Best iPhone applications for your preschooler

by doodaddy on August 25, 2008

Handing your iPhone to a toddler is crazy, you say?
And I respond, “Why? It’s going to crash every half hour anyway!”

I’m not that reckless, really. Boobaby’s pretty good with electronic equipment — she reprogrammed the car’s oxygen sensor this morning — so I wasn’t too worried about how she’d treat my $200 chunk of not-very-much (but oh-so-delicate) metal.

And besides, we were flying.

Get in an airplane with a napless, constipated two-year old and all rules about entertainment are off: we’d let her watch Canadian ice-fishing bullfight porn if it would keep her occupied.

But Boobaby is an interactor: if we have her watch a movie, she’ll soon be singing about the plot at the top of her lungs. (Pilots freak out when they hear “NEMO and MICKEY! And SHARKS SHARKS SHARKS!” sung to the theme from The Love Boat.)

So in preparation for the flight, I got a bunch of potentially distracting iPhone apps to try out on her. Here are the very unscientific results of our little test, in descending order by how long Boo was distracted by each one.

1. Scribble.

image Total distraction time: about 29 minutes.

This is a simple (and free!) drawing program: you touch a color and pull your finger around the screen and you get a drawing. But, most importantly, there’s pink, and so Boo will ask to play this over and over. The cutest part: when Boo touches a color on the screen, she examines her fingertip to examine the dollop of ink she believes to be there.

[iTunes Link]

2. 300 Bowl.

imageTotal distraction time: about 17 minutes.

Boobaby’s actually astoundingly good at this game, which requires only a simple finger flick to send the pins flying with a satisfying clatter. Her best score is 145, although I managed to beat that pretty easily by staying up until 3 a.m. playing over and over again.

[iTunes Link] — Hurry, it’s half price this week!

3. Preschool Adventure.

image Total distraction time: about 10 minutes.

This app isn’t bad, although not really very educational — the matching isn’t really matching. You just click the pink sea anemone and it says, after the fact, “pink sea anemone.” Still, Boo seemed pretty into it, if only briefly, and for a dollar, it’s not bad.

[iTunes Link]

4. ABC Letters.

image Total distraction time: about 5 minutes.

This one will probably work when she’s a little older. Some of the fonts display the letters in a completely illegible form, sadly — this one needs a little work. Still, Boo does seem to be getting something out of it.

[iTunes Link]

5. Bubbles.

Total distraction time: about 30 seconds. Mom and dad distraction time: hours and hours.

image Another free one: All you do here is drag to create ethereal bubbles, then tap to pop them. Boo got the idea and decided it was boring pretty quickly. Working Mom and I — well, we’re sort of addicted, sorry to say.

[iTunes Link]

I’d also give an honorable mention to “Matches,” although it’s a little clunky and not really age-appropriate for us. How about y’all fellow followers who’ve succumbed, like I have, to these infernal devices? Got any baby-with-the-iPhone favorites?

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tagged as , , , , in activities,Doodads,iPhone,Tips for Doodaddies,toys ·

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Manda August 25, 2008 at 3:13 am

What a great break down! LoL. I don’t have an IPhone but my cheap little cell does distract my sometimes screaming 1 year old in the back seat. If I set it to make obnoxious bell noises when she presses the keypads. But than however it sets off my 3 year old who wants to play with it too. So in general – I have considered purchasing the family plan to keep everyone happy. That’s what it’s for right? Have a happy Monday!


Rayne August 25, 2008 at 7:46 am

Dizzy Bee free or Dizzy Bee $2.99 are both AWESOME and keep my 3 and 3/4 year old occupied for hours. HOURS I tell you.


Michele Shores August 25, 2008 at 8:32 am

This is funny and whatever keeps them quiet right?


cryitout August 25, 2008 at 2:04 pm

I think the app store does sell a canadian ice fishing bull fight porn game — it’s awesome! Not kid friendly, I suppose — but still pretty neat.


Aimee Greeblemonkey August 25, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Totally agree! And those keep even a 1st grader happy too!


Aimee Greeblemonkey August 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Oh, and ditto on Dizzy Bee, Dex loves it.


Aimee Greeblemonkey August 25, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Oh, and the Jirbo matching games!


Writer Dad August 26, 2008 at 10:33 am

“we’d let her watch Canadian ice-fishing bullfight porn if it would keep her occupied.”

Funniest thing I’ve read all day. Thanks. I really like your blog. I found myself on Alltop, and didn’t know what it was. I came over to check out my neighbors and I’m really glad I did. I’ve found some great sites. I just subscribed to yours.


doodaddy August 27, 2008 at 12:47 am

Thanks, everyone! Can you believe I hadn’t even seen the “Jirbo” one? The iPhone App Store search is pathetic.


techymom August 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Labyrinth LE is free and fun. You try to roll a ball through a maze without it getting stuck in a hole. My 4 year old likes to watch me suck at it. Hours of giggles.

