No doubt our children are growing up in a digital and connected world. Smartphones, computers and portable gaming devices are all around them since they are born. Rather than shield them, I advocate for teaching them the best use of technology.
I do carry an iPhone with me and I don´t know what I did before it. I have a great collection of apps that keep my daughter entertained while in the car during long drives or at moments when mamá needs to get some shopping done. We all know how that goes. I´ve managed to download some great Spanish language apps that range from stories, to games, to just plain fun. Here´s a handpicked list of my nine of my favorite ones.
- My Bilingual Baby by Smarty Ears–A very simple app to expose children to all sounds of the Spanish languages and that´s easy for your child to manipulate on their own. Smarty Ears states that their app is suitable for “children of any age starting as soon as a few weeks from birth.” It’s divided in three categories: “Fun with sounds,” “Polar Opposite sounds,” and “My Phrases” your child just needs to tap the screen and they will hear the letter or phrase associated with it. My girl is 3 years old and learning her letters. This has really helped her recognize the shape and sound of letters and associate them with words. ($2.99)
- PicPocketBooks–Developers of a series of apps featuring quality children’s picture books on digital media so that they can enjoy reading any time, anywhere. They have a collection of five Spanish language books to choose from that are, gladly, very well translated. Your child can listen to the story being narrated and follow along with the large print letters that are highlighted as the word is read. Kinda like the bouncy balls we used to watch on TV! ($1.99)
- Shake the Animals–Nothing very fancy about this app, but it’s simplicity makes it ideal for little children that love to shake those phones. The name says it all–you just shake the phone and a new, very colorful animal appears on the screen while you hear his name in either English, Spanish or German. Perfect for the littlest of hands. (.99¢)
- Peekaboo Barn–This is one of our favorites because the illustrations and animations are so well done. Your toddler will be engaged with tapping on the barn door to see which animal appears behind it. Once the door opens, she will see the cute animal and will hear his name in Spanish or English, as well as the sound it makes. There’s a paid ($1.99) version and a Lite one for free.
- Little Pim Word Bag–One of our sponsors, Little Pim, is always on the forefront in developing multimedia platforms for language learning through their Pimsleur method. Their app, Word Bag, features the beloved Panda in French and Spanish. Children tap on his yellow shoulder bag and an object comes out full screen while you hear and see the words describing it. It’s ideal for word recognition in younger children and for those who are starting to read. ($1.99)
- MindSnacks–A language learning program, disguised as a game, in an app. Available in four languages, it comes with six games that cover basic vocabulary, reading, writing, listening and conversation skills. I was impressed by the fact that when you use it for the first time it asks you to take a short quiz to asses your language level and then it keeps track of your learning process. The games are definitely thrilling and challenging, even a bit addictive, while at the same time teaching your kids advanced language lessons. I would recommend this one for early readers through elementary. ($4.99)
- FeedMe–A fun game available in eight languages, including Spanish. The little purple monster wants to be fed all sorts of letters, shapes, objects and numbers. They appear inside a thought bubble and children need to choose from the options on the side and “feed” one to him by dragging it into his mouth. Definitely ideal for the preschool crowd that’s in the mood to acquire basic skills and knowledge. The more correct answers he gets, the more complicated the game gets. (FREE)
- Kidztory Classics–Brings to life in gorgeous animations and with Spanish narrations a handful of your kids favorite stories, such as: The Three Little Pigs and The Little Red Hen. The menu gives you the option to have the story read to you or read it on your own. What my girl enjoys the most out of this app is the sounds that she discovers when tapping on different illustrations on the screen. Lots of bells and whistles, literally. ($0.99)
- Pocoyize–OK, so this one is not in Spanish and it has nothing to to with learning another language, but we all have a tender spot for Pocoyó! This app lets you create Pocoyo-style avatars for yourself and your contacts. How fabulous is that? ($0.99)