My criteria for a good road trip app: keep ’em busy for a long time. Our family takes road trip vacations — Florida panhandle this year — so summer vacation means hours in the car (like 24!) so I need a tool kit filled with books, music, movies, apps, conversation, and food to keep the girls occupied.The apps on this road trip list fit the bill. They’re “sticky,” meaning kids will want to keep playing them. Not all are explicitly educational, but all are fun.
Grimm’s Interactive Pop-up Books by Story Toys — Though these are pricey, they are my preschooler’s favorite go-to app. She loves the stories and the interaction. They’re quite well-done. Available stories include Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and The Jungle Book. They are almost $5 each (I caught several of them for free via the free app of the day) so you’ll want to choose selectively. (used mostly by preschooler)
Toca Tailor — Dress-up, paper dolls, fashion design in preschool-friendly app. (enjoyed by both girls)
My Story World — This subscription-based storybook app is mostly geared to preschoolers, but my second grader enjoys the stories, too. For $5.99, you get a subscription to all of the available stories — fairy tales, Elmer stories, princess stories, more. New stories are added every week. Definitely read The Glass Castle — a favorite here! (enjoyed by both girls)
Let’s Create — We all love this app! You create your own pottery or complete “customer” orders, then fire it and decorate it. You can sell it at fake auctions and earn money to buy more designs and paints. Seriously fun. (fun for ALL!)
Mystery Math Town — Kids explore a quirky, sort of spooky house, and have to answer math problems to open doors and windows to further explore. (elementary)
Wild Kratts Creature Math — My review isn’t published on this one yet, but it is a great well-rounded app teaching math and ecology. Kids complete math problems while managing a whole ecosystem — keeping the animal’s and environment’s needs in balance. I enjoyed playing this one, too. (elementary)
Dinorama — I’ve written about this one before. Great road trip project. (elementary)