By Tracey Dowdy
There’s a great debate at my house. As far as I’m concerned, vacation starts the minute I turn on my auto-reply and walk out of my office. For my husband, vacation starts once we’re at our destination and bags are unpacked. That’s probably because he does most of the driving if it’s a road trip, or arranges the tickets if we’re flying. That naturally makes me chief baby wrangler and child entertainer, no small task depending on the length of the trip.
Flying can be especially challenging with little ones, as the anticipation of the trip coupled with long wait times at ticketing, security, the gate, and then the flight itself – all while surrounded by strangers – can be overwhelming.
These apps can keep your kids entertained or distract them when they’re getting restless, so no matter when you think vacation starts, it gets off on the right foot.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar app bundle (ages 2+) gives kids the opportunity to interact with Eric Carle’s classic – and very hungry – caterpillar. The bundle includes four apps that allow kids to create their very own hungry caterpillar, feed him, learn about colors, shapes and counting, and learn to recognize simple words, plus many other fun adventures all through non-competitive, imaginative play.
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Tiny Airport (ages 3-6) takes kids through three different scenes starting with their arrival by taxi and check-in through boarding and getting to fly the plane themselves. With over 100 separate animations, kids will sort bags, go through a check list and start the plane and discover what a dog is doing on the runway. Tiny Airport includes some timed activities and challenges for older kids.
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Toca Vacation is part of the Toca Life series of apps designed with free and imaginative play in mind. Kids can interact with a host of characters as they decide where to vacation, where to stay and what to do when they arrive. Options are exactly what kids would enjoy in real life – jumping on the hotel bed, digging for shells and buried treasure at the beach, or enjoying an ice cream with their friends.
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Eli Explorer (ages 5 and under) teaches kids age appropriate words and short phrases in 10 different languages, spoken by native speakers. Kids join Eli as he travels the world, exploring caves, jungles, forests and mountaintops. Order a glass of milk at a monkey tree bar, or dive into an undersea cave and listen to a monster band. The animation is simple yet engaging and very user friendly as kids need only tap and drag to interact with the game.
Plum’s Creaturizer (ages 4+) is based on the PBS KIDS web-original PLUM LANDING, a show dedicated to helping kids develop a love for and an appreciation of nature. The app allows kids to create their own wild creature by choosing from over 100 body parts and then take their creature outdoors and “photobomb” them into a scene. Kids can complete missions for their creature, answer questions about its life, diet and habitat, or watch a slideshow capturing “a day in the life” of their creation. All their creatures are saved in your device’s camera roll and to the in-app gallery.
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, Nook
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.