Looking for some amazing ways to share screen time with your kids? Here is a quick guide to some great apps to enjoy together.
Toddler: Nighty Night! HD
One of the most downloaded bedtime apps, this charming and, perhaps more importantly for parents, completely soothing app, is a great way to get kids prepped for shut eye. A blend of story telling, interactivity and animation sets the scene where kids turn off lights throughout a farm setting, putting animals to bed one by one. The overall concept, of dimming areas one at a time, is a great way to reinforce the nighttime concept before the entire app fades to black.
Grade School, Tweens & Teens: 94%
Similar to Family Feud, 94% asks basic questions (What’s the first thing people do in the morning?) and challenges users to come up with the most common surveyed answers. It’s free with in-app purchases for hints. Keep in mind it comes with lots of annoying ads, but there is some serious fun to be had here.
Grade School, Tweens & Teens: FingerPaint Duel
Drawing as competitive sport? Sure. For those times when you’d rather your kid engage in a less solitary form of screen time, FingerPaint Duel is designed in such a way as to entertain both kids and adults. The concept is simple: The app splits the screen in half, giving both players a blank canvas in which to draw (and color in! Just outlining won’t generate a score) the same object. Winning points go to the most accurate creation made most quickly. But here’s the great hook: The game auto-adjusts for difficulty if one player is consistently winning to even out the playing field.
Tweens, Teens: KAMI
Beautifully created, with clever folding-paper sound effects to match, this puzzle game doesn’t come with instructions. But, hint, here’s all you need to know: The goal is to turn the entire screen into the same color with a given number of steps by touching papers and letting them unfold. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s seriously fun while challenging sequential and spatial problem solving.
Grade School: Project Noah
Backed by National Geographic, Project Noah is mobilizing a new generation of nature explorers and helping people from around the world appreciate their local wildlife. The app lets kids upload their own photos and observations of nature around them, no matter where they live. Photos can be submitted independently, or kids can join missions to submit specific requested photos and help to document species. Kids can document those backyard squirrels, crows and grasshoppers as well as sightings found in non-urban settings. Great for nature hikes.
Grade School: Lego Movie Maker
Want to take Legos to the next level? Parents and kids create their own stop-motion movies with the intuitively designed app geared towards Lego lovers. Choose graphics, title tracks and sound tracks, then use the app’s camera to capture Lego figures in action. Put it all together and you’ve got a film all your own.
Tweens & Teens: Heads Up!
This became a huge hit and it’s easy to see why. This game is so insanely fun and can easily be played with older kids (although some categories, such as Academy Award Winners, won’t apply). Some dexterity is required to get the hang of it if you’re the one guessing.
Tweens & Teens: Word Bubbles
This game is so immediately engaging. You swipe and connect letters to find hidden words. It gets harder and harder as you go and is best played together. So much fun! Free with in app purchases to buy hints (which you’ll probably need at a certain point).
Here’s everything you need to make top-notch at-home movies that have a professional feel. With eight themes (including fairytales, horror movies and family flicks), each comes with titles, transitions and soundtracks that carry that concept through. Use your own videos and photos, write your own credits and title tracks, record your own voice-over — this app gives you all the tools needed to become a budding Spielberg in your own right. (Parents of younger kids can try Video Star.)