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Nina Garcia's Favorite Apps for Kids

Parenthood and technology teach us two very similar lessons: Embrace change, and learn how to make that change work for you.

I’ll admit, I was not a fan of children with iPads when they first came out, and I’m still not a fan of children obsessed with iPads when they should be interacting with the world, their family or other people at the dinner table. However, I have discovered that if you know which products to buy and which apps to download, there is an entire educational realm at the palms of their hands.

First let’s start with the products you can check out that are significantly less expensive than an iPad. Here are three that are made just for kids:

VTech InnoTab 3s: This tablet lets your child play games, read e-books, listen to music, take pictures and create art. It comes with 20 apps, and more than 200 more apps are available to download. (Cost: $80 to $100)

LeapPad2: This is ranked the No. 1 educational tablet for children. It comes with 11 apps and a hundred more to download, which reviewers have called the most extensive and well-produced games on the market. (Cost: about $150)

Samsung Galaxy 3 Kids 7.0: This is an Android tablet specifically geared toward children. It comes preloaded with top-ranked apps for your kids and is equipped with a kid-friendly app store and parental locks. (Cost: about $230)

If you are a fan of the iPad and don’t mind handing it over to your kids (or giving them one of their own) there is another realm to explore. There are thousands of apps that will help your child improve on almost any subject, including learning a new language. Below I have listed a few of the best ones I have found so far. Please fill me in on any others, as I am always on the hunt for something new and challenging!

For counting, letters, shapes and colors:

Fish School HD, $2: (ages 2 to 5) This app has eight educational activities to help your toddlers learn to count from one to 20, as well as recognize numbers, letters, and different shapes and colors.

To improve vocabulary:

My First 101 Words (for toddlers), $2: Each word is shown through text and a video clip.

Mad Libs (ages 5 to 10), FREE: Mad Libs, just like you remember it, except the fill-in-the-black spaces are interactive.

Kids' Vocab Mindsnacks (ages 7 to 12), $2: Fun vocabulary lessons that help your child understand the words through 9 different games.

To learn a new language:

Gus on the Go, FREE: This app is available in 24 different languages. It’s recommended for ages 2 to 6, but kids much older (including parents) will enjoy Gus.

To study geography:

Stack the States (ages 8 to 12), $1: A fun way to learn state capitals, state shapes and their abbreviations.

Best eBooks for kids of all ages:

Green Eggs and Ham, $4: The e-book version of this timeless classic highlights the words as you read them and has interactive features on each page.

Little Red Riding Hood, by Nosy Crow: This app offers children a new take on the classic fairy tale and allows them to create their own version of the story by choosing different paths along the way. Check out other inventive book apps by Nosy Crow here.

My Story World: A great reading resource with over 70 interactive stories, and new stories added each week. Your child can choose from two different modes: “Read to Me” or “Play & Learn.”

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