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There are plenty of free iPad apps for entertaining toddlers, but few have much real educational value. This isn’t a problem for Learn with Homer, an app created by top literacy experts that overflows with well-crafted early learning content. Aimed at ages three to six, Learn with Homer makes reading fun and instructive. Upon launch, up to three different little ones can customize the app with a photo from the front-facing camera, which is then decorated with one of several virtual “thinking caps.” It’s a fun way to set the stage for what lies ahead.
In addition to the Hat Shop, a colorful map guides toddlers through four other sections: Discover the World, Learn to Read, Homer’s Clubhouse, and Story Time. Each offers a unique experience such as phonics-based reading or virtual science field trips, while the Clubhouse is an entertaining place where kids can kick back by drawing or recording their own voices.
I put the app to the test with my four-year-old son, who had no problem navigating the user interface. More importantly, Learn with Homer not only held his interest, but also made him want to return frequently rather than lose its luster after a short time — a problem encountered with other so-called educational apps. There’s only one caveat: A strong Wi-Fi connection is a must. Although Homer already weighs in at 273MB, additional content is downloaded at the time it’s first selected. To head off potential toddler impatience, parents also have the option to download all content from a specific section at one time.
While Homer does offer in-app purchases for extending the Learn to Read or Discover the World sections, this content and the app settings are tucked away where kids can’t accidentally access them. And rather than purchase eight single packs at $1.99 each, parents can buy two multi-packs for about $10 total – an affordable way to keep the app stocked with plenty of great learning content.
The bottom line. Learn with Homer is an engaging, immersive way to get kids reading, while remaining entertaining enough to keep them coming back for more.
iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
Loaded with fun, educational content. Optional login keeps user data synced between multiple iPads. Affordable in-app multi-packs. No ads.
Can’t use existing images for Hat Shop users. Recommended for Wi-Fi for offline use (no cellular data). Kids may become impatient with downloads via slower connections.