Tech is pervasive in my own life, to be sure. But when it comes to my kids, I prefer good old fashioned books, conversation, or even staring out the window compared to the mindlessness of video games. However, there are exceptions to the rule – when the kids beg and beg to play with one of my devices and I cave. It usually involves waiting in a long line or when I need a moment to think. But if I’m going to hand over a smart phone or a tablet – even just for a few minutes, I want them to be doing something a tad more educational or productive than flinging a bird at some pigs.
Here’s my short list of favorite apps for kids tested by my discerning editorial team – my kids, of course. The full details are also listed below the video.
Stuff proven learning techniques into cute little games and you have MindSnacks. Your kids will thank you in seven different languages with math and geography games coming soon. Your kids can use MindSnacks to learn Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Portuguese and for SAT Vocabulary.
Kids can use Jittergram to make and share simple stop motion animations on an iPhone. Snap one image at a time and then play them back in rapid sequence. It’s creative and fun to watch things move around.
Topps Pennant Baseball
For the baseball obsessed, Topps Pennant serves up 60 years of Major League Baseball stats – endless trivia packed into one little app.
Move over Dr. Dre. The Figure app makes it easy for any kid to lay down killer beats. Hit pads to add drums, bass, and lead melodies.
National Parks by National Geographic
Whether you’re on your way to a National Park or just want to learn more about our home and native land, this National Parks app has gorgeous photography and an interactive guide to our 20 most visited parks.
Get an instant degree in astronomy with SkyView. Just point it up to the sky and this augmented reality app shows you exactly what you’re looking at – constellations, planets, and even nearby satellites.
Stack the States
Learning about the states has never been more fun than it is in Stack the States. Collect all 50 as you complete levels and learn locations, flags, shapes and more.
How Stuff Works
Direct those inquisitive kids to the How Stuff Works app. Inside, you’ll find 30,000 articles, podcasts and videos that all have the answers.
Your budding novelist will appreciate the Scribble Press iPad app with which they can write and illustrate their own masterpieces and then share them to a child safe gallery.
Tell the tutor to take a permanent vacation and instead let your kids browse thousands of videos on Khan Academy where they can learn everything from grade level math to modern art to the Greek debt crisis.
Setting boundaries around technology for kids is another ‘Twirl altogether, but at least you’ll feel better now when you get worn down and hand over your device for a few minutes.
Note: Most of the apps listed above are currently only available for download on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. Some are available through Windows 8. If you have an Android, keep checking Google Play to see if it’s available yet for download.
What are your favorite apps for kids? Let us know in the comment section below.