Every morning at about 5:30, Bryn tiptoes out of her room to find her insomniac Daddy in the kitchen pouring his first of many coffees for the day. While I’m happily taking advantage of the extra space in bed, the two of them curl up side-by-side on the couch or patio where they can see the sun come up. She’s got her morning milkies and her pink Kindle Fire, and he’s got his coffee and iPad. They chat, take selfies, share videos back and forth, and ease into the morning together. It’s a routine we all love.
By the time I get out of bed, it’s time for Brian to start getting ready for work while I make breakfast. One of the awesome features of the Kindle Fire Kids Edition is that I am able to set goals and limits for Bryn’s usage. I can require a reading goal before she can access any games or apps, I can set an overall time limit for the day, and I can set a time range for using it so it’s never accessible after bedtime.
You can really drill down and be specific with your goals and limits. For Bryn, I allow 30 minutes of books, 30 minutes of videos, and 30 minutes of games each day. I know it sounds like a lot, but generally this means that by the time Brian needs to get ready for work, she’s used most of her device time, and there are no arguments about it throughout the day. It leaves the rest of the day free, and it’s been an amazing learning tool for Bryn.
Here’s where it gets even better. We have a subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives access to more than 13,000 kid-friendly books, apps, games, videos, movies and TV shows from brands like PBS Kids, Disney and Sesame Street. When you buy a new Kindle Fire Kids Edition, one year of FreeTime Unlimited is included. To renew will only costs $2.99-4.99 a month Prime members depending on the size of your family! Um, yes, we will be doing that.
Using the parental controls, I was able to set up a profile specifically for Bryn that limits her access only to content appropriate for her age. Using FreeTime Unlimited, her profile does not display ads, options for in-app purchases, links to websites, or links to social media. If I want to use her device to access the Internet or social media, I just switch to my profile and enter my PIN. It’s pretty intuitive to use. Not quite as intuitive as an iPad, but once you figure out the basics, they’re hard to forget.
Amazon is running a couple of good promotions now through December 2017 (affiliate links):
If you are not a FreeTime Unlimited member, you can purchase these apps individually from the Kindle app store on Amazon. But having a membership saves us a ton of money compared to buying individual apps and hoping she likes them.
Here is a list of our favorite preschool apps available for free through FreeTime Unlimited. This list includes affiliate links for non-subscribers:
My absolute favorite new app is called Teach Your Monster to Read, and it was developed by the Usborne Foundation to teach letters, phonics, and reading full sentences. (Disclosure: I am an Independent Consultant for Usborne Books & More, and you can shop my ecommerce website using the link in my sidebar.) This awesome app game is available for free on your computer, free through FreeTime Unlimited, or for $4.99 if you want to download it from one of the app stores. Bryn just discovered this new app, and she’s madly in love with it. It’s definitely a fun game, and more engaging than tracing letters, etc. There are plenty of levels to grow into as she’s learning to read.
Check out this cool trailer! Doesn’t it look like fun?
If you are not a FreeTime Unlimited subscriber, be sure to follow the Teach Your Monster to Read Facebook page, where they announce promotions to download the app to your device for free!
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings is one of our all-time favorite FreeTime Unlimited apps. My favorite feature is 18 fully-animated original songs about feelings, because you know how preschoolers love to sing along! Over time, I’ve seen Bryn really internalize the messages, and she will sing “try, try again” when she’s working on a tough new skill. Five stars for emotional regulation.
I love all of the Super Why programming, including all of the apps available for the Kindle Fire. Super Why features fun and interactive activities, all about letter recognition and phonics. I think this particular app is one reason Bryn has such a strong grasp of letter recognition, and now she’s working on letter recognition and combinations.
Elmo drives me crazy on Sesame Street, but this Elmo Loves ABCs app is awesome! It includes 80 videos about letters, straight from Sesame Street, plus loads of fun coloring and tracing activities. In addition to learning letter recognition with fun songs and videos, Bryn loves the pre-writing games!
WordGirl Superhero Training by PBS is designed for kids 6-8, but it’s Bryn’s new favorite. This app includes four games with 30 levels each, all about vocabulary. I just love that it features a female superhero facing off against the “villains.” Each level requires language, critical thinking and logic.
Peg + Cat Tree Problem by PBS offers ten games and 50 levels to engage creative problem-solving and basic early match skills. It is geared toward ages 3-6 as an extension of their preschool curriculum.
ABCmouse Early Learning Academy offers a full curriculum for preschool, pre-K and kindergarten with more than 5,000 fun and interactive learning activities. This app covers reading, science, math, social studies, art and music. It’s a fantastic overall app with a ton of variety.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the BEST free Kindle FreeTime Unlimited apps for preschoolers. Have you found any great apps that have helped your preschoolers develop their math or language skills? How about emotional regulation and social skills? Or have you found some good apps about nature or science? I’d love to hear about them.
By the way, are there certain apps or videos included in FreeTime Unlimited that you want to block? It’s super easy using the parental controls. I blocked 83 SpongeBob Squarepants videos this morning.
You might also want to pop over to the Homeschool Sherpa to see a video about some of the books I recommended for National Aviation Day!
This post contains affiliate links. Please see my FTC Blogger Disclosure for more information.