Top 10 apps for preschoolers

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And then one day my husband and I finally got our iPhones and the destiny of both our iPods was decided for us by our then 2 and 4 year olds. That destiny was that they would take them over. So I started a mission of cleaning out any grown up apps and downloading safe, fun and educational games. You know. Something that wouldn’t turn them into a frustrated mess or a cocky winner. Something in between, that kept them happy and entertained for a short while. The other tricky part of this is that some apps, paid but specially free, have crazy amounts of banners and adds that keep switching screens on them, so I test drive all of them to see what kind of adds they have.
Now, like all things, I believe that electronic time should be limited and monitored. They don’t watch much tv – which is courtesy of our wonderful Netflix for children- and their iPod time is also limited.
Some days, I save their iPod time for when I know I will be taking them out on an errand with me. I have gotten so many compliments from strangers on how well behaved they are while I shop, to which I nod and smile guiltily. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Here’s a fun list. Enjoy!

1. Toca Boca Builder :

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If you are not familiar with the Toca Boca games, I really recommend that you get to it. Most of their games are paid, true, but they are so cute for the kids. My little ones, now 4 and 5 have pretty much all Toca Boca games and love them all! This is the newest one, as the name suggests, is all about building things. $1.99 App Store

2. The Lorax Garden :

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My kids are huge fans of The Lorax and my daughter specially loves this game.
You can replant a region of your choosing with potted plants that you grown yourself by giving them water and care hearts. Be aware, care hearts cost money. $0.99 App Store.

3. Interactive Alphabet ABCs :

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I got this game when my son was 2 and it was by far his favorite. The alphabet is interactive, so say there’s an Apple for “A”, your kid can take bites out of it by touching it. The music and artwork are nice, and this one had a “baby mode” lock which was great to keep the letter flowing without getting stuck on just one! $2.99 App Store.

4. Awesome Eats :

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This one is powered by Whole Foods, and it has the intention of showing them some healthy foods. It is a cute sorting game that gets challenging and fun for the wee ones and bigger ones, too. Best of all, free! App Store.

5. Loopy Tunes :

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Oh. I must admit that this is one of my favorites. The artwork and the sounds are amazing, and it’s all around a great music app. $1.99 and totally worth it.

6. Geo Dash :

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Powered by National Geographics.
Now, this is a game in the Mario Brothers meets Sonic style but much slower and easier. I’m not a huge fan of this type of game, but my kids are wild for it. They have converted all of their cousins and now everyone loves it. It’s one of those things that I can’t understand, but… Why bother.
$1.99 App Store.

7. The Math Tree :

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This is a very nice game to help with their early math skills. My daughter who is now 5 likes it a lot. $0.99 App Store.

8. Gesundheit! :

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Okay. This game is one of MY favorites and I am not at all ashamed to say I play it sometimes. Everything about this game is enticing, the artwork is amazing, the soundtrack is wonderful, and I love the little piggy guy. My son got a little freaked out at first when he got eaten, but soon the joy of throwing snot at the monsters face was more powerful and we all enjoy this game together! $1.99 App Store

9. Endless Alphabet :

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You might not be a big fan of that price tag. I get that! But if you are willing to drop some cash, this app is very educational and easy to use, extremely beautiful and the phonetics are amazing. By touching and dragging a letter to form a word, the letter makes its sound, helping the kids associate the visual and sound effects. $4.99 App Store.

10. Barefoot World Atlas :

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Being in a biracial home, my kids love to be exposed to other cultures. I love a good Atlas for myself, although I cannot answer you what is the Capital of New Zealand on the spot to save my life, but the thing about this Atlas is that it’s extremely easy to use, and appealing to kids. The artwork is quite beautiful, displaying major monuments on top of their country, giving you the option to click and see a real picture of it (although this feature is available only on iPads) – this app is optimized for iPhone 5, and our iPods are on the older side by now – still, this is a really great way to show them a little bit of how much world there is out there.
$4.99 App Store.

Now comes the REAL tip:
Some apps in this list, such as Gesundheit, Barefoot Atlas and Endless Alphabet were downloaded for free or for a fraction of the price. The way to do that is to check the App Store on a weekly basis, and go on their “New and Noteworthy” section to see what is new. Most of those apps are just coming out and they go at a trial price or free. Also, check for their “app of the week”, and make sure to always check under the categories is your choice to see if anything there looks interesting and is in your price range. Don’t forget that a free app, if not loved later by you or the little ones, can easily be deleted! No harm there.

I will follow up with a “top 10 free apps” soon! Hope you enjoyed this one!

The best [ever] Blackberry Muffins

I had to share this with anyone who may be reading.
I was looking for recipes to use some fruit I had in my fridge that was starting to go bad. I have never been a huge fan of Blackberries, or Raspberries for that matter, due to their seeds. We use them in smoothies around here but even then my kids will gladly skip them.
So I came across a couple of recipes to use my Raspberries, and that was almost a complete fail. Which made me the more determined not to waste my Blackberries!
Here’s a super easy recipe I found from Cupcake Canyon and I have to say, I have been getting tons of compliments!

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Yields about 18 muffins.

Ingredients:

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used plain Greek Yogurt)
1 tsp. milk
1 cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups (about 5-6 oz) blackberries, cut in half (if using frozen, lay them on paper towels to absorb excess liquid)

Directions:

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Grease 18 muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups.
I personally use and prefer silicone liners for muffins because the paper ones get really sticky sometimes. Or just a greased pan!

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream (or greek yogurt), milk, sugar, butter and vanilla.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix together with a few light strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the berries. Do not overmix, the batter should not be completely smooth.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used an ice-cream scooper for easier and even results.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, 17-20 minutes (or longer).
In my case, my oven runs on the higher side so I baked them for exact 15 minutes.
Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack.