Every children will pass through a phase in their lives where they learn about counting. My 3-year old son, Philip, is now learning how to count up to 40. While there are manyapps that offer to help your juniors to count to 20 or even 100, there are very few that show how to do finger counting.
Finger counting is an important skill to have because a lot of the basic math calculation that your juniors will perform until they are eight years old will involve some forms of it. It is also a form of universal sign language that is applicable almost anywhere on earth. Philip has been able to count with his fingers from 1 to 10 since last year, but he still needs to practice his fine motor skills to show the number 3 and 8 with his fingers.
Little Digits is an interactive app for the iPad that focuses all of its features to finger counting. Little Digits has a free play mode that by default would show the number 0, but when you put your finger on the screen, it will immediately change that number to 1. Little Digits will track the number of fingers that are touching the iPad and then show the corresponding number with an accompanying voice over. Using this approach, Little Digits attempts to encourage your juniors to play and experiment with the app by tapping the screen using as many or as few fingers.
One caveat, though, you would need to turn off the multitouch gesture settings for your iPad to allow Little Digits to override the default handler for multitouch gesture. This would prevent you to do four fingers swipe up, left, right and pinch. While this could be annoying if you (and your juniors) have gotten used to it, this is a worthy enough price to pay to fully experience Little Digits' excellent features.
The touch sensors in Little Digits work great for me, as an adult. Little Digits can support up to 10 fingers, even though iOS formally supports up to 11 fingers. It can adapt to whatever I'm doing, whether adding my fingers to the screen or lifting them up.
Little Digits also offers a nice and rather intuitive way to practice addition and subtraction. It will display a math problem, e.g. 3 + 4 = ?, that you can solve by placing your fingers on top of the screen. Intuitively, you should start by placing three fingers on the screen, and add the other four fingers (either one finger at a time or four fingers at the same time). Little Digits will immediately count the total number of fingers and verify whether we put the right number of fingers as the result of that addition. Little Digits also has a section where your juniors can practice subtraction with finger lifting, instead of finger putting.
How Philip interacts with Little Digits
At first, Philip was unwilling to try placing his fingers in the free play mode, but when we tried the addition mode, he just couldn't stop. As of right now, this is one of his favorite activity because he can force me to contribute one hand to combine with his hand, in order to solve the addition problem.
Nevertheless, one small problem still exists. Even though Little Digits are designed for toddlers, there seems to be an inherent problem with toddlers and their fingers (in general). For example, because Philip's fingers are smaller than mine, he has some problems while playing Little Digits. Either he accidentally rests his palm on the screen or puts his fingers to close to each other that Little Digits would have trouble detecting the correct number.
Little Digits is a unique app with a special purpose, i.e. practicing finger counting skills, that will be essential to your juniors. Given enough practice with the app, I believe your juniors could improve their fine motor skills significantly, allowing them to control each finger independently. Being able to entice Philip to learn the basic concept of addition and subtraction using his fingers has earned Little Digits a special place in my collection of recommended educational apps.
Get Little Digits on the App Store.