The iPad offers a stunning array of accomplished educational games, and its interface is intuitive to toddlers, making it the perfect computer to facilitate learning. But out of the dozens of apps I’ve tried with my 4-year-old son, Isle of Tune is the one he returns to most. (The animation program Toontastic comes in a close second.)

There are many synthesizer programs with playful interfaces in the App Store, but Isle of Tune combines music-making with village-building, allowing little ones to visualize their songs as tiny towns.

Draw a road, add some street lights, trees and houses, assign sounds to those objects and drop in a little car. As the automobile drives along, it triggers tones and rhythms, creating a musical journey that sounds like a real composition. (I often have to check to see if my kid hasn’t accidentally fired up Aphex Twin in iTunes.)

A free version of Isle of Tune is available on Google’s Chrome browser, too. While a mouse and keyboard don’t offer the same ease for little hands, the gameplay’s uncomplicated brilliance remains.