Time to get to the free stuff!
These apps were listed free at the time of publishing. Each app focuses on literacy or numeracy concepts and met the criteria I set for myself. If you have other great apps in your collection, why not share them in the comments?
There are lots of these apps, so I did not do an indepth review of each, instead I have given you an overall idea and a link to check out the features of each app on itunes. Where apps require payment for more options I have said so.
ABC Alphabet Play by Grasshopper Apps (Free) – can set for phonics lower case. Choose the correct letter from four random options. US vocals and phonics.
Crabby Writer Phonics Read and Write by Mrs. Judd's Games (Free) – seaside themed letter tracing app. Choose 3 or 4 letter words, tracing based on phonetic sounds. US vocals and phonics
Ice Land! ABC Ilearnwithboing; By Tribal Nova (Free). 'Words' is free in light version, you have to buy phonics and letters levels. US vocals and phonics, lower and upper case. Parent tracking option available for tracking children's progress. Part of a series that includes apps for numeracy, shapes, colours, etc. The graphics are a little over-stimulating but children seem to love them.
see a photo of a real animal whilst hearing the sound that animal makes. Great for independent play or part of a group time. Categories include domestic and wild animals, birds, musical instruments, household items and transport. A great and easy app for bubs.
Giraffe’s Matching Deluxe by Tomato Interactive (Free). Standard memory match game with varying levels of challenge. Straight
forward and easy to pick up.
Photo touch Farm Animals; by Grasshopper Apps (Free) A basic photo match game. Easy to use and suitable for toddlers through to early preschool.
Also check out; I Like Books - 37 photo books in one. Great for early literacy. This is a paid app but one I thought worthwhile given the amount of content you get and quality of the photos. Mostly US terminology.
What Does Not Belong by Brain Go LLC (Lite version Free): Pick from 5 photos the item that does not belong in the category and throw it in the trash bin. Some are a little hard to figure out! Lite version is free - if your children like it, you can fork out the $1.99 for the full version.
Springbird Maths Becomes very hard very quickly for preschoolers but would be great for those who are already familiar with math concepts and can identify numbers on their own. More suited to early primary. Pay for more levels and packs to unlock further gameplay.
Kids Patterns by Laura Bangerter. Sequencing and number recognition suitable for 5-6 year olds who can identify numbers on their own. This is a paid app but there is also a lite version available to trial.
Feel Clock by Codsworks (Free): Great for teaching the time in a group setting. Would also be suitable for home use but it is not a game as such, rather a tool for teaching the time. I love that it teaches analouge primarily.
Tangrams; There are 100's of tangram apps for children and adults on the net. Unfortunately they are all call "tangrams" so I naturally can't find the link to the one I tested. But I've linked to a better one at the end of the paragraph anyway. Basic tangrams game. Way too many written instructions for pre-schoolers but click them through to the puzzle page and they will take off. One puzzle on the lite version. Unlock the full version at cost for 110 puzzles. Alternatively spend 99c and get this app instead for a higher quality graphic.
My Top Pick for Free Apps for Numeracy
Play Lab Series. By CJ Educations (Free) Play Lab and Play Lab 1 2 3 are awesome free apps that are fantastic for younger children from as early as 2 years (should you choose to use an ipad for children this young, be sure to limit screen time).