5 Best Free Educational Apps for Toddlers
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The Best Free Educational Apps for Toddlers of 2021

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What if I told you that you can entertain your toddler and hone his learning skills all at the same time? 

I’m a big believer in hands-on interaction with kids. There’s no better teacher than mom or dad! But, sometimes…mom and dad need a break. Sometimes, toddlers get bored of the learning activities that his parents cook up. And other times, parents are so fried that they can’t even think up fun learning activities!

Educational apps for toddlers is the perfect solution for bored children and tired parents alike. 

But not all educational apps are that great. You might purchase an app that your toddler will hate. Or, you can download a free app, only to find that it’s a total snooze. Or, worse, the ads take your little one to potentially harmful websites.

So, do awesome free educational apps for toddlers exist? As a mom of a toddler, I can definitely say: YES! They do. You just need to know where to look. In this post, I’m sharing my top 5 favorite free apps for 2-3 year olds.

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How to Find Best Free Educational Apps for Toddlers

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions. 

How Much Screen Time Screen Should Your Toddler Have? 

When I decided to give my toddler screen time, I agonized over this question.

We’ve all heard the negative stories about excessive screen time: stunted language development, poor motor skills, a higher likelihood of developing ADHD…as a concerned parent, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t somehow hurting my daughter’s development.

If you’re worried too, let me reassure you: screen time is not evil! In fact, the AAP recommends up to 1 hour of high-quality, educational screen time a day.

Now, this is not a hard and fast rule. It’s a guideline. Before COVID-19 rolled around, I strictly followed this recommendation. But, after weeks of being cooped up with my daughter without reprieve, I decided to let it slide a little.

I firmly believe that these guidelines stem from a child’s need for interaction and stimulation. The truth is, many kids are watching hours of TV without interaction with other children and their parents. This lack of interaction and education can result in those severe behavioral and developmental issues.

Having said that, I firmly believe that if you’re suddenly working from home, bombarded with responsibilities, you should not beat yourself up for giving your toddler some screen time. Especially when you focus on providing quality media, like educational programs or apps.

Of course, I’m just another mom and this is my opinion. 🙂

Free Educational Apps for Toddlers - Best Free Educational Apps for Toddlers

What to Look for in Free Toddler Apps

The goal is to stimulate and entertain your child while teaching new concepts.

When you’re searching for a good educational app for 2-3 year olds, here are a few features you should consider:

  • Ads – Ad-free is definitely better. Your child can click ads and inadvertently make purchases or be taken to sketchy websites. 
  • Variety – For 2-3 years, variety isn’t quite as important. Just like a favorite movie, a toddler can play their favorite game over and over again. Not to mention, repetition also helps them learn. Having said that, a toddler will get bored eventually. And, when you’re looking at educational apps especially, it is nice to challenge.
  • Learning – Once again, repetition and gentle exposure is your friend. Most learning apps focus on verbal recognition, alphabet and number exposure, vocabulary development. The best apps were created by teachers or other educators (we’ll get to that in a minute).
  • Ease of Use – Your toddler’s motor skills are still developing. The interface needs to be what we consider very easy.
  • Price – I mean, you clicked on this article because it said free, right? Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of good truly free apps out there. Some of the basic features and games are free, but to get into the really good stuff you need to either purchase the premium app or subscription. Below I’m listing out the best free apps, but just keep this in mind.

5 Best Free Educational Apps for Toddlers of 2021

ABCmouse 

ABCmouse review- learning path (1)
Screenshot taken from ABCmouse app for Apple Store

Hands down, ABCmouse is my favorite educational app for toddlers.

There is just SO MUCH included in the app and it truly grows with your child (my daughter started playing when she was 2 and at age 3 she loves it even more). There are songs, games, activities, and lessons for every type of learner.

I also love that the app was created and tested by teachers. So, it’s fun for your toddler, but it also focuses on enhancing his development.

My daughter’s favorite activities include the letter and number recognition games, (the bubble game was her favorite!), closely by the coloring games. She colored the pictures in the app and then we printed them out so she could proudly display her artwork on the wall.

You can try the app for free here.

