Summer holidays for kids should be all about fun, exploration and having adventures. When your children come to the back door with muddy knees, insect filled jam jars and grumbling tummies you know they are having a great time. But for some the school holidays seem an endless balancing schedule of trips and activities to ensure our children are well entertained and don’t utter the dreaded ‘I’m bored’.
Setting screen time boundaries at the start of the holidays will definitely help manage expectations. See how to manage screen time with TimeTokens – it’s the simple & fun pack that helps you manage your child’s time on screens. But even we agree that there are pockets of time where screen time does have it’s benefits: long airport delays, car journeys, end of the day zone out time (for them and us!). That’s why we – with the help of a selected group of Mini Morellos have compiled our top kids apps that have a fun and educational twist. So when you are enjoying that glass of rosé on a Tuscany Piazza in August you know you can buy yourself a romantic extra few minutes with your other half!
Here are our top picks for kids apps (in no particular order)
Chosen by Ella – age 15, Dublin
Welcome to the zen zone. This app is basically a mindfulness colouring book on your device. It’s excellent for kids and adults alike. Hailed as being ‘yoga for your mind’, it offers hundreds of colouring book images across a dozen categories. It is the perfect app to help your kids unwind and relax!
The basic package is free and there are dozens of free images to colour, however for even more access you can pay for an upgraded package.
Suitable for age 4-94
Chosen by Beatrix – age 8, Berkshire
Hit the Button Maths is a quick fire maths game designed to develop mental maths and calculation skills. It has varying levels of difficulty so it will grow as your child’s ability and confidence increases. The aim is to play minute long games where you answer as many questions as possible in the timeframe which creates a fun high energy way of learning.
The topics covered are times tables, division, square numbers, number bonds, doubling and halving. It develops quick mental arithmetic and the great thing is you can create player profiles which is an added plus. If your child needs a bit of help with maths or even if they just want to hone their skills we highly recommend this little number. Suitable for 5-11 year olds
Chosen by Sophie – age 10, Dublin
This award winning app is fantastic for kids to learn a new language in a fun engaging way. It is totally free and includes interactive mini games to test reading, writing and speaking skills.
It covers multiple languages from Spanish, French, German, Italian to Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Russian. In fact there are so many language available that you may need to fight for your phone by the end of the holidays! No wonder it was Apple’s choice for App of the Year 2017.
Suitable from age 5+
Chosen by Maia – age 7, Berkshire
It’s time to go on vacation! This is the latest and most clever app to come from the Toca series. Toca Life Vacation puts your child in the directors seat to make up their own stories. There are no rules or scripted scenes, it’s up to your child to decide the vacation plans of the characters.
Your child gets to interact with all stages of the vacation by moving objects and characters from one scene to another from the airport to the hotel (with some bed jumping!) or exploring the ocean. They feed and cloth the characters. It is so completely interactive, fun and great for imaginative play and story development. Also check out Toca Hair Salon, Toca Farm, Toca Life, Toca Lab.
Suitable for ages 6-8 (but can guarantee you’ll love it too!)
Chosen by Rachel (7), Hannah (10) & Emily (almost 12) – London
If you can imagine it you can create – anything goes from high rise towers to dingy dungeons. This is a multi platform virtual construction game which is all about building blocks and making your own adventures. You can build an entire cubic world with Minecraft. You can continually add and remove elements from your designs making it creative and unique.
From an educational point of view it explores shape, area, perimeter and volume and can be a historical tool to understand historic buildings (eg. constructing a replica building from a period in time).
Suitable for age 8+
Chosen by Emilia, age 4 – Berkshire
This little jam packed app gives spelling tests a whole new meaning. Suitable from early learning phonics right up to age 11. You can create profiles for up to 10 children (if you have that many!) and can assign tests to each profile. Whether you download stage appropriate tests from the app or you set your own is up to you. e.g if you have specific words your child needs to cover you can create a test and record an audio version of the word with your own voice.
For younger children you have the option to allow them to see the word briefly before spelling it. It has a great reward system whereby you collect squeeberangs and can trade stars for more sqeeberangs (of which there are 100). We’ll leave that for the kids to work out! Suitable for phones but possibly easier to navigate on tablets or ipads. Suitable age 4-11