Toddler Flight Survival: Apps


Do you remember the days when you could go on a flight and just read a book or watch a movie? Oh, or even better, just close your eyes and fall asleep to the drumming of the plane? So dreamy. Instead, I get this knot in my belly before we go on a flight. Will my son be the next viral YouTube sensation like the "Demonic child" that threw the 8-hour tantrum (it's true, check it out)? I hope not! But, I do what I can to prepare to make a smooth, tantrum-free (or tantrum reduced) flight. 

Before my flight down to San Diego to visit my parents (Caleb's grandparents), I decided I better load up on apps. I know there are other tips and advice for keeping a toddler busy on a flight, and maybe I'll write a post on that sometime soon as well; however, I want to focus on apps. I want to focus on apps because when I did my search, I was completely overwhelmed at all the options. Almost like bringing a toddler into a toy shop and asking him to pick just one. How?!? 

So I did what any reasonable mom would do. I turned to FaceBook. I went to all my mom groups and looked for past inquiries from moms on apps. Here's the kicker: every time I saw a mom ask for app suggestions, everyone just gave other tips for flights. That's cool, but they (and I) want to know what APPs we should pick. That didn't go as I hoped, so I took another try: my friends. 

This is when I start singing, "With a Little Help From My Friends" to myself because when I asked MY FRIENDS on FaceBook, I got some real results. Thank you, friends. You rock! 

I couldn't purchase all of them, but I did download quite a few and noted the others for later (likely our next flight). I even created a folder on my phone for all the apps. Here's what it looks like (side note: there is a third page to the folder, but it's like white noise apps, etc.):

You can see most of the apps from my screenshot that I ended up with, but let's walk through them a bit more. Plus, I got you links to get you directly to my suggestions! Boom. 

Endless Reader

Our Rating: Loved it

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases (Starter pack of sight words $5.99; All 341 sight words. $29.99)

I was seriously doubtful with this one, but I figured it wouldn't hurt since the first few letters/words were free. But, I was amazed to see Caleb loving this app. It's such a cute app with great animation. You get letters A to F for free, but for more, you would have to make a purchase. We were totally fine with just these first letters. However, I may eventually buy more. 

It starts with the word "all" for A. You click it, and it says the word, "all," and then you have to drag and drop the letters to the outline of the word to complete the spelling. As you drag the letter, it makes the sound of the letter in a goofy way. Next, a sentence with the word shows up, such as, "Pinkerton gobbled up all of the cookies!" Again, you need to drag and drop the words into the sentence. As you pull the word along, it says the word. Lastly, it says the sentence and has an animation to go along. 

Caleb gets a huge grin on his face when the app has the animation. He particularly likes this little cookie monster, Pinkerton. 

Endless Numbers

Our Rating: Loved it

iTunes Rating: 4 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases (Numbers 1-25 $6.99, or 1-100 for $14.99)

This app is very similar to Endless Reader above. You get five numbers for free, which was all we needed. I might buy Numbers 1-25 for our next flight. Again, it has great animation and very educational. I think it even promotes hand-eye coordination with the drag and dropping. 

The app starts with a Ferris wheel, and you can pick which number to start. I try to get Caleb to go to #1 first because yea... Anyway, you drag and drop the numbers to the outlined number while the app says the number. Then it does animation like the monster guy on a unicycle. It moves to counting, 1 and 2, with drag and drop. It ends with addition, 1+1 = 2. It transitions to the number 2, and so it seems rather endless. Ha, get it, Endless Numbers.   

Sago Mini World

Our Rating: Loved it

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases (Subscription based)

For the free version, you get three options, "Forest Flyer," "Dress Up," or "Friends." As I write this, I realize we haven't even tried the "Dress Up" section, oh my! But on the flight, Caleb enjoyed the "Forest Flyer" section. You get to join Robin, the bird, in either a summer or winter scene. You pull Robin around with your finger and get him to try different things like eat a random cupcake on a tree. It captures Caleb's attention with the goofy things like gobbling up the cupcake and then getting frosting everywhere. 

The "Friends" section is excellent, too. You pick a character and then go through the neighborhood an knock on doors. Inside you play a game with another character friend.

We played this app two flights ago when Caleb was just a few months younger (around November 2017), and it was mostly me playing as Caleb watched. However, down to San Diego at 25 months, Caleb was doing most of the action. 

