Digital diversions for kids to help keep your holidays happy (and sane)
11/20/2013 06:45:22 AM EST
macys.com/parade/?cm_mmc=VanityUrl-_-parade-_-n-_-n#/games/memory" target="_blank">Match It. The games are better suited for younger kids (but older ones might appreciate learning about the parade's history).
Kids can be a bit insufferable during the holiday season — repeatedly asking “Are we there yet?” on the drive to Grandma's or whining about boredom while you frantically bake and clean in preparation of a hoard of hungry dinner guests.
But who can blame them? The anticipation of playing with cousins and loading up on pumpkin pie (and more importantly, whipped cream) is enough to make us all a little giddy.
Instead of sticking your head in the oven, arm yourself with some digital entertainment that will occupy them and buy yourself a few more minutes of prep time or road trip peace.
Here are five apps and sites to check out:
1. Step off: The good folks of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (9 a.m. EST on NBC) offer up three parade-related games on their site, which can be played while your kids keep an eye out for the Snoopy Balloon and old Kris Kringle himself. Re-create iconic parade pictures in Parade Puzzler, help Frieda the inflatable wiener dog collect balloons in The Great Parade Dash or match parade balloons on
2. Spot states: The License Plate Game – arguably the gold standard of road trip distractions — gets a high-tech update. On the free iOS version, players simply tap on the image of the license plate they've spotted. The game remembers when and where you found it. You can also snap pictures of unusual plates for each state, as well as plates from other countries. In the License Plate Game for Android (free), players compete against one another to see who can spot the most number of different plates. Similar apps are available for $1.49 on Windows Phone and free on BlackBerry.
3. Talk turkey: If your vision of the perfect, stress-free holiday road trip does not involve your kids gobbling like turkeys from the backseat, then you might want to skip downloading this app. But, if you're looking for some family-friendly and festive ways to interact with your kids on the drive to grandma's, well then why not find out who among you can cackle, cluck or cutt the best? Listen to a variety of turkey calls, learn when and why each is used and then see how you measure up. Available for free on iOS and Android, $1.49 on Windows Phone and $2.99 on BlackBerry.
4. Branch out: All that togetherness over the fall and winter holidays offers the perfect opportunity for families to trace back their roots. Encourage your kids to talk to older relatives and distant cousins by having them build your family tree using the Ancestry.com app. If you aren't already using the site, you can easily start a new tree on the free app, then develop different branches by adding ancestors, photos, dates, notes and more. The iOS version was upgraded in September and now offers the ability to connect through Facebook, as well as to create shareable story-like narratives about your ancestors. Its perfect fodder for dinner conversation.
5. Give thanks: Entertain your little ones while helping them understand the meaning of Thanksgiving with “The Berenstain Bears Give Thinks” digital storybook. Follow as Brother and Sister Bear stage their first Thanksgiving with costumes, props and a feast fit for a bear clan. The sweet story reinforces the importance of family and the reason for the season. Children can listen to the story as its narrated to them with words highlighted, read the story in traditional form or use the auto-play function, which works like a movie. Available for $3.99 for Android and iOS.
By the time your kids have mastered their turkey calls and filled out the family tree, you'll be pulling up to Grandma's or putting the finishing touches on your famous sweet potato casserole and you'll all be ready to count your blessings.