As I write this, my family is prepping for a trip to Austin next week for a dear friend’s wedding. This will be the second time I have flown with my now 15-month old son. The first time was when he was 8 months old, and still nursing, so I had on my person the best, most foolproof method of calming him down should he not take to air travel. And it worked wonderfully. This trip, however, is starting to give me a bit of anxiety, as he is now weaned, and much more independent, strong willed, and easily meltdown-able.
Along with his favorite books, an army’s worth of snacks, and his beloved lovey BunBun, I am also amassing a large number of new Apps for my iPhone to keep him occupied and amused on the plane. I haven’t shown him any of them yet, so they will all be new and fun experiences when we really need them. I am not sure if they will cover four hours’ worth of fun, but here’s hoping it will get us most of the way to Texas. Or at least through security.
Here are some of the best apps I have stumbled upon. Keep in mind these are geared towards toddlers and made for iPhones. If you have great app suggestions for older kids or other platforms, let us know!
Bebot (Normalware, $1.99)
Great fun for any age. A cute robot stands on a stage. When you touch the screen he sings. You control his voice by moving your finger around the screen, to hilarious effects. There are several settings to change the type of voice he has. So simple but good silly fun.
Interactive Alphabet (Piikea St., $2.99)
A really well done alphabet app. The main screen is the alphabet and when an individual letter is touched, it takes you to a cute animated screen with the letter’s word. Lots of cute little easter eggs in this one, not all the letters are set up the same, so it doesn’t get boring. Also has a baby mode which is simpler, it automatically goes through the letters in order without them having to select one. Nice touch.
Pat The Bunny (Random House Digital, $3.99)
A little pricey by most app standards, but I had to get this one. My son loves the book so I know he’ll enjoy the familiar illustrations. This is actually two apps in one. There’s a “read” mode which goes through the familiar book (with some additional content). One of the most clever parts is “Judy can look in the mirror – now YOU look in the mirror” – which does some kind of magic trick with the camera in the phone so your little one sees himself in the mirror in real time within the app. So cool! The other part is a “paint” mode which allows the child to color in the illustrations. You can also record your own voice reading the book.
Color Dots / Color Squares (Ellie’s Games, $0.99)
I first purchased Color Dots and was so taken with it I immediately got Color Squares, by the same company. This is a very, very simple game that was clearly developed by a parent of a toddler. Both involve touching the screen to make big, brightly colored shapes appear and multiply. That’s it. You can adjust the speed and sounds, too. Once you start the app there is no way to get out of it unless you turn off the phone, which is actually a really nice “babyproofing” touch. It’s also completely playable without any sound, which I know will be a lifesaver in certain circumstances.
Itsy Bitsy Spider (Duck Duck Moose, $1.99)
Another touch-and-something-happens animation app. This one is really fun and the operatic man singing the song’s lyrics cracks me up. I have had this app for weeks and I am still discovering new things to touch and do with it. There is also some smartly added educational content – the little fly gives out facts about the animals and objects on the screen.
My First Words – Flashcards (Alligator Apps, Free)
The free version gives you a few of the categories, the full version is $0.99. A nicely done flashcard app with color photographs and a voiceover reading each word. You can add your own photos with your voice reading the word, which is great fun. I’ve added family pictures and objects around our house so our son will see things he recognizes between the stock photography.
Peekaboo Barn (Night & Day Studios, $1.99)
A very cutely illustrated peek-a-boo app that reveals animals when the screen is touched. You can select cute kid’s voices naming the animals, or adults in English or Spanish, or record your own.
The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street, $3.99)
I fully admit this was a sentimental purchase. My mother read me this book (originally published in 1971) and it is still one of my most beloved stories. This app is really a mini-movie, bringing the story to life. It is incredibly well illustrated and animated, and very true to the original book. My favorite part is that on each screen if you don’t do anything, Grover eggs you on, slightly impatiently.