While we’re traveling my kids seem to get all the scene time they want. However, I’m not a fan of this so to ease my mom guilt I’ve come up with some educational apps, podcasts, and audible stories I’m OK with for their enjoyment. I’m happy to let their devices be their entertainment. However, I’m not talking about time in the airport terminal or train station but while traveling, they have their devices. This is actually for the other passengers on a plane or train because my kids will talk excessively! Not bad, they love to play pretend with each other and their American Girl dolls or Lego figures, but in the end, others don’t want to listen to it. For this reason, both of my kids get either a phone or IPad to ‘play’ on while traveling.
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This started me thinking about apps, movies, podcasts, and audible stories I can add to our phones and IPad’s to ‘entertain’ them with. I still ask my kids to take a nap on a long flight or draw and color in their sketchbooks, but the use of electronics is rampant. I decided if they were going to watch so much that I’d like at least some of the time to be educational. This has become harder and harder as my kids get older. Not because there aren’t apps and podcasts, etc. out there but because of what Evelyn has gravitated toward watching. She is in love with DIY videos on Youtube. I think she might end up writing her own blog one day all about DIY. Now she can’t watch them while on the plane but when we’re traveling by train it seems like the only thing she watches.
My younger daughter is easier to convince to play the apps I’d like her to play with or watch. I do wonder for how much longer that will be though. It’s amazing how fast their tastes change and all the new things they want to do. For the moment she likes puzzles and coloring apps mostly but will play Sushi Monster or Prodigy and Stack the States which are educational. For fun, she has gotten into the GoldieBlox apps as well as move it! and Mahjong.
Depending on your kid’s interests, really depends on which apps, podcasts, audible stories, etc. they will like. My advice would be to download the app or podcast, etc., and have your child play with it way before your trip. This way they are able to be entertained immediately upon given the device of choice to play on, rather than the time it takes to learn a new app. You want to relax them not stress out or annoy them. Plus it should give you an understanding of when you can push the education apps and when it’s time to let them color or listen to a story. You can also check out common sense media for parenting-related info on all things media.
For the younger set – up to 4 years old
- Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – 7 games that teach colors, letters, counting, shapes, sizes, matching, and differences.
- Duck Duck Moose – there are many different apps by this developer. They will take you beyond the ‘up to 4’ age range. Trucks teaches early math skill such as sequencing, sorting and problem-solving. Fish School – teaches letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Musical Me -teaches rhythm, notes, and pitch along with the fundamentals of music. Princess Fairy Tale Maker – will narrate the story with the self-record feature. ***Draw & Tell is for ages up to 9- kids can draw with crayons, paintbrushes, and colored pencils. The Tell feature along them to tell a story, move stickers as they talk and even create a movie. And there are more to choose from.
- Endless apps – there is Endless Alphabet, Endless Wordplay, Endless Reader, Endless numbers – these are great apps for letter and word building with rhymes and beginner math skills like sequences, quantity, patterns, and simple addition.
- Articulation Station – just as it sounds, this app works on pronunciation at the word, phrase, sentence and story levels. Practice with the assistance of an adult.
More for Fun
- Toca Nature – build nature – plant a tree, raise a mountain, collect berries and feed the animals. This will have your kids playing in nature and learning about the world as they play. There are more apps in the Toca series of apps to explore.
- Mr. Potato Head School Rush – an interactive story you control. See if you can keep Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head together or if you’ll lose all their parts.
- Wheels on the Bus – there are 12 games within this app that work on memory, letters, early math skills as well as fine motor, plus the classic song.
- Tongo Music – for kids – this app allows your child to try different instruments and play music. There are short stories about instruments with notes and audio samples to listen to.
Starting school – 4+
This category seems to be too big and even overwhelming. I think this is when parents start to say OK to technology entering their child’s life and developers have answered that call. I totally understand holding off till this age.
- Starfall or Starfall Learn to Read– letters, words, numbers, and math along with phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity. Aligns with Common Core Curriculum.
- Todo Math – a math game where kids collect prizes for daily math challenges.
- Todo Telling Time – a playful way for kids to learn all aspects of time telling along with calendars and daily scheduling concepts.
- Math Bingo – with 3 different levels (easy, medium, and hard) and 4 operations, (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication) you can test the whole family with this app.
- Teach Your Monster to Read – your child will create their own monster and take him on an adventure all while improving their reading skills.
- GoldieBlox Lite – The Rocket Cupcake Co. – introduce your kids to coding in this fun game of delivering cupcake in Bloxtown. There are 6 levels of coding and several games to play.
More For Fun
- Red Ball – a fun game to play. Roll your red ball through an obstacle course to reach your flag on each level.
- Magic Doodle: Movie Color & Draw – if your kids like to draw they will like this app. Many different effects on the pencil you draw with.
- Curious George – there are a few games within the Curious George world. I’d start with Trains – kids help George drive the train through an animated world where they need to help solve puzzles and avoid obstacles. Basic STEM concepts are introduced in this game.
- Emoji Blitz – you get to play as the emoji character. If your child loves emoji’s this is a fun game for them.
