If you were stuck on a deserted island with 15 kids and your iPhone or iPod touch, what apps would you have pre-loaded? Let’s presume they range in age from 2 to 12. This list was first posted on 6/10/09.

That’s was my starting question, which is summarized in my blog post for the NYTimes, here.

Obviously, you’d swim for shore, even if there were sharks. After a post to my own Twitter feed and the ECE Tech Listserve, group of fellow geeky teachers (especially Bonnie), I received the following recommendations. Here's the complete list -- my thanks to everyone who responded -- and if I missed anybody, please feel free to add to this list.

There's a lot of low quality in the App store, and there are already over 1000 titles marketed to children. But the good news is that, hey, how much can you lose -- $.99? Back in the old days, a bad software choice costs your $39.99. But back to the bad news -- there are some low quality iPhone/iPod Touch apps in the store. And they don't always get low public ratings. Which leads me back to our group and listserve. We need to tell the world about QUALITY interactive media for all platforms, especially the iPhone -- titles that are high in child control, provide multiple paths to success and give the children a developmentally appropriate challenge. The multitouch interface, combined with the accelerometer and the voice recognition represents the "perfect storm" for children's interactive media -- even better than the Nintendo DS. People who understand this interface and child development need to start making quality apps.

Here is a summary list of recommended applications, to review and add to...


From my RT of your question on twitter. . .

  • From @dld1 if you were stuck on a dessert island then the kids would rather
  • eat than play with their iPod Touch :) LOL!
  • from @shanetechteach tiki lite, some flashcard app, google earth
  • From @mmkrill Trace for problem solving. Checkers and Carries Dots.
  • Preschool Adventure- colors and shapes.
  • From @memachelle rt off the top of my head---#scribble & #alisjigsaw- my 5yo
  • g-son loves both- 16 month old loves scribble also
  • From @ann1622 Tempted to say the SitorSquat, though I suppose not helpful
  • on a dessert island! Ocarina and Google Earth?

Great question--and the image of 15 preschoolers on a desert island was
great, too. :-)


    • Warren,
    • Well I would include music (for singing, dancing, soothing and
    • teaching). THEN I would add creative tools like scribble, ocarina, whiteboard,
    • color tilt, and of course picture tools.
    • Maybe a couple of games - Carries Dots, Flood it Preschool
    • Adventure, and others.
    • For survival... flashlight, compass, TnL...
    • Hope this helps!
    • Gail Lovely

What's the Word on the Street Podcasts, Sesame Street - http://www.sesamestreet.org/podcasts
Subscribe via iTunes (FREE) What's the Word on the Street Dana Lilly

Great topic! Please mention the dangers of radiation for young children, and the recommendation to switch to airplane mode before handing them the iPhone. Thank you!

From my phone

[NOTE TO SHULI and anyone else interested, I'm planning on looking into this issue futher]


You always stir our imaginations. I presume this desert island lives
as a metaphor for “no internet, television, or movies” rather than
“survivors challenge.” So if the iPhone apps have to be the sole
source of the children’s media experience, what are the most important
titles? I will also take your metaphor somewhat literally and
suggest titles relevant to small group living.

Apps that help children make representations of their assumptions
about how something works, e.g. pinball construction kit on the
iPhone. They can do this in a collaborative manner.

Apps that help the children keep a digital diary of their experiences
and growth on the island, such as scrapbooks and videobooks. The
iPhone does video and stills, right?

Apps that allow children to invent new symbol systems to communicate
with each other: such as Kid Pix for the iPhone or any app that allows
the child to place invented symbols in a syntactical sequence to tell
a story or to report an event.

Apps with maps that can be virtually navigated, e.g. Google Street
Views, so that children can develop a sense of place. Combine this
with a database of what those spaces offer (produce, park swings,
coconut trees, dog shelters, turtle cays, etc.).

Apps that allow children to redesign those real spaces, sort of a Sim
City for your home town.

Apps that use the gyroscopic sensor in the iPhone to help children
learn to do something, like row a canoe, cast a net, play tennis in
the sand, bowl with coconuts.

