to the way the menu works, but once they have got the hang of it, you will soon see an improvement in your child's letter recognition.

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    Read Me Stories

    Read Me Stories 

    A perfect bedtime storybook app for your toddlers is Read Me Stories. This is a modern take on the books you used to be able to buy that came with a cassette tape so you could listen and read at the same time. It comes with a selection of six beautifully illustrated stories for your toddler to enjoy, and all they have to do is choose the one they want, then relax and listen. The narration is lovely, and isn't at all monotonous like some kids talking books can be. Toddlers will need to learn to click on the arrow in the corner of the screen to turn the page, but that is as difficult as it gets.

    Each of the books included with Read Me Stories is part of a series, so if your child enjoys them, you can choose to purchase additional stories too. If not, it is still an excellent app to help your toddlers learn to read.

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    Match Batch

    Match Batch 

    Matching pairs is a classic game for young children and teaches them basic memory skills. Instead of buying multiple packs of matching pairs cards, you can download Match Batch on your iPhone, which will save you a lot of money. Match Batch comes with no less than 36 different card games. Among the topics are sea creatures, cats, monsters, and farm animals. The games can be played by up to four people at a time, which means you can use it as a family activity too. The best thing about this app is that it actually grows with your child. The simple games are perfect for toddlers, but as they get older, some of the match games get a little more challenging. For example, the last 13 games are all about mathematics, which will aid your child's ability to quickly add, subtract or multiply.

    As free educational iPhone apps for toddlers go, Match Batch is probably the best there is in terms of play value and the length of time you children can continue to use it.

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    When you think about helping your toddlers to learn simple skills, it's normal to get a vision of the expensive products that are often advertised on television. While educational apps aren't a substitute for your time and attention, they are a brilliant and cost free way to help improve the basic knowledge they already have. Learning doesn't have to be done through conventional methods. Sometimes equal benefit can come from the unusual and less costly ways.