Driving anywhere this holiday? Yeah, I bet you are and I also bet you are already packing the aspirin for the parental headache that happens around hour two. Cries of boredom, sibling rivalry, crying, shouting, arguing and, the best one, the need to wee JUST after you’ve overtaken that enormous truck you’ve been stuck behind for the past two hours.
So, here at PlayPennies I realised that it was time we used those smartphones of ours to their full capacity. It’s time to get those iPhones, iPads and Android devices working for us by keeping the kids busy and entertained for as long as possible. Here are eight apps that are either free or below £2 for your kids to enjoy.
This game is, sadly, only for the iPhone users out there and will cost you a fairly expensive £1.49. It is, however, a brilliant puzzle game for kids that has aeroplanes, toys, boats, ducks and cars for them to choose from. There are 39 puzzles, some of them are animated, and kids drag and drop the pieces to complete the image.
This is a hugely popular app actually. I did get it for my Android tablet but I just did not get it. I found it random and boring. My tot, however, was hooked. You stroke him, tickle him, give him milk and make him happy. Or you can bop him and hurt him to make him cry. Tom will also repeat back what the kids say to him in a funny voice. It is free for all platforms but will ask you nicely to pay for extras.
Another i exclusive – for the iPhone or the iPad – this game costs 69p and is great for kids who love diggers and cars. They can choose from 30 different vehicles and then customise it by dragging different parts onto the chassis. They even have an anti-gravity thruster. Awesome.
In a unique twist, this game is more expensive on the Android than it is on the iPhone or the iPad. You can expect to pay around 69p for the former and £1.84 for the latter. This app tells a story while also adding in puzzles and activities. It will keep the kids entertained and educated and the controls are easy enough to include most ages over three, as will the Read To Me option.
This is an expensive chap. Actually he breaks my promise of keeping the prices below £2. However, I own quite a few of the Dr Seuss apps and they are truly genius. Perhaps it is my own Dr Seuss bias here but this app teaches your kids the alphabet the same way as the book and is great for teaching them to read while entertaining. You can get him for around £2.50 on all platforms.
The iPhone and the iPad take this one and it will cost you £1.49. This interactive nursery rhyme game animates each scene from the poem and lets kids interact with the spider, the sun and the fly. It’s cute and actually rather addictive.
Free on the iPad, this is a totally delicious app. As a parent sitting in the passenger seat (especially if you don’t get motion sick) this will even entertain YOU as the kids sleep. You can colour in the pages, make your own and generally just have fun.
Suitable for all platforms and costing around 68p, this game has you flicking the ball into the back of the net from different positions. The type of flick you use determines whether you curve or lob the ball, get it in or make a foul shot. It’s rather fun actually, even if you have no interest in football whatsoever.
Just remember that while kids are playing on your lovely smartphones or tablets they are also able to access other applications and can accidentally cost you money. The mobile phone experts, Recombu.com, suggest that you turn off all your important applications so kids can’t send blank emails to important clients or browse the internet. They also recommend getting decent headphones so you don’t have to endure the sound effects that go with the games…
And for Android users, please remember that, unlike with iTunes, you don’t need to type in your password to download content so make sure you install a blocker before you let them take the phone. My grateful thanks to Recombu.com for helping me out with images and information!