Great PBS Kids apps for your preschooler

In this guide, I’ll show you some great apps for iOS published by PBS Kids. These are all winners and based on current PBS Kids shows. Some are free while others are not.

PBS Kids Video

I have to start with a great free app called PBS Kids Video. This app requires an internet connection, but once connected you and your child will have access to clips from many great PBS Kids shows. In some cases there are full episodes. It is also easy enough for your child to run on his/her own. There are clips from Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Guy, Sesame Street, Curious George and more.

PBS Kids Video
PBS Kids Video

PBS Kids Photo Factory

Another freebie is the PBS Kids Photo Factory. In this app your child can take his or your picture with a PBS Kids character. The picture can then be stored on the device, emailed, or printed. I do have to say this app did not have much staying power in our house. It was cool at first and then interest was lost. However, for free why not try it?

PBS Kids Photo
PBS Kids Photo Factory

Super Why

If your child is a fan of Super Why there are several great apps in the app store, ranging from painting to apps that help your child learn to read. The current favorite in my house is SUPER WHY ABC Adventures: Alphabet. In this app your child travels around the world in different environments collecting treasures and learning to read at the same time. These apps start at $1.99 and go up. Do a search for Super Why and you’ll see all the great apps for this show.

Super Why
Super Why

Dinosaur Train series

Another popular series with several apps is Dinosaur Train. These apps are also paid apps and start at $1.99. There are activities dealing with finding dinosaur eggs, coloring dinosaurs, sorting dinosaurs by size, and pattern matching. You can’t go wrong with any of these apps. The only disappointing part about these apps is that they don’t show enough of my son’s favorite dinosaurs from the show. My son is constantly asking where are other dinosaurs. That aside, these apps are great and I definitely recommend for the Dinosaur Train fans.

Dinosaur Train
Dinosaur Train

Daniel Tiger

Not to be left out, the new kids on the block Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood already has an app. For those unfamiliar with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood it is a cartoon spinoff of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. It has all the old characters I grew up with in a new form. In Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel, your child will help Daniel with everyday activities like getting ready for bed by brushing his teeth. This app is $1.99 and more for the younger age group.

Daniel Tiger
Daniel Tiger

Bert’s Bag

Finally, I can’t write this article without mentioning the king of PBS Kids shows: Sesame Street. Doing a search for Sesame Street in the app store will give you a slew of apps and interactive books. Most of these apps are paid apps, but they are well worth it.

One of my son’s favorite apps was Bert’s Bag. In this app, Bert dumps his bag of bottle caps or paper clips and you help count them. A simple concept that has kept my son busy for small chunks of time. There are even apps that have Sesame Street characters like Elmo making a customized “phone call” to your children. There are probably enough apps for Sesame Street to have its own article.

bert
Bert’s Bag

Conclusion

I could go on an on about PBS Kids apps. There are a ton of them, and I have only touched the surface. A search for “PBS Kids” in the App Store will reveal even more apps. I didn’t even mention the great Clifford’s Big Birthday which teaches your child reading skills. Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat Color and Create! is a fantastic and fun paint program based on The Cat in the Hat.

The great thing about all of these apps is that they are teaching will your child is having fun. Some apps teach math, others reading, others colors and writing. Whatever the subject, your child doesn’t even realize they are learning something because they are to engaged in the game or activity. That is the best type of learning and well worth the few dollars an app might cost.

Just a side note: some of the apps like those based on Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, or The Cat in the Hat are not necessarily published by PBS Kids even though the shows fall into the PBS Kids category. I suggest just searching for the show title to make finding what you are looking for easier.

Tablets and your pre-schooler: Is it a good idea?

While writing here at Techerator I plan on covering a lot of tops related to the Mac and iOS. After all, that is what I know when it comes to technology. Part of those articles will include a series about iOS apps for the preschooler and toddler. Basically these articles will be recommending apps that have been a hit in my house. However, before I get to those articles I wanted to write an article about the benefits (and downsides) of letting your preschooler use a tablet or phone or similar device.

Tablets for kids are popping up all over the place. There is the Leapfrog LeapPad (now in its second-generation version). There is a new kids-only tablet from Toys “R” Us. Tablets are hitting the kids market and hitting it fast.

There will be many people out there that will say a kid should go nowhere near a tablet device. There are also many people out there who say a young child should not be watching television (don’t get me started on this one). I disagree on both counts. In moderation, and with parent supervision,using a tablet can be educational for a young child – not to mention fun.