PROS

  • Created and tested by educators
  • Great variety of games
  • No ads
  • Point and reward incentives
  • Almost endless activities
  • Interface is great for toddlers

CONS

  • Only free for 30 days. $5 a month afterwards
  • HUGE. May need parental help to navigate at times

Khan Academy Kids 

Khan Academy Kids - Screenshot
Screenshot taken from Khan Academy Kids App for Androids

If you are absolutely, positively against paying for apps, The Khan Academy Kids app is a fantastic alternative to ABCmouse. 

The games are fairly similar, though there is less freedom and variety. Mostly, the lessons focus on building vocabulary, introducing numbers and letters, and identifying emotions.

It’s very interactive with toddlers. Honestly, I think my toddler is so engaged with this app simply because the game asks her questions. 

As the parent, I also love how basic the functions are. For the most part, she’s able to navigate through the different games by herself, with only the occasional push from me. 

PROS

  • Developed by “learning experts”
  • Great variety of games
  • No ads
  • Point and reward incentives
  • Easy to play independently
  • Interface is great for toddlers
  • Completely free

CONS

  • Lacks variety & freedom

Starfall ABCs

Starfall ABCs - Screenshot
Screenshot taken from Starfall ABCs app for Androids

Starfall is a free public program that was originally developed to help kids learn how to read. Now they offer a variety of apps for language arts and mathematics. 

I think the Starfall ABCs app is a must-have if you plan on homeschooling for preschool. We use this app with the Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool curriculum. 

The app is pretty straight forward. You just select the letter you want your toddler to learn about at the home screen. The app moves your toddler through a series of recognition games and repeats the different sounds of the letter. 

Aside from letters, you can also briefly explore shapes, numbers, colors, and a few seasonal activities.

The free version is very simple, but effective.  I’ve also never seen my daughter pick up letters or letter sounds so quickly.

PROS

  • Developed by “learning experts”
  • No ads
  • Interface is great for toddlers
  • This particular app is completely free

CONS

Lacks variety; basic

Note: it may be easier for you to search for “Starfall ABCs App” in your Google Play or Apple Store than use this link.

PBS KIDS Games 

Daniel Tiger - Screenshot
Screenshot taken from PBS KIDS Games app for Androids

If your child is already watching PBS KIDS, they will LOVE this app. There are so many fun games featuring their favorite characters. Admittedly, the games are a little basic, but if your toddler is bored and you’d like to entertain and teach, this is a great app to try.

The age for this app is entirely dependent on the individual games/shows. For example, the Clifford app is going to be geared towards a younger audience, whereas Wild Kratts will be too advanced for 3-year-olds.

The amount of individual games available is pretty impressive, although each of those games are very basic. Also, the “educational” value of this app ranges depending on which app your child plays.

PROS

  • Developed by PBS
  • No ads (that I’ve seen)
  • This particular app is free

CONS

  • Basic games
  • Not all games are educational
  • Interface isn’t as easy for toddlers

Trucks

Trucks Duck Duck Moose - Screenshot
Screenshot taken from Trucks app for Androids

This is a fun, free educational app for toddlers that teaches the everyday functions and routines of trucks.

At the main screen, your toddler chooses his favorite vehicle. Then, he’s shown that truck’s daily tasks. Trucks can teach toddlers about color and vocabulary.

Sometimes your toddler will run into activities that he might need help with, but are highly educational. For example, the garbage truck game involves sorting trash and recycle items. 

PROS

  • Made in partnership with Khan Academy
  • No ads (that I’ve seen)
  • Free
  • Fun sound effects and truck functions

CONS

  • Lacks variety; basic games
  • May require guidance on some games

What Are Your Favorite Free Educational Apps for Toddlers?

These are just a few of the best free apps for toddlers I’ve come across! My daughter just loves playing these games and, with the limited ads and in-app purchases, I feel confident letting her explore.

Hopefully my list makes it easier for you to find some that your little one will enjoy!

I’m continually exploring apps. If you have a few good ones that you think should be on this list, just let me know below! I know the rest of our readers would love your suggestions.

If you’re looking for more toddler hacks and tips, check out the articles below.

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