5 Holiday Apps for Family Fun

5 Holiday Apps for Family Fun
December 18, 2016 Astute
In Accessibility, Education

The holidays are here again … which means presents, sugar, family and friends … and the seemingly never-ending holiday break. (Right, parents?)

Children have so much energy … and they’re so excited for the holidays. Yet as a parent, family member, friend, or educator, while encouraging play is a very good thing, we also want to help our kids to keep learning while they’re out of school.

So here are five recommendations of fun, inexpensive tablet games that you can play with your children this holiday season to involve the whole family in the fun. (And the kids probably won’t even realize that they’re learning!)

Scribblenauts Remix ($0.99)

For iPad or iPhone

Recommended by TeachThought’s Sam Gliksman for its problem-solving and spelling aspects, Scribblenauts features your child’s favorite DC Comics characters and allows players to even create their own custom superheroes. If the game is played on a voice-enabled device (Siri), your child can also create objects using just their voice. An added bonus for the holidays: The most recent version (6.4) includes a Holiday Playground!

Scribblenauts Remix is recommended for ages 9 and up for infrequent/mild cartoon violence.

Learn more and watch a trailer: https://www.scribblenauts.com/scribblenauts/remix/en_US/

Elmo Loves ABCs ($4.99)

For iPad or Android

Created for children 5 and under, this game from Sesame Workshop helps toddlers learn letters, sounds, and words. It includes games as well as videos and other activities including coloring pages and can help grow music appreciation as well. Common Sense Media describes it as “an engaging, multi-faceted app for learning the alphabet.”

If your child likes this app, there are a host of other similar apps developed by Sesame Workshop featuring other favorites like Cookie Monster and Grover.

Learn more about all of the apps: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/apps

MadLibs (Free, but in-app purchases)

For iPad or Android

While for many of us, we probably still remember this as a paper-and-pencil game that we wrote in a book, MadLibs is not only a great way to get some laughs during the holidays, it can help your child learn about the various parts of the English language.

The app works just like the book did. Your child can enter different parts of speech on one screen … and then once completed, a silly story appears on the next. The most recent version (3.3.1) also includes holiday stories.

Getting Smart, a website that highlights learning innovation, recommends the app as “a super fun way to teach children about the different parts of speech, not to mention it nurtures bonding time when sharing the silly stories that result!”

The app is rated as friendly for all ages, but Penguin Group, which developed the app, recommends it for ages 9-11.

Learn more and watch a trailer: http://www.madlibs.com/apps/

The Oregon Trail: American Settler (Free, but in-app purchases)

For iPad or Android

Continuing in the “everything old is new again” category, how many hours did you spend playing Oregon Trail when you were younger? Well, the popular game is back … with a twist. In this version, you’ve already conquered the trail … and now you’re settling in the frontier.

Players now encounter building a home (or even a whole town!), raising crops and livestock … and yes, hunting and fishing as well.

While TeachThought’s Gliksman recommends the app for its educational value, he cautions that this new version has “angered a lot of users by adding lots of in-app purchases.”

Common Sense Media recommends the game for ages 9 and up; Apple gives the app a rating of 12+ for possibilities of simulated violence, infrequent mild language, and simulated gambling.

Learn more and watch a trailer: http://www.gameloft.com/en/game/the-oregon-trail-american-settler

GazziliScience ($1.99)

For iPad or iPhone

Yes, you can play with science on a tablet! GazziliScience, designed for children 5 and under but appropriate for even early elementary-aged students, helps children understand basic life science principles. The app includes six different activities including “Parts of a Plant, “The Four Seasons,” and “The Water Cycle.”

Worth noting: This app has a hearing-impaired mode, allowing words to appear on the screen as they’re spoken.

“Science can be a tough subject for some kids, but GazziliScience makes it easy and fun,” writes Emily Schiola in her recommendation in Digital Trends.

Learn more: http://gazziliscience.com/

Sources:

http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/38-learning-apps-and-games-for-elementary-students/

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/elmo-loves-abcs#

http://www.gettingsmart.com/2012/11/30-of-the-best-educational-ipad-games-kids-edition/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-apps-for-kids

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/the-oregon-trail-american-settler

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