ABC Phonics

Our Rating: Pretty Good

iTunes Rating: 3.5 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases ($12.99 for premium pack, or $1.99 for mini-pack)

This one is less interactive and more just watching a little show, but Caleb likes these type of educational videos. However, only A-D are available for free. It was worth the download, though, because Caleb has watched it a few times both on the flight and once we've been home. The video is cute as it sings the alphabet and uses a bunch of words in the song that start with the letter it's featuring. It also does the pronunciation of the letter in the song, too.  For instance, the letter "A" goes like this: "A, a-ah-ah-ah-ah, alligator, ant, apple, airplane. Grr, I'm an angry alligator. I'm hungry. Give me an apple. Alligator wants an apple, but ants are on the apple. Ahchoo., Ahchoo..."

The animation is lively and keeps a toddlers attention. I don't think I'll end up buying the add-ons, but I do like having it as an option to present to Caleb if the others aren't doing the trick. 

Animal Friends

See pictures on the left

Our Rating: Pretty Good

iTunes Rating: 3.5 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases ($1.99/pack, or $3.99 for all packs)

There are four packs presented on the starting page, but only the Farm Pack is available for free. The other packs are the Savanna, Forest, and Ocean. Within the Farm pack, you can choose to play peekaboo, find it, or counting. We've had this app for a while now, and it's been nice to have. Didn't play it much on our last flight because we were more interested int he new ones that I've already mentioned above. But, this one could be easier for younger toddlers (like under two years).

So far, we've just played the peekaboo game, but the "find it" game might be fun now that Caleb is a bit older.  With the peekaboo game, the barn doors shake, and you have to touch the doors to open it. The doors open and an animal appears. I appreciate how it verbally says the animal that comes out of the barn doors and then shows the word, providing both an audio and visual component. Got to fit in that education anywhere you can. 

Overall, there isn't anything too special about it as there are many apps similar to this one, but it's been entertaining for Caleb, and I didn't delete in on my latest app purge, so there you go. 

Peekaboo Kids

See pictures on the right

Our Rating: Pretty Good

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: Free + In-App Purchases ($2.99 for all the packs)

This app is similar to the Animal Friends app, but with better animation. The barn game is free, but the other packs are locked and need to be purchased. There is a savanna, forest, garage, and theater stage option. I believe they are all peekaboo games.

The barn peekabo has the barn shake until you touch the doors to open them. Once you do, an animal appears and does something; then it verbally says the name of the animal. It has more humor with the animals, which makes it fun for the kids. My favorite is the horse that neighs, poops, and then laughs. There is also a cat that eats a fish and spits out the bones...funny stuff.

As I was reviewing the app for this post, I noticed another game available, "where is it?" Three animals appear on the screen, and it asks, "where is the cat?" You touch the right one, and the animal appears in the barn and does it's an animal thing. The animal does the same things as it does in the barn...maybe the kids won't notice.

I would buy this one over the Animal Friends. It's just a bit more sophisticated of an app. I think the other packs looks fun, and the animals are more exciting for a toddler.

There is a Monster at the End of This Book! Starring Grover!

See pictures on the left

Our Rating: Ehh, Not for Us...right now...but cute!

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: $4.99

I have a hard time with this review. I think this is a super neat app, and it's well done. However, Caleb didn't have any of it. I think there wasn't enough for him to do, and it was too much talking and not enough doing. It is a book - the app reads the book in the voice of Grover. Then it animates the page. Also, as it's reading it highlights the word being it is on so you can follow along. A mom's dream app if you can get your kid to do it. Caleb isn't one to sit for books much, but if your kid does, then I would recommend this app. And Grover is funny. He really doesn't want you to turn the page. 

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel

See pictures on the right

Our Rating: Pretty Good

iTunes Rating: 3.5 stars

Cost: $2.99

I know some kids love Daniel Tiger, but Caleb is just "ehh" on the guy. I keep trying to get him to like Daniel more - so wholesome and teaches emotions and behaviors. A mom can try. That said, Caleb will play this one for a little while. You can explore different areas of Daniel's everyday world: the bathroom, bedroom, music room, doctor's office, or take the trolley. 

