Portable Poke and Play
- What: Itsy Bitsy Spider App
- When: Ages 12 months and up
- Why: Entertaining, affordable, accessible
- Where: Amazon or iTunes
The Itsy Bitsy Spider (aka Insy Winsy or Eensy Weensy if you live in some places) never goes out of style. Nor does this interactive app for toddlers. We started using it more than five years ago, when we boarded a plane for an eight hour flight with two kids under two. Unlike everything else electronic at the time, this app held my eldest son’s attention time and time again.
All three of my kids still enjoy playing it. The concept seems simple. It plays the four lines of the beloved song. For each new line, you get a scene change. The app cycles through the same three scenes (and the same four lines, so I recommend headphones for you if not your little one unless you’re already immune to repetition), yet it somehow entrances them over and over again.
The spider starts off on the ground, moves up the spout, back down again, and over to a nice meadow reminiscent of Little Miss Muffet before repeating the sequence. Creatures emerge from the grass or jump out of windows at a touch in the first scene. If you tap the spider, it moves to the next scene and continues with the following line from the song.
Up at the top of the spout, clouds blow in and a squirrel will collect ten nuts one a time as many times as your child touches the animal. Back down the spout, kids can repeat the grass and window interactions with a slew of new critters emerging. Then it’s onto the sunshine, caterpillar, and girl in the final scene, before finally returning to the top of the spout to see the web and a rainbow as a bird flies by bearing a multitude of different hats to try on.
In one iteration, you can collect Easter eggs to take up to the web. That extra effect more than doubles the attention span of my three kids.
I suppose there isn’t an international equivalent for Itsy Bitsy Spider, since unlike their Wheels on the Bus app, it doesn’t come in multiple language options. Instead, you can record yourself singing the song, just in case hearing professionals on endless repeat doesn’t drive you crazy enough.
I keep this app on my phone at all times just for my kids. I use it in a pinch to keep them quiet, calm, and entertained for a multitude of reasons, from unexpectedly long lines and flat tires to known endurance events like air travel.