Okay, it’s not a recipe for food — but our playgroup has been sharing tips about what to download for your ipad or iphone or iwhatever, before any long trip.  And this is a list that we need to refer to as often as recipes.

I don’t like frenetic video games, and I’m opposed to excessive screen-time in general — but something like “puppetpals” feels just like paper dolls to me. Something like “sketchbook” is really finger-painting without the mess. I don’t need it to be explicitly educational, but “word wizard” has the patience to pronounce any word my four-year-old cares to write, which is more patience than I have — and it happens to be educational. And “magic puzzles” truly are magic, and free. Where else can a four-year-old find a puzzle of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” that she’ll enjoy?

So these are the games we all like for kids aged about three- to six-years-old. These are non-frenetic, semi-educational, just plain creative fun. They’re also mostly free apps or at least low-cost apps. They’re a way to begin exploring the giant app store. I boldfaced the ones that are most popular in our household.


  • glitterdraw
  • sketchbook express
  • doodlebuddy
  • art of glow
  • photo booth


  • falling stars
  • singing fingers


  • magic puzzles – especially castles, art, seven wonders of the world, and nature versions
  • uconnect


  • kindergarten math
  • math puppy
  • dots 4 tots
  • plain calculator


  • matchanimals
  • amazing match
  • memory train


  • word wizard
  • plain notepad


  • puppet pals
  • wanderland

Any other suggestions, dear readers? Leave us some comments. I’m still hunting for some good low-cost music-for-toddlers apps, and I’d like suggestions about that or anything else.