Tips For Traveling With a Toddler: Our Favorite Apps

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I am ashamed to admit that I used to look down on parents that let their children have cell phones before they were teens. That was before I was a parent traveling the world with my toddler daughter.  I am now the parent of a 3-year-old that has her own iPad Mini. Yep, I am constantly eating humble pie since becoming a parent, but that is the way it goes I guess.

Last year, I wrote a post called 5 Apps That Will SaveYour Life when our daughter, Z was almost 2 years old.  She is still using the apps that I mentioned in that post. I also had included some apps that helped us as parents as we traveled.  I wanted to update the list of our favorite apps, but this time I am concentrating only on our favorite apps for our toddler.  For more information on apps to help you adults as you travel, check out this post from Thrifty Travel Mama.

A few things before I start: 1) We personally use Apple products, so some of the apps may not be available to Droid users, I will let you know if they are not, 2)We have a daughter so this list may seem a little skewed towards the girly games, but most of them are good for both boys and girls, and 3) These are our opinions and we hope you will agree with us, but won’t be hurt if you don’t.

And Three To Go’s Favorite Apps For Our Toddler

 OCEANHOUSE MEDIA (OM Bookshelf)

A screenshot of Oceanhouse Media's website and the choices of books to download.
A screenshot of Oceanhouse Media’s website and the choices of books to download.

This app is simply a “bookshelf” where you can search for digital story books and download them into this app. They have a huge selection of Dr. Seuss books, Little Critter books, Berenstain Bears books, and many others. The digital books range in price from free to $4.99. This app has been a way for us to carry a ton of books along with us on our travels, all in one light and easy iPad mini. The books are also interactive and each has the choice for you to read it yourself, be read to you, or auto-played. Z often sits and has the stories read to her on her own. This app has helped us to inspire literacy in our toddler without having to lug around heavy books.

(Unfortunately this product is only available on iOS products, sorry to all the Android users out there… it might be worth changing just for this app though).

ENDLESS NUMBERS-ENDLESS READER-ENDLESS ALPHABET

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.23.00 PM

The Endless games by OriginatorKids.com are the best apps I have found to help teach our toddler her alphabet, numbers, and sight words.   I recommended Endless Alphabet in my post a year ago and still love it, as well as their newer additions.

Endless Alphabet teaches children how to use their alphabet to spell the words in the game. They are some pretty serious words, too! Words like contraption, umbrella, and musician are taught by having the child place the letters in correct order. Each letter is said phonetically when the child touches it. The definition of the word is given in a little cartoon using the Endless app monsters after the child correctly matches all the letters. I credit this game with teaching Z her alphabet before she was 2 years old. She still plays this game often and Originator keeps her interested with offering updates with new words often.

Endless Numbers teaches a child not only how to count, but also simple addition and subtraction as well. The app is free for numbers one through five. Check it out for free and then buy packs of the higher numbers as you want.

Endless Reader is their app that teaches a child to read sight words. It gives a sight word, such as “up” and has the child use their fingers to spell the word by matching the letters, then the word is used in a sentence. Z already reads words like dog, cat, the, and up because of this game.

(Endless Alphabet is offered on both iOS and Android devices, the other two are not) 

DR. PANDA’S RESTAURANT 2

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.38.12 PM

This app is about Dr. Panda and what he cooks for the customers of his restaurant. The player is Dr. Panda, the customers place their order and Dr. Panda has to find the correct ingredients in the kitchen and then cook them to order. The customers (usually an elephant and hippo) are there all the way giving nods or head shakes to let you know if you are picking the right ingredients or ways to cook them. I think that this game is perfect for 3 years and up, it would have been too difficult for Z a year ago. Now, Z likes to play restaurant in real life and makes some pretty amazing imaginary food.  I can’t wait until she is old enough to really cook for me!

(This app is available for both iOS and Android users)

 TOCA TOWN

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.47.07 PM
A screenshot of Toca Town’s grocery store.

Chad calls this game a toddler “Sims“. In Toca Town you can choose characters to do different tasks around the town. The people are able to do everything and each area is interactive, you can move most of the things in the room, turn the light on and off, play the radio, etc. I thought that it would be too simple for Z, but she loves this game and plays it for hours.

On a side note, Z has played and loves most of the TocaBoca apps, you may want to check all of them out.

(This app is available for both iOS and Android users)

 

 SOFIA THE FIRST: FLOATING PALACE

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.00.22 PM

We are huge Disney fans and Disney Junior is one of our favorite channels. Well, at least it is Z’s favorite channel, and Sofia the First is one of her favorite cartoons. In this app, your child (or you, we don’t judge) is able to create their own story using the their own voice and story telling abilities.  It’s a modern-day puppet show that is recorded and able to be emailed to family members or saved for all time.  Z loves to make up her own stories for as long as we will let her use her iPad. Just a note of warning though, it also records the surrounding noises, Z has some of Chad and I’s full conversations recorded as we were driving in the car. In order to save her stories without our boring conversations ruining it, we told her she has to let us know when she is recording now. It has helped a lot.

(This app is only available on iOS.)

*****

So, there they are, our favorite apps for our toddler. Do you let your child play on smart devices? What apps do they (or you) love? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also if you need any specific tips for traveling with your toddler, please leave it in the comment and I will see if I can write a post about it!

***Disclaimer- None of these apps hired me or gave me free products to recommend their products. I am writing this on my own, and the opinions are my own. If you have any questions about the legal stuff, take a look at our Disclosure Page. ***

  29 comments for “Tips For Traveling With a Toddler: Our Favorite Apps

  1. mamabyfire
    August 9, 2014 at 12:03 am

    This is so awesome! My husband and I have been trying to decide if we should get Z an iPad. A mini sounds like a great idea! Also, I would much rather her play learning games instead of watching adults play with toys on You Tube. Thanks for the app tips!!

