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Letters and numbers were once about plastic blocks and glossy books. Interactive games were something you found only on the playground. But today’s classroom can be the real estate of a digital screen.
As a parent, you have to duel with kids and their short attention spans. But new teaching tools have arrived that make it easier to teach the alphabet and numbers to hyperactive little people—Google is also experimenting with kids education.
Worry not. Today’s child is born for the interactive screen. As a parent, you can try to limit their screen time but it can be a losing battle. The gentler option is to nudge them towards apps and tools which support their education.
Give them their screen time. Start them on these interactive websites and apps which lay the foundation for early word and number skills. Just make sure to kid-proof your device first.
1. ABCya! (Web, Android, iOS)
Age: Pre-Kindergarten to 5+
ABCya is a popular platform for educational games for kids. You’ll find games organized by grade level (Pre K-5) and game types. There are more than 300 educational games on the site. All games are free on the web version, but you need to pay a subscription if you want to access them on the Android or iPhone app. Some of the interactive games are also different on the mobile apps.
Arcade-style word alphabet games and number games are a friendly introduction to the ogre kids grow up to call mathematics. The few banner ads on the site are age-appropriate, so don’t let that bother you too much.
2. Amazing Alphabet Match-Up (Web)
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) is your port of call when you want to entertain your bored kids. We know they can be a simmering volcano. Visit the PBS website again for interactive alphabet and number games when you want to entertain and educate as well.
The Amazing Alphabet Match-Up is just one of the alphabet games on the site. This video is a quick intro:
Children just have to match the letter card with the word card that starts with the same letter. Simple, isn’t it? Alpha Pig plays a few more word games too. Then there’s George the monkey who likes to take the children on math adventures. Boredom isn’t an option when your children find the PBS Kids site.
3. Alphabet Antics (Web)
Alphabet Antics is one of those quick and casual games from the British Council that you can fit into a spare five minutes. The interactive alphabet game is about a monkey who needs some help with coconuts.
The alphabet game has three levels: Easy, Medium, or Hard. It is a simple game meant to help your child practice the letters.
The monkey says the letters out loud and the child has to click on the right coconut to help the monkey clamber up the tree. With each wrong answer, the monkey drops down a notch or two. Also, choose between capitals and small letters to make the child recognize both.
4. Duck’s Alphabet (Web)
If a monkey and a snake don’t quite do it for you, then try a duck. This Flash game will ask your child to sign in. A parental email is also required, but there’s no follow-up verification. There’s nothing to be scared about, as the game is clean and simple.
The colorful game prepares your child to read by helping them recognize sounds and the letters they stand for. This phonological awareness is the first building block for reading. Thanks to the parental email, you can receive updates about your kid’s progress with the alphabet.
5. Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen (Android, iOS)
Sesame Street needs no introduction. But Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen is all about word building. Don’t worry, these words are just three to four letters long. The lessons almost mimic a real-world exercise of baking cookies in the kitchen. Instead of flour and eggs, children use consonants, vowels, and color to make the treats.
Kids can “eat” them or offer them to the Cookie Monster. There are more than 350 word cookie variations and the Cookie Monster, plus, Chef Elmo, are there to hold their hands through it all.
6. Numberlys (iOS)
Numberlys is not a game by its very definition. It is a story app that takes on a unique approach to teach kids about the alphabet. The storytelling is designed to spark imagination and the fantasy theme is sure to keep your child absorbed.
Check out the video trailer which shows how six friends find their footing in a world with has only numbers and no words.
A former Pixar designer created the app, and it comes well-recommended in the iTunes reviews. Yes, it costs a few bucks but the experience could be worth it.
Download: Numberlys for iOS ($5.99)
7. Tiggly Chef Addition [Broken URL Removed] (Android, iOS)
We continue to cook with this fun-filled and free app that will not only help your child learn numbers, but also how to add them. First, they will count items to add to a bowl and then follow the numeric symbols to cook the “recipes.”
Look at it this way: children learn to follow instructions, perk their cooking skills, and also learn a bit about numbers in the process.
The counting game has different levels with more addition problems containing drawings, verbal explanation, and math equations. The game is part of the Tiggly Math Series which also includes Tiggly Subtraction and Tiggly Adventure.
Download: Tiggly Chef Addition for Android [No Longer Available] (Free) | iOS (Free)
8. Peep and the Big Wide World (Web)
Age: 3 to 5
This one teaches a bit of science and a bit of math. The site for preschoolers is based on the live-action series of the same name narrated by Joan Cusack. Peep is a newly hatched chick who goes on daily adventures with his friends Chirp the robin and Quack the duck.
They roam around in a large urban park they call “the big wide world.” Here, Peep learns science and math activity-based games like Peep Feet and Measuring Me.
The site also has many videos for parental instruction. They have a role to play, because the games are based on activities children should try out in the real world to grasp the idea of numbers, measures, and scientific concepts.
9. CoolMath4Kids (Web)
Age: 12 and under
CoolMath4Kids is part of a trio of math-related sites that cater to different age groups. There’s CoolMath with games on topics like algebra, pre-calculus, and more. Coolmath-Games serves up fun ways to develop logic with interactive games of all types. And then we have this site, which calls itself an “amusement park of math games.”
The interactive math games teach kids about basic operations with names like Alien Addition and Minus Mission. Trust me, there are less fun ways of taming numbers and if you ever run out of games, then head over to these free math games at a gallop.
10. Bugs and Numbers
This is an app that has math games for every young age group. Each is designed to help a particular math skill. For instance, a kid can start with recognizing numbers and matching them to shapes. Then later, they’ll hone these early math skills from the puzzles at the other end of the 18 games in the app.
The first six games are for preschoolers. The next six are for kindergarten and the final six focus on early elementary skills. All three stages happen around a “bug city.” And it’s not scary at all!
Download: Bugs and Numbers for iOS ($2.99)
What Others Ways Can You Use to Teach Kids?
There are a bazillion apps and websites today where you can teach kids about letters and numbers. Kids are programmed to play, and these innovative apps meet their every need. You’ll find plenty of educational mobile game apps too. But what if you want to homeschool your child and take some of the learning offline?
Well, you can borrow an idea from Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen and open your pantry door. For instance, you can teach them the basics of math and science by baking cakes and muffins together. Or ask them to count the condiments. And there’s nothing quite like alphabet soup to learn a little while eating!
Don’t forget about some awesome typing apps to help your children learn to type, too.
And if you’re ever questioning a game before allowing your child to play, check out our explanation of what video game ratings mean.