I don’t know if these apps are available, but would be great if they

Ciao, George Forman

From the ADE listserv:

My three year old granddaughter grabs my iPhone every chance she can. She usually walks into my house, gives my a huge hug and says, "Grandma, Can I play with your iPhone?" Then she goes off by herself. I rarely need to help her. Her favorite app is JirboMatch. (Like Memory) But she checks out most of the apps. She likes to look at the photos, She plays Bubbles, BubbleWrap, Maze Finger, Tap Tap Revenge, Mini Piano, Koi Pond, Dots Free, Jirbo Says, Rain Stick, iHandy Level, She would use any app on her own, I just haven't downloaded any new ones recently for her. She really likes the TV shows (Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana) that I have on there.

My niece is almost 3 and she has her own page of apps on Auntie's iPhone. She adores:
· Toddlers Teasers – bought the pkg that has shapes, letters, numbers, and colors
· Preschool Adventure – colors, numbers (dot-to-dot style), shapes, body parts, matching, and animal sounds
· Scribble – draw with your finger (good for learning colors and expressing creativity; she saves them in my photos, so it’s kind of a digital fridge! (worth the .99 to upgrade from the free LITE to avoid the ads)
· Bubble Wrap – she likes to pop the bubbles!
· First Words – colorful images and you hear the word when you tap the image (sports, animals, shapes, letters, beach, colors, numbers, fruits/vegetables)
· iFog – get to draw on a foggy mirror (how much more fun is that??)
· ABC Animals – see and hear the animal and the corresponding letter and letter sound, double tap the image and you can trace the letters
· Tappy Tunes – this is a new one for me, but there are a bunch of songs, and you tap the screen to play the notes (i.e. ABC song)…as you tap, images of the letters and music notes show…tres’ cool (if you don’t know the song, there is a play button that you can use to play the melody all the way through one time)
· Sing Along – if you find yourself needing the words to childrens’ songs, then this is what you need. No music, just words
· Ocarina – turns your iPhone into a musical instrument. If you don’t have the iPhone with mic, turn on touch mode and you just have to touch the “holes” to make music
· Baby Flash Cards – another new one for me, but basically, flash cards of different images that kids can name (ambulance, acorn, ant, etc)…you can either show the picture and the word or just the picture and have kids guess.

Of course, she also loves her Sesame Street, Dora, and Blues Clues podcasts!

>My 5 year old loves:
>Word Magic

From the ACTEM listserv:

Having a preschooler, who digs my ipod Touch, I have a few:

Preschool specific:
*Animatch*: a memory game with animals and animal sounds
*iWriteWords*: a connect the dots type game to spell out words. They just
added an "easy" setting, which means my 3 year old finds more success. (has
a free lite version) (A similar one might be Letter Tracer)
*I See Ewe*: has different games, probably best for ages 2-3 (A similar one
would be Preschool Adventure)
Various "paper doll" games, like DressChica, or Wintergirl. Drag clothes
onto a character.

*Scribble* -- a fingerpainting app, kind of cool to see her taking what
she's picked up from iWriteWords and do it on Scribble. It also lets you
save the drawings to your photos, so I have several in there.
*FingerPiano* -- a little keyboard
*Jigsaw Wild *-- a jigsaw puzzle game. You can use their images, or those
from your saved photos, and there are different difficulty settings. I used
to set it on 6 pieces, the default is 12, and now she can do those. Because
you can use the saved photos, she occasionally does a puzzle of a letter she
learned on iWriteWords and repeated in Scribble. :)
*Pandora:* We have a Laurie Berkner stations (kids music) and can plug it
into the dock while we are making dinner, etc.

Other than Apps, there are some great podcasts (They Might be Giants, Sesame
Street, StoryNory) that are good for kids, and she likes to see her pictures
on there.

She doesn't access it very often -- maybe 3-4 times a week, for less than 30
minutes-- but she loves it, and would happily access it more if she could.
(Mean Mama won't let her.) I can't say I'd be excited to see a fleet of them
show up at her preschool, but it's what I handed her last night while we had
to have some time to sign our roofing contract, you know? ∫(And she promptly
sent a message out on twitter. ;)) She also now thinks that everything is a
multitouch interface, and has been seen swiping her finger across the
television to try to unlock it/turn it on, or on our laptops if she's bored
with whatever it was we're doing.

In the future I can see adding MatchMagic, and more musical apps like a drum
kit and guitar.

I have to say, watching her figure out the UI was pretty cool. She wasn't
yet 3 when I got it, and I handed it to her to see what would happen, and
she figured it out right away. I wish I'd recorded it, to show how when you
have no fear of "breaking something," it's much easier to learn!