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5 free apps to keep your kid entertained, educated

By Tracie Snowder, KSL.com | Posted - Sep 25th, 2013 @ 4:04pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Most parents have experienced their breaking point with trying toddlers — that delicate moment when you need just five minutes (okay, even 60 seconds) of peace and quiet and your kid is seconds away from a mega-tantrum. Thankfully, technology is here to save the frazzled parent's day.

The answer in keeping your toddler's attention and your sanity check is literally in your pocket — smartphones and tablets can hold your child's attention and teach them something educational all at once. And while Netflix might be the easiest option, Wi-Fi streaming isn't always working or available.

Need a break but don't want your kid to zone out to a dumbed-down movie or game? Try one of these free educational apps.

1. Alphabet Puzzles for Toddlers and Kids (Free, available on iTunes and Amazon:

This app is a hit my household. It has your toddler touch the screen to drag the letter or number to its corresponding place on the puzzle board. A voice says the name of the numer or letter as soon as it is touched. This app will help improve problem solving skills, logical and cognitive skills, concentration and memory.

BEST FOR: Kids ages 18 months - 3 years

2. Where's Puppy's Nose? (Free, available on iTunes and Amazon)

This app helps teach your toddler about body parts, body movements, first words and actions. It uses a dog and a cat to teach your child about hands, ears, eyes, noses, tummy, foot and head. Your child can tap, tilt or shake the screen to interact with the app. This helps improve fine motor skills, cognitive thinking and memory.

BEST FOR: Babies and Toddlers, ages 6 months - 3 years

3. Fit Brains for Kids: Sparky's Adventures (Free, available only on iTunes)

This app is described as "a cognitive approach to child learning and development." It has a library of games that begins at a basic level for around age two and increases in difficulty as the child progresses. For example, a toddler game would include finding the different fruit in a picture of eight pineapples and one orange. You can adjust the age index as your child gets older or smarter or both. This app helps with hand and eye motor skills, cognitive skills, concentration and memory.

BEST FOR: Kids ages 2 - 8 years

4. Peekaboo Zoo (Available in free and paid versions on iTunes and Amazon app stores)

1.With this app, your child hears a hidden animal and can guess what animal is making the sound. Your child clicks the screen to reveal which animal is hiding, including a lion, crocodile, tiger, panda and 12 other animals. This app helps develop hand-eye coordination, animal names and associated sounds.

BEST FOR: Toddlers ages 18 months - 3 years

5. Trains, Planes & Sea Vehicles Puzzles (Free, available on iTunes as Kids Trains & Transportation and Amazon.com)

The free version of this app only has four puzzles but offers lots of fun activities. There are three different vehicle groups of puzzles and your kid drags and drops the vehicle into the right place on the screen. There are three different difficulty levels on the puzzles. Once your child completes a puzzle, they can pop celebration balloons on screen until the next puzzle pops up. This app helps improve visual perception, knowledge of shapes, and development of fine motor skills.

BEST FOR: Toddlers ages 18 months - 3 years

We hope some of these apps can stave off a mini-meltdown for frantic parents. Please keep in mind, this is just a small sampling of educational apps available for smartphone and tablet users. Let us know what your favorite free kid apps are in the comments.

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Tracie Snowder, KSL.com

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