Max’s App Appreciation Club

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Several hours ago, about nine to be exact, I put out a call to team Facebook asking for advice on what Apps send their little ones appsolutely (just one, no more) delirious. I have spent the remainder of my day trawling the internet sifting through all the rubble to deliver you some notable gems and I’m feeling pretty smug about the list I’ve put together. I always do this, I find something I am quite interested and then I obsessively research it to the point that I now hate that thing. I am either a bit of a perfectionist who needs to know there isn’t something better out there or I am a bit of a geek, hang on minute, news just in from Mrs Under its the latter.

My stance on apps before today was that I’d probably rather not, it seems the obsessive geek gene has been passed down to Max and he swishes and swipes his way through my i-Pad like a pro hacker. After a couple of hours I relented my stance a little and now my stance is positively spread eagled. They are not going to replace park time, library time, cooking time, art time, reading time or any other time (maybe crying time?) they will be in addition to those things and they will add things that I can’t like singing in key, playing instruments and drawing elephant heads that don’t resemble penises.

My taste in apps seems to be the same as my taste in women and leans towards the creative and the visually beautiful (be sure to pass the sick bucket around to everyone). They all have an educational and interactive with a satisfying sprinkle of humour. I found some apps that I was itching to purchase but weren’t appropriate for Max due to his age, gender and/or ability but I’ve made a note of them for when he does grow up or turns into a girl.

Here is my list, it has been hastily thrown together and there are lots more that I want to give a shout out to. So please accept this as a first offering and there will be more just like this in the coming weeks each with a different focus –music apps, illustration apps, boys apps, girls apps, etc. These are all pretty unisex, some lean a bit one way or the other but nothing too overtly gender specific.

Free Story Apps

Classic Winnie The Pooh – That big, cuddly, honey loving bear has been brought to life by this stunning app. It’s faithful to the original A.A. Milne books and includes the famous water colour illustrations by E.H. Shepard. It’s wonderfully narrated and has some interactive qualities too and it’s free!

Rockfords Rock Opera – Part musical part story book it tells the fantastical story of a lost dog called Rockford (regular readers will have a knowing grin on their faces me thinks) and has an environmental theme. I don’t think Max has the foggiest what it’s all about but he loves all the animation and singing. This one is for those children with a vivid imagination.


Creative Kids

Drawnimal – This one makes my top 3. Hhhhhmmmm how to explain – children draw the outer bits of animals (legs, ears, whiskers and so on) on paper underneath their iPhone or iPad, before the device provides an animated face to complete the picture. There’s an animal for every letter of the alphabet that will bring a smile to everyone’s face when you prod and poke them – a pleasing mix of art meets creativity meets pee your pants funny.

Petting Zoo – I have so much love for this one and in truth I suspect I love it more than Max. If you can’t make it a real zoo this is a pretty good substitute and you even get to man handle the animals. It’s a creative masterpiece from illustrator Christoph Niemann, a collection of 21 animals from psychedelic pandas to elephants in the bath and sound effects to further absorb you.


Funimal Phonics – Max has been showing some interest of late in the letter and numbers that populate his bedroom. He even has a go at singing the alphabet but does that classic trick of mumbling most of it and singing the odd bit he knows extra loud to make up for the rest. There is a wealth of phonics apps to pick from but reason I chose this one is that it uses lower case letters (a lot don’t), the animation is very interactive and fun and you can have English or American pronunciation, so it can be tomato instead of tomayyyytooo.

Little Digits Finger Counting – a nice introductory app for mini Maths geniuses. This marvellous numbers app gets your child to count by placing fingers on the iPad’s touchscreen, with cute cartoon numbers appearing, depending on how many fingers are pressed. It gets toddlers used to counting and aids visual recognition of the numbers themselves. It’s fairly limited but it will delight children that are tactile learners.

Story Time

Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow – The classic fairytale is give a hip revamp through a mixture of animation, interactivity and wolves in flat-caps. This beautifully-crafted adventure gets children to help Little Red Riding Hood take different routes through the forest, with the items she collects influencing how the story ends. Although it strays from tradition the wolf still comes a cropper. Max is a bit out of his depth with this one but he’ll grow into it.

