iPad for Toddlers - Fad or Learning Tool
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The Ultimate Colouring Book
I have been lucky enough to have been using the iPad for a full week before the Canadian launch. While some people have a clear idea of what they will use the iPad for, I have been trying to discover my own "killer app" for this beautiful device. I quickly discovered that my kids (youngest 16 months and the eldest 3 years old) really gravitated to Apple's latest gadget. As much as I hate to deny it, I suspect the iPad will be as much a toy for them as it is for me.
To celebrate the launch of the iPad in my home country, this is a guide for iPad owners who are also parents of toddlers (ages 2 to 7). Be warned that this guide does cover some technical information (especially with converting your videos), but don't get discouraged! There may be some good ideas and apps you may want to try out on your new Apple tablet.
Nearly all the applications referenced in this article are FREE to download, so save that money for milk and Aspirin.
Also, before we continue - if the thought of placing your iPad into the
grubby-greasy hands of your child makes you sick, then this guide isn't
for you. Then again, if you're a parent of a grubby-greasy toddler, the
chances are they've broken more valuable stuff, so what's an iPad? If
you are really nervous about having your child handle an iPad, consider
getting article insurance for it (be sure the coverage includes crayon
and plasticine damage).
A silicone cover and a screen protector may be a good investment.
Note: Although this article is written to be platform agnostic, I am a Windows user, as such I am going to be using 3rd party software that may not be available on the Mac.
Turning your iPad into a Digital Colouring Book
The iPad's large 9.7" screen and sensitive gesture detection makes it a great device to do some digital finger painting! There are a lot of different painting and drawing apps out there, but the two I have picked are Doodle Buddy and Adobe Ideas which are both free downloads. These two apps are slightly different from one another and the one you pick depends on your child.
To convert your iPad into a digital colouring book you will first need to find colouring book pages from the Internet (or any black-and-white clipart will do) or scan them if you already have some on hand. My son loves Pixar's Cars, so I have a bunch of Cars colouring pages saved as JPGs all ready for the iPad (I also re-print them as my son rips through them).
Once you have your pages assembled, you will need to import them in to iTunes as you would any other photo and sync the images with your iPad.
Tip: I keep a master directory on my data drive called "iPad Photos" and categorize all my photos in sub-directories, which then creates albums within the iPad photo application. Thus, I put my colouring pages in a directory path like "iPadPhotos/colouring pages/".
Now that you have the colouring pages on your iPad, you've effectively turned your iPad into a digital colouring book. All you need to do is launch Adobe Ideas or Doodle Buddy and open your colouring pages from within that application. Your child can now draw on top of the images, save them, or even email them to friends or family members.
Doodle Buddy vs. Adobe Ideas
While both applications are free, they treat images in different ways.
Doodle Buddy is by far the more child friendly app. There are sound effects while drawing, and there are funny stamps they can use to populate their creations like frogs, lady bugs, and trees. However, there is a bug in the program which squishes images to one side of the drawing canvas. Your child may not care much about this however, they're probably more interested in drawing.
Doodle Buddy: Imported images may not scale properly, but kids will have fun anyway.
Doodle Buddy also allows you to save your child's creations back into your iPad's photo library, which is something Adobe Ideas can not do at the moment. Both Adobe Ideas and Doodle Buddy can email drawings.
Adobe Ideas is less child oriented - the UI may not be as intuitive to a toddler - so be sure to try it out before deciding if it is appropriate. Adobe Ideas has the advantage of scaling images properly to the drawing canvas which may make it easier for your little one to draw on.
Also as an adult, Adobe Ideas has a little more polish.
Taking Advantage of Nick Jr.'s Printables
On Nick Jr.'s website there are simple activities which you can print out and give to your child to play like Swiper's Matching Game, crossword puzzles, and colouring pages with Max and Ruby on it. These "printables" are perfect for loading onto your iPad and doodled on using the above drawing apps (Adobe Ideas and Doodle Buddy).