Oh, and don’t neglect the iPod part of the iPhone. The Sesame Street Podcast is great, and also free. A rip of her favorite movie (currently Sailor Moon, I kid you not) will keep any kid quiet on a plane.


doodaddy August 27, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Thanks! We’re not quite up to tilting yet, but I’m sure we’ll get there in a year or so.

And yeah, we’re complete Sesame Street Podcast junkies — we love funny words. Boo still uses “gigantic” and “pumpernickel” and loves to shout “It’s a mystery! It disappeared!” when we can’t find something.


Jacqui August 28, 2008 at 7:43 am

Thanks for these ideas and the comments are great, too. I found you with a Google search.

My 2-1/2 year old niece LOVES "Bubbles", I barely walk in the door and she says "I wanna play Bubbles".

"Tap Tap Revenge" is a good game with rhythm but she’s not quite coordinated enough for it.

"More Cowbell" mimics Christopher Walken in his SNL skit. You can shake the iPhone or tap it to get the cowbell sound. I’m working on teaching her how to say "I gotta have more cowbell!".

"Jared" is a ridiculous app that just shows a happy face singing very off key but she is fascinated by him.

She’s getting pretty good at playing "Football Lite". She’s actually taught me how to use it.

"Bubble Wrap" has potential for when she gets a little older but "Bubbles" still trumps.


Erich October 22, 2008 at 9:33 am

I had a hard time finding a good game for my 3 & 5 year olds, so I wrote one!

It’s a simple game, more of a toy really, that lets kids stack up blocks and knock them down by throwing balls at them. Good for playing while sitting in the shopping cart!

So many kid games on the iPhone seem to have so many buttons and levels and barriers to fun for young hands and minds that I wanted to make something that couldn’t “break” and the game wouldn’t end just because their fingers mashed all over the screen.

Anyways, check it out if you’re interested – my kids (and my friends’ kids) love it! 🙂


doodaddy October 22, 2008 at 10:09 am

@Erich – Thanks, I’ll take a look!


wakiapps November 20, 2008 at 6:24 am

We also wrote one as well after seeing how mesmerised our nephews, nieces and friend’s kids were with the iPhone!

Our game is called WaKi SNAP! and it’s based on the simple kid’s card game ‘Snap’. It’s got cute graphics and moving cards and is a simple 2-Player game that kids can play with their siblings or their parents on the same iPhone at the same time.


doodaddy November 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

@wakiapps – Seems like it’s more of an older-kid app, though, no?


3pm studios December 18, 2008 at 12:26 am

You might want to try these two apps that we made for our 3 yr old son.
Henry and Hailey’s preschool pals which is a mix and match game. It’s currently ranked in the top 50 paid apps in the education category.

We just realeased Henry and Hailey’s Kids ABC which debuted in the top 100 paid apps in education category. It’s a creative way to learn the alphabet.


Karen January 21, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I tried preschooler application Match magic from . My daughter who is in preschool loves to play that all the time. It is a good deal for 99c whereas other preschool applications are more than that. Well Worth the price


Joolie March 19, 2009 at 12:31 am

My 14 month old loves moobox 3D. We were amazed to see her fine motor skills quickly master the page turn both ways. It might be a little young for most of you, but we get a good 15 minutes out of it. We’re also playing Adam’s game which would be better if they used real animals instead of pictures of plastic ones. The chicken looks really weird. It has a great feature where you can add photos of family/pets/whatever.


Susan May 2, 2009 at 11:13 am

Congrats, Graham! Bubble Wrap, Koi Pond and Bubble Bay are favorites with the younger crowd in my life. Tic Tac Toe works for the Kindergarten crowd. Keep up the good work! Now I’m off to download Scribble…..


doodaddy May 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

@Susan – Hey, thanks! Does this mean you have kids now? How did I miss that! And a kindergartner, too — well, OK, I know it hasn’t been that long…


CowSaysMoo June 9, 2009 at 8:16 am

Here is one more called “Cow Says Moo”. I created this App since my son loves picture books so much. The App is basically just like a picture book, but when you tap on one of the 40+ pictures, you get to hear the sound that it makes!

So far I’ve had great reviews, both in the App Store and from my own two kids 🙂 I hear from friends that their kids like to create a “virtual zoo” by tapping on a bunch of animal pictures together!

Here is the link if you would like to check it out:



Justin June 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm

You should check out the Baby Translator for iphone/ipod touch for those Dad’s that are a bit baby challenged. It helps converts baby talk to English, well it’s good for a laugh anyway, and dads love that!

iPhone Baby Translator


Jason Petralia July 13, 2009 at 8:45 am

Has anyone tried Animal Fun Time? We just released it and feedback has been great so far and it is in the top 50 for education!

Any feedback would be appreciated tremendously!

All the best,



Samuel DenHartog October 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

We make iPhone apps for preschool education. They are fun and focus on shapes, counting, alphabet, memory and concentration.

We would be happy to get a review. Contact us if you need promo codes.



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