The Wrong Book – Read by Frank Woodley Nicholas tries very hard to tell his story but pirates, monsters, rats and elephants keep interrupting much to his irritation. Every character responds to a little prod with their little quirk, little people will particularly adore the farting monsters. This one brought Max out in fits of giggles.


What are the apps that work well in your house? Where do you stand on the great app debate; for or against? If you feel this post might be useful to friends and family please do share.

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  • Sus

    Thanks for doing the hard yards, some of them sound really good. I used to be pretty anti having any kids apps on the iPad but managed to find some that I was happy with. Charley Bear gets a workout in our house, so do animatch and ShapePuzzleHD. The last two require a bit of effort which makes me feel like my daughter is actually learning something.

    • Dad Down Under

      There are lots of great educational apps, I like the ones where the learning is incidental and a bit more fun. I think in moderation they are great, as I say they can do things and bring things to life in a way that we can’t ( some of them). I will have to check out this Charley Bear character. Thanks Sus

  • Mother Down Under

    I did so much research on apps before we left on our trip to the States…I figured that on a twenty four hour flight, apps were going to be my lifeline.
    Endless Alphabet is far and away Toddler C’s favourite..and really mine too.
    The Peppa Pig apps are probably a close second.
    And Thomas the Tank Engine has some great jigsaw puzzle apps.

  • Sharon

    Here are a few my kids have loved,

    Toddler counting 123
    Monkey preschool lunchbox
    Sound shaker
    Fish school
    ITot cards
    Letters A to Z
    Misty island
    Wheels on the bus
    Incy wincy

    Some amusing but not so educational
    Talking Carl

  • Vicky

    Some of the faves in our house are the Reading eggs apps
    And Me books. The reading eggs ones will be great for max a little later, but Me books he would love right now. It’s interactive stories, with many popular books, including Peppa Pig! It is already narrated, but it allows you to change and add narration of your own. My little boy loves it. We have lots of fun giving the characters wild and wonderful voices and things to say.

  • Zanni

    Thank you so much for this. Brilliant.

  • Veronica Neal

    Is Max left handed?
    Oh and I will be checking out some of these apps to load onto hubby’s ipad tonight before my epic 3 hours of parent teacher interviews tomorrow…you could be a life saver…or at least I might leave the school with the slightest shred of dignity in tact!!
    But just picturing tradie hubby in a future site meeting when he goes to demonstrate something on his ipad and Winnie the Pooh or Petting Zoo appears lol !!

  • Dad Down Under

    Mother Down Under – I’m going to check the Endless Alphabet out, thanks for the tip. Did you survive the flight?

  • Dad Down Under

    Thanks Sharon, thats a good list and i will definitely have a look at them all. I think I’m addicted to apps now.

  • Dad Down Under

    Vicky – I got a few shouts for Reading Eggs yesterday, we’ll have a looksy when he gets a bit older. Thanks for the tips

  • Dad Down Under

    Zanni, no problem at all, more to follow but at a more sedate pace next time : )

  • Dad Down Under

    Max seems to favour his right hand but as you can just about see he always has a train in it so uses his left. I’m left handed, why, do you have a theory on lefties? I would pay money to see your tradie hubby open a Winnie The Pooh story book infront of the boys : )

  • Veronica Neal

    Thought the train might be the problem you might have to have it surgically removed 😉
    Nah no theory on lefties….other than they are highly intelligent, super creative and all round fab people (yeah tad biased being left handed myself !!)
    Haha that would be an interesting meeting with the lads !!!

  • Kim@Falling Face First

    Thanks Matt! Some new ones for me there – plugged them into the iPad on the night you posted (with my smeary eyeballs just open) and I was GOLDEN mummy the next morning. Winnie the Pooh has Little A captivated and both girls were giggling like loons when he rolls in the mud. (Ok, so was I). I think I suffer your same obsessive problem… Once you start digging it’s like an onion, made of black hole. I’m asking others for tips from now on.

    • Dad Down Under

      Kim – like an onion made of black hole, I might plagarise that one day, love it! I love that I got the whol efamily giggling, for free and from a far. Thanks Kim.

  • Dutch expat girl in Tazzie

    My boy who’s just turned 2 likes the Miffy-apps.
    Educational and fun!

    • Dad Down Under

      Thanks Krista, I’m not familiar with Miffy’s work, I’ll check them out.