Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years or so (and if you have, hey, more power to ya! I bet it’s quiet under there. I’m sort of jealous!), mobile devices are all the educational rage! Tablets in particular are extremely useful in our children’s educational pursuits. We recently set up a Kindle Fire for our almost three year old daughter and I want to share with you my list of the best Kindle Fire apps for toddlers & preschoolers!
Updated July 2018!
Why a Kindle Fire?
We are a family who loves Apple products, but when it comes to tablets for our six kids we have gone strictly with Kindle Fire. Why?
-The Kindle Fire is a very durable tablet, ours have been dropped more than a few times with no screen cracks. The Fire is durable, but it’s not indestructible so we put protective cases on all of them. Our younger kids each have a MoKo Kindle Fire Kid’s Case. We love the MoKo cases because they are super padded, have an adjustable carrying handle that doubles as a tablet prop, and they come in so many fun colors that each kid can have their own!
-The Kindle Fire has exceptional parental controls. From the tablet I can block various features (video, internet, app store, etc.) & set up curfew times. If I hop online I can set a pin number to protect against unauthorized purchases (ask me about the time the toddler bought a whole season of The Wild Kratts, two copies of Star Wars, and a Ghostbusters DVD!) Also, the Kindle Fire allows you to set up parent and child profiles, this allows the parent to control the child’s access from their own account, and that includes sending them specific books and apps.
-You can expand the Kindle Fire’s storage capacity with a micro SD card! For around $10 you can more than double the storage capacity of the device, something you cannot do with Apple products! And you’re going to need that extra space, because…
-The amount of FREE apps you can access with Amazon Underground is breathtaking. Amazon Underground rotates a list of TWENTY THOUSAND paid apps that are FREE, including FREE in-app purchases. The value of the apps can range from $.99 to over $25, all totally free. Did I mention free? You can access Amazon Underground online or straight from your tablet.
Okokok, so now that I have extolled the virtues of the Kindle Fire, let me share which apps are our toddler’s favorites!
The Best Kindle Fire Apps for Toddlers & Preschoolers
PBS Kids allows my child to watch all of her favorite PBS shows (especially Daniel Tiger!) on her tablet, and I don’t have to worry about her accessing questionable shows. Her language and communication skills took a major leap when she started watching Daniel Tiger to boot.
Endless Alphabet is part of the Endless App Bundle from Originator, Inc. While there are many Endless apps available FOR FREE on the Kindle Fire, this one costs $8.99, Alphabet is certainly baby girl’s favorite! Bonus: you don’t need an internet connection to use Endless Alphabet, making it a great app for use in vehicles! This app is worth every single penny!
Sensory Baby (or as my daughter calls it, “FISH!”) is a great app that not only soothes sensory seekers and calms down sensory avoiders through its interactive virtual fish aquarium, it also teaches young children the basics of using a touch screen tablet.
Netflix makes a great app for those who already subscribe! Set up a child’s profile from the computer then your child can navigate through shows that are safe for little eyes and ears. To keep your little one from straying into shows you don’t want them to watch, you can make use of Netflix’s download policy. Download some of their favorite shows, disable wifi, and feel comfortable walking away for a moment.
Did you know that Amazon Prime members get unlimited streaming on their Amazon Video platform? If you are an Amazon Prime member (get a 30 day free trial!) you can use Amazon Video to download safe shows for your child that they can watch without an internet connection. Because there is no way to separate Amazon’s kid videos from the grown up videos, I don’t suggest allowing your child to browse the app. Rather, download what you want them to watch then block the app from the parental control menu. And, don’t forget to set up that Amazon Video pin so your toddler can’t buy videos!
LEGO Duplo Trains is my toddler’s absolute favorite app! While there are quite a few fun Duplo apps to choose from (ice cream, animals, food…) she loves the Trains app the most. The app teaches animal sounds, colors, matching, and simple words.
Elmo Loves 123s is another paid app, normally $5, that you can get for FREE with Amazon Underground! Your child will love interacting with Elmo while learning their numbers and singing cute songs.
Dr. Panda – This cute suite of apps features an adorable panda who guides your child through the daily life of people in certain occupations. There are games for future chefs, mailpeople, doctors, among many other options.
Toca Lab – I’m a big fan of the Toca family of apps, but some have more educational merit than others. Toca Lab: Elements is one of my 4 year old’s favorites (her 11 year old brother likes it too!). In this periodic table game kids mix and match elements to all sorts of ends.
Pokemon Playhouse – My preschooler wants to be just like her older siblings, and Pokemon Playhouse helps her feel like a big kid. She is learning colors, shapes, numbers, and language skills as she hatches and raises Pokemon of her own!
Epic Unlimited Books for Kids – Epic is a subscription-based app that offers read-along real-aloud books! Recent research shows that digital books engage reluctant readers far more than audiobooks alone, Epic brings the book and the audio to your child, with an unlimited library for around $8 a month. Epic has decided to no longer support the Fire platform.
Daniel Tiger’s GRR-ific Feelings – Kids have big feelings but little bodies, it’s difficult but absolutely necessary to learn how to regulate our emotions. GRR-ific Feelings features children’s beloved Daniel Tiger teaching our kids how to calm down and think before acting and speaking.
Sesame Street Apps – There are so many great Sesame Street apps that I’m just linking to all of them. Letters, numbers, manners, potty learning – it’s all covered!
Teach Your Monster to Read – One of our very favorites for a long time, Teach Your Monster To Read puts kids in control of their learning to read journey.
Pirate Phonics – The Pirate suite, which is FREE for Kindle Fire users, is a much-loved pirate-themed learn-to-read program that consists of three separate, leveled apps.
Monkey Preschool Suite – The Monkey Preschool apps are colorful, fun, and full of stuff our kids need to know. Normally they cost a few bucks each, but Kindle Fire users can enjoy unlimited, free use of the apps!
Khan Academy Kids – I’m so excited about this brand new app from some of the most ingenuitive minds in education: Khan Academy.
Sago Suite of Apps – Your child is sure to love the simple yet sweet animation style of these lifestyle-themed games. Your kids will feel grown up while they learn everything a preschooler needs to know.
Studio Pango Apps – These adorable apps feature cute animations and logic puzzles!
PinkFong Apps – Kids go nuts for these apps! Each app has a different theme, from numbers to music. The apps are free so you can download all of them without worry!
Sandra Boynton Story App – Free for Kindle Fire users, this four pack of interactive stories by acclaimed author Sandra Boynton, promises nothing but fun for those before bed stories.
Duck Duck Moose – When it comes to fun & educational apps, you really can’t beat Duck Duck Moose. The entire library of apps is free for Kindle Fire users and there is something for every child.
Shape Quest – From PBS Kids, kids race against robots to save their animals friends, with logic and strategy!
Dragonbox Numbers – From one of the premier educational app companies comes a version just for young kids!
Dragonbox Big Numbers – The sequel to Numbers
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Meg Grooms is a long-time homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle and currently call Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.