There are apps that teach writing, reading, and arithmetic. There are apps that teach patterns and spacial reasoning. There are apps for the artist child. In many cases these apps are reinforcing what a child will be learning in school. In other cases the app might be teaching the child something new and giving him/her a head start.

My son loves playing games that are based on his favorite characters like Dinosaur Train and Clifford the Big Red Dog or Team Umizoomi.  We also read books on the iPad and there are a lot of fantastic interactive book apps out there. Through these apps he is having fun learning. He is also learning how to type and learning how to use a tablet device, which I think will be the future in schools over laptops (but that is another story).

Don’t get me wrong, too much use of a tablet is not good. In fact we limit usage heavily in my house. My son is on the iPad no more than 20 minutes per week. I also don’t let him play any apps except the educational games (some are based on characters and others are not).

The bottom line is that there is definitely a place for tablets and preschoolers, and if you monitor a child’s usage it can be a great learning tool.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android Review

Written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert contributors, the Britannica Encyclopedia is regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopedias (it even beats out Wikipedia!).  This incredible gift to society has become mobile,  hitting the Android Market in a full and trial version.

Using the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android for the last week and a half, I have to tell you, it is an amazing information tool to hold in the palm of your hand. Back in the day, you had to carry the whole mass of some 20 volumes of books in order to hold the knowledge you can now hold on your phone. Thanks to the developers at the Paragon Software Group, the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android is one of the most useful phone applications I have ever had.

Sitting around the table, chatting with friends has given me multiple opportunities to utilize the Britannica Encyclopedia. A friend would ask what a certain group of people believed spiritually and I would offer my knowledge gained from the encyclopedia application. I was even able to do these searches in places where a data connection was not available because the entire application is stored offline right on my phone.

One of the greatest features in the application is the ability to not only search for whatever you are interested in, but it allows you to do even further research by allowing you to click on words that are used to explain what you are searching, and dig deeper into those words and their descriptions as well.

The only complaint I have is the search button on my phone was not bound to the search feature of the Britannica application. If it were, this would allow for quicker and easier searches instead of having to reach up to the top left and press the search button.

There isn’t a lot to say about the application aside from how incredibly useful it is. In the time that I was able to spend with the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, I found it quick, easy, and powerful. Never once did the application force close. If you are in search of knowledge about the human endeavor, a know-it-all and wanting to improve, or love to research, the $19.99 price tag on the Android market should not stop you. For everyone else, there is a free trial out there so give it a try!

Don’t Run or Walk, Sit for Something

When Jeremy Haberman left home to run a few errands with his family on another brisk Lake Nokomis morning, he wasn’t expecting another cause-related 5-kilometer walk and run to cross his path. His normal route was closed yet again. Frustrated, Haberman said to his wife, “You know what I’m going to do?  I’m going to get people to pledge money for me to just sit on our couch and watch movies.”

Months later, Haberman registered for Startup Weekend Twin Cities at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “I completely forgot about my idea. It had been lying dormant and my tiny rant came back to mind when I was developing a pitch for Startup Weekend.” But sitting alone on a couch didn’t foster the sense of community you find at run- and walk-a-thons, and it wasn’t nearly as fun.  With help from family and friends, Haberman developed the idea of holding fundraisers at movie theaters, in essence, sitting for something.  He pitched the idea at Startup Weekend and, with help from a team of believers, it became a reality.

Together they founded Sit for Something, a social venture built to provide a fun alternative to boring, bland fundraisers. Sit for Something focused on one of the major issues of 2010: education. Haberman and his team thought about their experiences of parents and kids peddling candy bars and magazines and wanted to change the dynamic. “Kids don’t want to sell this junk,” said Haberman.  “Nobody wants to buy it, and parents are often left to foot the bill. Sit for Something had a better idea: using movie theaters to raise money for education.

Sit for Something’s first fundraiser will appeal to rock ‘n’ roll and education fans alike. On Tuesday, February 15 at 7 p.m. in the historic St. Anthony Main Theater, a showing of It Might Get Loud, a guitar documentary featuring Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge, will benefit the School of Rock Minnesota Scholarship Fund, allowing young low-income aspiring musicians to pursue their dreams. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door. Spots are limited and can be reserved at sitforsomething.org/schoolofrock.

Sit for Something is now forming partnerships with Minnesota-based educational groups where they form a collaborative effort to advance learning opportunities for youth. For more information visit sitforsomething.org.