When you purchase an ipad, be prepared to spend a little to get the best content out there for your kids. If you stick to the free stuff, you can certainly find some great apps, but in some cases, the more you pay, the more you get. Here are my picks for paid apps you can't do without.
Bugs and Buttons by Little Bit Studio LLC. (Normally $5.99 - currently on sale for 99c!!) This app is a must have. Beautiful graphics, lovely music that you could actually stand to listen to, and great games for kids to play with no instruction from adults. In fact, they will have to explain it to you. The bugs theme of course makes it something that would especially appeal to young children, but its an addictively good app that I kept coming back to when my head was about to explode from over doing the QCat matching....
Bugs and Bubbles and Bugs and Numbers which are both very worthwhile. If you pay for anything, these are the ones to pay for. The 99c deal will not last long so get in quick.
Also by the makers of Bugs and Buttons is the Dial Safe Pro app. This is a great app for teaching children how to call emergency services. I particularly like that you can customise for the Australian 'Triple Zero' as well as other versions. My only concern is that you would need to teach the children to use the actual phone setting in the emergency situation, not just the app! This is currently being offered for free.
Green Eggs and Ham full version by Oceanhouse media ($4.49). The classic Dr. Seuss read along. You can't go past this one! Yes, you could probably buy the actual book for less than the app, but the read along features are great and this app will help to build on basic sight words using a text many children are familiar with. Great for educators who have lost their voice for the day by 10am... Similar apps of other Dr. Seuss stories are also available.
Little Writer Pro by Innovative Mobile Apps ($1.99) This should really get a mention in the literacy and numeracy post, but it is the best letter tracing app I have come across. It is fully customisable with lower and upper case letters as well as numbers and the option to add photos. Australian children are taught reading through phonics, so the phonic sounds were helpful, although the US vocals can lead to accent copying! With support from parents and educators, this is a great app to back up the phonics children are learning in real-life contexts.
There are my top picks for paid apps. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but they each meet my criteria and are worth the money and time spent.
*This is not a paid review. I have not received any compensation from the makers of ipad or the apps listed. All graphics are sourced from itunes. All opinions are entirely my own.