- By Rong Xin & Wei Xuan
With an abundance of cartoons and funny videos (and who knows what else) readily available at a simple touch of your kid's tiny fingers, Youtube has become a double-edged sword masquerading as a babysitter tool for most parents.
We understand the allure of it, though. Having your kid's attention absorbed elsewhere for 45 minutes can allow you to finally sit down and get that piece of work you need done. Considering the recent surfacing of tons of harmful Youtube videos that were somehow flagged as recommended for kids, though, it might be a good idea to consider safer babysitting alternatives to occupy your kids while you focus on that report you have to submit.
To make things easier for you, we scoured the two major app stores and found 3 educating and interactive apps that encompass the STEAM philosophy while being fun for your child at the same time. Find out more about these apps below.
1) Code – a – Pillar by FisherPrice
This app developed by Fisher-Price consists a series of puzzles in which children are expected to help direct a path that leads the main character – Caterpillar – to its destination.
The game introduces the underlying basic concept of coding and computational thinking by having children give logical sequencing instructions to complete puzzles. Your child might need a bit of guidance at the start, but it should become a breeze after a few tries.
The app is free on Google Play and App Store and appropriate for children from 4 to 6 years old.
Developed by MIT Media Lab, ScratchJr is a visual programming app that allows children to create their own stories.
Where Code-a-Pillar helps children to understand the grammar and punctuation of coding language, ScratchJr allows children to express using this language fluently. Unlike Code-a-pillar, ScratchJr is not puzzle based. Instead, it focuses on open-ended projects.
In this app, beyond learning and practicing the concepts of logical sequencing, children can also tell a story and communicate an idea using their interactive platform. This allows your child to not just reason systematically but also think creatively.
Due to the app's open-ended nature, it might be challenging for children at the start. One way we recommend for your child to start with this app is as an extended activity after reading a story book. Creating a short animation to re-enact a favourite scene in the story makes for an engaging and memorable starting project.
The app is free on Google Play and Apple Store, only available on tablets, appropriate for children from 5 to 7 years old.
Developed by a New Zealand team, QuiverVision brings colouring to a whole new immersive experience using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. When we mention AR, the first thing that comes to mind is often the popular game Pokemon Go. Similar in terms of concept, QuiverVision turns your children’s colouring pages into engaging animated characters and images through AR, bringing learning experiences to the next level.
The app is free on Google Play and Apple Store. Some of their colouring sheets are free while some require you to pay. Appropriate for children from 4 to 8 years old.
When it comes to screen time, quality is often more crucial than quantity. We live by our mantra of ‘learning by doing and exploring’ and have recommended a group of apps that we believe allow children to ‘create’ instead of just ‘consume’. At Explorer Junior, we believe that new technologies are tools for expression and should be integrated into learning experiences in meaningful ways.
Like how crayons are embraced and adopted as new ‘technology’ for children to draw, create and express themselves decades ago, integrating today’s high technologies into learning is also imperative to allow children to create in new and fun ways!