We were having a bit of a virtual clear out this weekend – also known as ‘deleting stuff off the iPad to make more room’ – and with quite a few apps and games aimed at a younger audience going in this latest round of housekeeping, I thought it might make a good post to share with you a Top 5 list of old favourites suitable for younger gamers, up to around five-years old.
Number 5 – Talking…Tom Cat, Pierre, Ben the Dog, Roby the Robot…
All of these apps proved popular with young HopperBoy (from age 2+ I’d say). They are very easy to navigate and have options for them to do cheeky things, like dance, jump out on one another or ‘squirt’ you with water from the taps. Most kids seem to like the fact that they will repeat what you say to them, in their own funny voice. These apps are produced by Outfit 7 and follow similar patterns for each character – the only draw-back, in my opinion, is the in-app purchase options to dress up the characters, that kids will often see and want to add to the basic game.
Number 4 – Despicable Me: Minion Rush
Very similar to Temple Run game this is a great Minion-themed version for children – running through familiar scenes from the films. With fun extras to use as you go, such as the freeze gun, this is a nice alternative to the adult versions of the ‘running’ games. There are additional challenges you can complete as you go along – collecting bananas, going certain distances without collecting coins, using freeze-ray six times, etc. – that give older kids something to aim for. For younger ones, they can get some finger-eye co-ordination practice as they leap the obstacles.
Number 3 – Fun ‘Physics’ Games
There are a lot of these games around, where you use basic ideas such as gravity, changing states from water to steam to ice, etc. to complete the levels in little puzzle games. Two of our long-standing favourites of this type of game were Sprinkle Junior (and if you like it – there is a grown-up version, which I also recommend) and Where’s My Water?
Sprinkle Junior is aimed at under 5s (best suited 2-4 years I’d estimate, as it could be too easy for some older ones and there are only around 20-levels which might not prove challenging enough for more experienced baby-gamers). The player takes on the role of a mini-fire fighter who use their water hoses to tackle little hut fires and save their friends. In early levels, the players need to work out how height and angle of the hoses affect the distances the water will travel – later on, you might have to blast away obstacles first to reach the fires. It’s a good introduction to puzzle-solving games and isn’t too hard, or too easy and so holds attention well. If this looks too easy, then go straight for the original to challenge them further.
Once they’ve mastered Sprinkle Junior they can graduate to the slightly more difficult Where’s My Water? from Disney games. There is a ‘lite’ version of this that you can try, to see if your child enjoys it enough to make the purchase. In this game, you use your finger to create paths through soil to direct water to various machines, as you try and get it back to the tank for Swampy’s shower, without losing too much along the way. It is the game that spawned a hundred copies – but this is still the best and has plenty of levels and new add-in content (without additional cost) which should keep them going for a while.
Want a second opinion on app age ratings?
Check out the Are They Old Enough? site, which gives you a lot of detail on game content, as well as a ‘voted for by parents’ age range guide for many games, apps, TV shows and movies. Here’s the link to the Where’s My Water? page.
Number 2 – Puppet Pals
Any budding directors or actors out there? Puppet Pals is a great little app that allows your child to build their own sets, move characters around the stage, add voice-overs and then record them in the app to replay as mini-films. As well as a large range of existing character templates, they can also use their pictures from their tablet files to make new characters with friends and family! It is lots of fun watching the stories they create with you 🙂 This was a free app, so even better and is a good way to get their creative juices going, practicing story-telling skills as well as letting them flex their dramatic skills. Interesting for older ones, as well as little ones.
Number 1 – Anything Toca Boca!
The Toca Boca app series is one of the best and as the collection continues to grow all the time, there’s probably even better stuff now than there was when we discovered them four years ago. Although you pay a small amount for each app, you benefit from no in-app purchases and third-party ads – plus most of them have a ‘free trial’ or ‘lite’ option, which means that you can see whether it is interesting for your little one or not, before you purchase.
Several of the apps take a favourite kids game – such as ‘playing shop’ – and add a neat electronic twist, giving you ‘Toca Store’ where you can layout items in your shop for sale; decide how much to charge for each, take money from customers and use a little till. ‘Toca Doctor’ takes your child’s medical make-believe play to a whole new level, with little illnesses and minor injuries for them to investigate and treat.
Some of our other favourite Toca Boca apps are:
Toca Hair Salon – wash, blow-dry, cut, colour and more – with lots of different characters to choose from, including animals, this provided endless opportunities for creating whacky styles!
Toca Kitchen – you guessed it: there’s a fridge full of food and all the equipment you might need to conjure up a culinary masterpiece (or even more fun, mix together the strangest ingredients or don’t cook them well and your computerised guests are not going to be happy).
And my personal favourite! Toca Band – a variety of crazy-looking creatures make a range of different sounds to various rhythms, that you can easily blend together to make interesting tunes. Move them from one level to another to change the tune they play. As much fun for grown-ups as it is for kids, just make sure that you let them have a go 🙂
You can find out more about Toca Boca, their ethos and apps here: http://tocaboca.com/
Phew! That was a trip down memory lane. Hope you’ve found something good to share with your mini-gamers here – If there’s any great apps you think should have appeared here, then let us know in the Comments below.