Great Holiday Apps & Screen Time

While I would always encourage reaching for a book first, sometimes screen time can be educational and entertaining.  I’m also realistic – my children have been born into an age where screen time is part of their life and like it or fear it, books need to move over and make space for the newcomers on the block. It’s all about balance and if you’re worried about how much screen time to allow, here’s a great app that controls screen time.  You may have read the Steve Jobs article on how he limited screen time for his own children.  I think the key word is limit.  Not ban or rule out.

So in this spirit, here’s a roundup of some great apps we’ve found. Let us know what you think.

The Nutcracker and the Disappearing Cheese


Ages 5 and under

Just in time for the festive season, this app is more than a collection of educational games – it’s a fantasy trip where children get to listen to Tchaikovsky’s music and the famous ballet story, and enter the mansion where they can play dress up, bake, drive a train, decorate a Christmas tree, and more. The seven educational games include counting (1-20), writing, memory, maze and matching and sorting games. There are no ads or in app purchases.



Ages 6-10

There’s currently a huge trend to teach children computer programming – it’s even on the UK national curriculum from age 5+. It makes sense that apps that follow the trend will be big hits and CodeQuest aims to teach coding through a mixture of fun, games and great storytelling. Your kids will learn how to create and style their very own website on basic HTML and CSS.   It’s the way of the future and for now, the app is free.

Telestory (iPhone and iPad)


Age 8-12

Inspire your kid’s story telling with Telestory – an app that lets you create your own TV show. You Tube is a hit with all ages, and this App allows kids to make their own mini TV story by choosing from one of more than 30 scenes and 50 digital costumes. Press record and the fun begins. Shows can be shared by posting on Toon Tube. Check out Toontastic for a similar app.

Apps bundles

With Apple’s new iOS 8 software comes a great deal – the App bundle – a collection of Apps from one developer at a discounted price.

We love the Toca Starter Box consisting of Toca Hair Salon 2 (an absolute winner), Toca Pet Doctor, Toca House, Toca Kitchen, Toca Band and Toca Store. Ages 2-8. The Toca Boca games offer pure fun – no-one wins and there are no rules. It’s one of the fastest growing kid’s apps and you don’t have to worry about any negative undertones.


Sago Mini Amazing Eight This is Toca Boca’s pre-school version with lovely creative apps including Sago Mini Friends, Sago Mini Space Explorer, Sago Mini Music Box, Sago Mini Doodlecast, Sago Mini Bug Builder, Sago Mini Forest Flyer, Sago Mini Pet Cafe and Sago Mini Sound Box. Sago is the perfect toddler’s beginner app from age 2+.

Artgig Math Mysteries and Mazes Look out for Artgig’s award winning apps, which make math’s both mysterious and adventurous. Includes Mystery Math Tower, Mystery Math Museum, Marble Math and Marble Math Junior. Age 4+

Montessori Maths By Trois Elles Designed by Montessori teachers, these apps are brilliant because they help explain the concepts before applying them. Includes Montessori 1st Operations, Montessori Numberland HD, Montessori Geometry, Montessori Maths: Add & Subtract Large Numbers and Montessori Maths: Multiplication. Although for younger ages, if your older children are battling these may help set them straight and see that maths is everywhere and it can be fun! Age 4+

Spinlight Beginners: This is a great starter pack covering letters, reading and writing. Fun and easy to play. Includes Alphatots Alphabet, TallyTots Counting, Swapsies Jobs, Gappy Learns Writing and Gappy Learns Reading and Swapsies Sports. Age 4+

Marvel Reads Super Heroes If your children need their super hero quota, this is one of several Disney bundles focusing on favourite superheroes: The Amazing Spider Man, Avengers Origins: Hulk, Spider Man AR Book HD and Avengers Origins: Assemble.

La Luna: The Story Project

iPad app


This beautiful app from Disney Pixar has been on the market this year – if you missed it buy it now. La Luna is the story of a young boy who travels with his father and grandfather in a rowing boat to the moon to sweep up all the fallen stars. Told in a rich water-coloured storybook format it’s mildly interactive and aimed at ages 9 -11. For those interested in how apps are formed there’s a behind the scenes peek too.


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