    • andthreetogo
      August 9, 2014 at 8:01 am

      I would definitely recommend it. 🙂 Plus then you can make it child-safe and control what they do and watch. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. joylovestravel
    August 9, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Love the bookshelf app – what a fab idea, all your favourite stories can travel with you! That would have saved us a lot of hassle when we had a toddler.

    • andthreetogo
      August 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

      It has saved us so much time and energy. We still love “real” books, but having them all in one place is really helpful. They have books for older children as well that might work for your son, too.

      • joylovestravel
        August 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm

        Definitely going to check that out – just on our way back from a trip where he brought a stack of books – our luggage would be way lighter!

  3. thriftytravelmama
    August 9, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Thank you so much for the shout out and for a great list of apps to check out. We’re already huge Toca fans in this house, but I’m especially keen to look into the bookshelf app. Thanks again!!

    • andthreetogo
      August 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Toca is one of the best app companies for kids for sure, there is not an app of theirs that has not been a hit in this house.
      I love the bookshelf app, and the fact that Z can “read” stories all on her own whenever she is on the iPad makes me happy.

  4. Denise
    August 9, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Humble Pie has been a favorite of mine for some time, in regards to parenting

    • andthreetogo
      August 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      I think I would rather have coconut cream pie, but eating that everyday for the rest of my life may not be good for my health. 🙂

  5. Sue Slaght
    August 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Reading your post I feel like a dinosaur as when our children were toddlers there wasn’t even internet. Gulp! So many great tools available now.

    • andthreetogo
      August 9, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      It makes life so much easier. I am sure that when Zoë is grown I will be saying the same thing as you are now. I wonder what will come next in technology… it will be interesting to see. 🙂

      • Sue Slaght
        August 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm

        Can you imagine what 20 years from now might look like? Wow.

  6. theblackberryboys
    August 9, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I love the book shelf app 🙂 The Blackberry boys don’t have tablets yet. BB#1 sometimes plays some games on his Dad’s phone. Need for speed or with the mignons from despicable me. Doesn’t ZOE drop here iPad? This is one of the reasons they don’t have one yet.

    • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
      August 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      I can’t answer for Zoe, but T hasn’t dropped an iPad yet. P did drop it once by accident and it did crack the screen. We’ve got ours in a shock-proof case now – also keeps off accidental splashes of water, and has a stand so you can prop it up.

    • andthreetogo
      August 10, 2014 at 7:35 am

      We have a pretty sturdy case on it and she knows to always use it while sitting and IF she gets up with it, she must hold it with two hands. She has dropped it a couple of times still though, the case has been enough to protect it though. 🙂

  7. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
    August 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Good to know! We’re often looking for new apps and especially, at the moment, for the 3yo set. We’ve already had a go at a TocaBoca one – must have another look at their range – and I can see a couple of others we’d love to try out.

    • andthreetogo
      August 10, 2014 at 7:36 am

      TocaBoca has some excellent games, z also likes the hair salon one and the Toca house. I think T would like them. 🙂

      • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
        August 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

        At the moment she has the Toca Doctor. Do you play that one? I’ll have a look for the hair/house ones.

        • andthreetogo
          August 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

          Hmmm… She may have. I will have to check that one out too. Oh the things we moms get to talk about haha

          • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
            August 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm

            🙂

  8. freebutfun
    August 11, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Those sound pretty good! our kids mainly play on our mobiles, I have mainly ones in Swedish and Finnish, my husband the ones in English, so at the moment I don’t even know what they are doing there… But I like similar apps, something were they can learn something on their level, listen to words and sounds as well. But that book app sounds great for trips! My husband reads a fair bit of ebooks at home as well but for me there is something in touching a real book as well… but on trips, the e-ones are great for adults too!

    • andthreetogo
      August 11, 2014 at 6:45 am

      I love to read real books myself but will have to wait until we settle somewhere for a bit longer before I buy them. Or am somewhere where they have a library with some English books 🙂
      It is so wonderful that your children are multilingual! I’m jealous 🙂

      • freebutfun
        August 11, 2014 at 11:16 pm

        You don’t know what Zoe will still pick up on your travels 🙂 In some areas it just is more needed to know more languages!

  9. Less to More
    August 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    We use some educational apps for school, and occasionally, for fun when we finish with school. I think it’s helpful as long as it’s not excessive and the kids are being monitored. When my kids want to do it for fun, I usually set the timer on, so it’s not a fight to pry it out of their hands. Traveling, though, can be stressful for parents and kids, and we are usually more flexible about app usage during these times.

    • andthreetogo
      August 11, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      That’s pretty much how we do it as well. 🙂 Although we still have to pry it out of her hands sometimes. Lol

  10. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    August 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I’m going to email this to myself so I will for sure try some of these! Thank you. I’m pretty stingy with tech time for the kids—except when we travel!

    • andthreetogo
      August 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

      I hope they work for you!

  11. Richsummer Daze
    August 16, 2014 at 4:25 am

    We love toca apps too. The hair salon one is a particular favourite. Especially if they can take a shot of me and give me crazy hair. (: I’m going to check out that book app too. The kids have been missing books on our travels.

    • andthreetogo
      August 16, 2014 at 6:49 am

      The only thing I ever worry about with the hair salon is that z will cut her own hair thinking that there is a serum that will make it grow back (oh how I wish there was one! Awkward hair stage be gone!). When she started playing it, we had a talk about how we only cut hair in the game, never in real life. So far, she still has all her hair (and I am still in the awkward growing stage

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