In each room, you can touch different things, and it will do something. Caleb's favorite is the bathroom. You can touch the toilet paper dispenser, and toilet paper goes into the toilet. Then you can flush the toilet by touching the toilet seat handle. It makes a flushing noise as well. It's a great interactive tool, and the kids can explore things on their own. I have to help get Caleb into a room, but once there he can touch and explore on his own. I think he could manage to get into the room himself, but he's an impatient fellow, so mom needs to step in sometimes to show him it'll be fun, you'll see.

Fish School

See top picture

Our Rating: Ehh, Okay

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: Free

I have a feeling this one will be fun for Caleb once he's more interested in the alphabet and counting. He will watch the letters and numbers, but this one doesn't stay playing long before he starts manically tapping on the screen - this is the cue that he wants to do something else. I can see the benefits of this app, though, as it teaches letters, numbers, and shapes. 

Basically, it has fish come in and make the shape of the letter, number, or shape. When the letter appears, the app will verbally say the letter. It also shows a picture of something that starts with that letter, like A shows an apple. It's a fun way to go through the alphabet or numbers, but may be better for a slightly older toddler. I do like that it's free, though!

Smart Baby Shapes

See bottom picture

Our Rating: Ehh, Okay

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

Cost: Free

This app is good for learning colors and shapes, but it's nothing to write home about. There aren't that many features, but it's free. This app is another one that's been sitting on my phone. The gist of it is that you have to match the color and shape of the floating object to the stationary one in the center. For the longest time, Caleb would just watch me play it. However, he just started to get the hang of it recently and will play for a few minutes. So, eh, worth a download. Why not, it's free.

Baby Bubbles

See picture to the left

Our Rating: Good (for a few minutes)

iTunes Rating: 4 stars

Cost: Free

There isn't much to this app; bubbles float up from the bottom of the screen, and you try to pop them. More and more bubbles appear. Nothing happens if you don't pop them. There are no levels. But you can get in sort of a trance trying to pop all the bubbles. It's reminiscent of Tetris but far less complex. Caleb likes bubbles and will watch or play for a few minutes. But every few minutes you can "use up" on the plane is worth it. 


See picture to the right

Our Rating: Good

iTunes Rating: 4 stars

Cost: Free

Coloring without a mess, sign me up! You just use your finger and draw. The color changes automatically, but they are all bright and fun. You can change the thickness of the lines and the type of lines. Caleb just scribbles for a bit, but it's better than trying to gather up markers and paper than trying to keep everything on the little tray table.  

YouTube Kids

Our Rating: Must Have

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

This app is just YouTube but with content specifically for kids. Caleb would definitely say this is his favorite app. I didn't have this up at the top of the post because it's not a game, but videos. Caleb enjoys watching Blippi or other weird color and alphabet type videos. Sometimes I wonder if I should just start making random videos with colored trucks and call it a business. Some of the things he watches seem boring, but hey it keeps him occupied for a decent amount of time - the most out of any of the above. It's what he'll pick if he gets ahold of the iPhone or iPad, too.

PBS Games & PBS Video

Our Rating: Great

iTunes Rating: 4 stars 

I love PBS, and I feel good about letting Caleb watch their shows and play their games. It is educational and wholesome. I just discovered the games app, so I can't go into much detail. But, our first look at it is fantastic. I appreciate how the different characters lined up along the right side to navigate to videos or games specific to that character. 

Funny Animals

Our Rating: Ehh, Might delete it, but keeping it for now

iTunes Rating: 4 stars

Nothing earth shattering on this one. It shows an animal then says the name. It's nice since features some animals that aren't in the other apps like a flamingo. Maybe worth a download for a flight and then delete it. 

Starfall ABCs 

Our Rating: Not for Now, Maybe Later?

iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars

We haven't played this one since Caleb hasn't show much interest. I decided to share it because two friends did recommend it, and it looks like it might just be an app Caleb will enjoy as he gets a little older.

I got a ton of responses from friends, and I couldn't download everything. Here's a few that I have on my "waitlist": Lazoo SquigglesToca BocaABC Mouse, Nick Jr.Petting ZooLOOPIMAL, and Press Here.

Whew! That's a lot. But, I'm game for heairng more. Do you have a favorite app for your little one? Or have you played any of these that I shared above? Tell me all about it!