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From educational apps to games, there's now great technology available for younger kids.
Children as young as five are now being taught computer programming at school, so apps that help them to develop their coding skills at home are becoming more popular. Tynker, available for iPad and tablets, is one of the best. It starts with a series of exercises teaching children to program using drag-and-drop code blocks: it feels like a fun puzzle game, even though kids are learning as they play.
The real fun comes when children enter the app’s free-creation mode. This allows them to make their own games, animations and physics demos, letting their imaginations run free. Tynker is free to download and use and lots of its puzzles are free. However, some are sold as in-app packs for around R20 each.
Phonics is one of the most popular ways for children to learn to read in school and at home – and Read with Fonics is an app that helps them to practise their newfound skills on their parents’ tablets and smartphones. Created by primary school teacher Sophie Cooper, the app is based around fun phonics games that test children on their letter sounds – from the simple ones they first learn, through to harder three-letter sounds. There’s a points system to track their progress, but it never feels stressful.
Read with Fonics may also make its way into classrooms in the months ahead – Sophie is hoping to get teachers using it with their pupils.
Available for both iPhone and iPad, Wizard School inspires curiosity and creative thinking across a number of subjects such as science, design, languages, geography and sports. Kids can create something awesome with fun stickers, videos, photos and drawing tools, and then share them online for everyone to see. The app includes a Challenge mode designed by educators to inspire your child to design, tinker and build continuosly.
Kids can share their creations with family and friends with safe, private messaging that is controlled entirely by parents.
The original Crossy Road game has been a big hit with children, as it reimagines the classic arcade game Frogger for a new generation of (purely virtual) road-hopping gamers. Disney Crossy Road is an entirely separate version, featuring more than 100 Disney favourites, from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to the stars of The Lion King, Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph.
The gameplay is the same: tap the screen to hop over roads and rivers without being squashed by passing traffic. And yes, the characters really do get squashed – some young Disney fans may need to look away. The game is free to play, but sells some characters using in-app purchases – although the same characters can also be unlocked purely by playing the game.
For decades children have watched Doctor Who from behind the sofa. But this official BBC app gets them in front of their devices, making their very own Time Lord tales. It encourages children to turn various Doctors, companions and aliens into on-screen comic strips, writing their own speech bubbles to tell their story.
It’s simple to use, easily customised and a great way for kids to flex their creative muscles. They can even design their own baddies using bits of famous Doctor Who aliens. While the app is free to download and use, it does sell packs of extra characters and scenery as R20 in-app purchases.
Upgrade your tech
Make sure your tech is up to the task of keeping your kids entertained and educated. Go to Vodacom Online to upgrade, and get free delivery, free connection and free SIM.