- Where’s my Water? – this is a puzzle-based game kids will love playing. Add in that they need to figure out the challenges of physics -getting water from one place to another and it adds up to fun.
- Tiny Robot Maker – make robots from scrap metal, cogs and pipes. Print them on greeting cards or coloring pages and create your own designs.
- Avokiddo Emotions – dress up, feed, play and care for some silly animals while your child learns about emotions in this playful funhouse.
Getting bigger – 6-8 yrs old
- Duolingo – this app personalizes learning a new language just for you. Track your progress and earn rewards. Practice reading, writing, speaking, listening and conversation with intelligent Chatbots. Over 30 Languages.
- Prodigy Math – a curriculum-based math game for grades 1-8. Awesome game for mastering math skills for each grade.
- News-O-Matic –choose from 5 news stories every weekday. Read about sports, science, world news, or wacky events. There’s audio support at word level or full story reads. Plus games, puzzles and fun facts.
- Stack the States – this app makes learning about all 50 states fun. You will learn state capital, shapes, geography, flags and more. As you earn more states – the prize for completing the game, you unlock 4 other bonus games – Map It, Pile Up, Puzzler and Capital Drop.
- Tinybop –
thereare many different apps to choose from by this developer. The Human Body – while learning about anatomy and biology kids see within the body at all the moving parts. Mammals – allows you to play with and see inside animals. Weather – make rain, snow or a thunderstorm and go inside them to see what makes them up. Space – learn about our solar system and planets and the moon. The Infinite Arcade – create your own arcade game from pinball games to mazes to adventure games.
- Winky Think Logic Puzzles – kids will play the games and be working on their reasoning skills, observation, and spatial capabilities. Ideal for Common Core Learning.
- Sushi Monster – a game to practice their math facts. Works on strategy with addition and multiplication when solving the problems given. Meets Common Core State Standards.
More for Fun
- Toca Builder – this is for the kids who love to build. They create their own world with blocks that come to life. Similar to Minecraft but for the younger kids.
- GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine – teaches animation with drawing tools, stamps, stickers, and photos. Kids can print their movies and play them in a real-life zoetrope as well as play with the GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine toy.
Getting up there – 9+
More for Fun
- Monument Valley – twist and drag to reshape the world and help Ida, the princess,
ex ploreand complete each level. Beautiful graphics.
- Minecraft – for the kid who loves to build and design the world around them.
- Move it – move the blocks up/down and right/left to get your red block out of the puzzle board. The game gets harder as you solve more puzzles.
- Art Stories WONDERS – there are 15 mini-games to challenge your skills while you visit the different wonders of the world.
Hexologic– this game has reinvented the rules of Sudoku. An easy to learn logic hexagon puzzle game.
- LEGO Life – this is a fun space for LEGO builders. Post your builds and see what others are building. There are challenges, digital building instructions, and videos to watch.
Games for fun
Don’t forget fun app games too. Here are some my family likes:
I’m not a fan of paying a lot of money for apps but some do cost a few dollars. I’m not a fan of bundling apps together either. I’d rather pick and choose which apps I download. I think the most expensive app on my list is
Podcasts can be a fun, generally short, listen. On some Podcasts, you learn things, and in others, you can just sit back and listen to the story. Here are some podcasts my family likes:
- Brains On! – science for kids
- Tumble – science podcast for kids
- Stories Podcast – children stories for the younger kids
- The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian -science fiction for kids of all ages
- What if World! – made up stories from what-if questions
- This Day in History Class – info about what happened on this day in history
- The Naked Scientist – Question of the Week – answers fun questions kids will love
Audible is the one app I pay for on a monthly basis. For us, the money is worth it. We listen to stories on audible while driving to various after-school activities as well as on road trips. I also like that I get 1 free story each month with my membership, plus 2 free Audible original stories. It’s really funny when we start a story on a weekend trip and my husband says “no listening without me!” We’ve listened to classics and well as new discoveries and old favorites that my kids could listen to over and over again. Take a look, see what you can find.
Movies on your computer or IPAD
We only have movies downloaded to our IPAD’s. The one thing that I discovered on our last trip was, to make sure within the airport, that your movie is downloaded and ready to go. I made the mistake of thinking everything was set since the girls had watched the movie before. On this particular device! Mistake! Thankfully our plane was delayed because it took over a half-hour for the movie to download again. But it saved me.
Equipment that’s good to have when traveling
As for equipment when traveling, I say batteries are your best friend. We have this extra battery pack. It charges more than 1 phone with a single charge plus it has a light built-in. It is a little bit heavier than the ‘slim’ charger but the battery life is well worth it. We use this on any trip we go on, like this trip to the White Mountain of New Hampshire.
My kids have a few different sets of headphones. Right now we are in the mode of using the apple earbuds. However, just like me, they get tired of them after a while. My older daughter received these headphones for her birthday. They are glamorous and fine for around the house but not very practical when traveling. These are my favorite kid’s headphones for traveling. The best feature I think is the nylon cord. I love it.
I hope these suggestions have inspired you to check out some new apps, stories,
What apps and podcasts are your favorites? Comment below.