iPhone Life magazine

5 Great Apps to Keep Kids Busy this Summer

Summer vacation is coming, and you know what that means...? ROAD TRIPS!

But anyone who’s been on a car trip with kids knows they'll need more than snacks and silly songs to keep children occupied for those long miles. Otherwise, they’ll drive everyone nuts with endless requests to use the restroom and complaints that the last round of Punch Buggy got a little too rough.

In an effort to help parents of the world cope, I’ve gathered a few apps for them to whip out when times get tough. You’ll never have to say, “stop the fighting or I’ll turn this car around!” again! You know you don’t really mean it anyway.

I don’t have any kids myself, so I’ve asked a few friends to put these apps to the test for me. The kids in question range in age from 3-8 years old and the apps were handed to them when they were feeling bored and antsy (a.k.a. being annoying). So this is obviously a very scientific study.

1. Ride a Pony with Kate and Harry ($1.99)

In this game, kids get two characters to choose from, Kate or Harry, who they send on a horseback journey through a fairy tale land. Before they start, they get to dress one of several different colored ponies, choosing from differently styled manes and assorted accessories. Basically, they make sure Kate and Harry have the fanciest ponies ever. This game kept a 3-year-old girl occupied for about a half an hour and the little dude liked it for about ten minutes. The older kids lost interest after about two minutes. There’s no text or buttons to confused little ones, so this is a great app for pre-readers.

2. Toca Tailor Fairy Tales (Free)

This app is very nicely designed, and it keeps kids of all ages occupied for a while! Kids can choose either a boy or a girl to dress in a wide variety of mix-and-match colors, prints, and fabrics to create a tremendous array of outfits. Kids can even make their own pattern by snapping a photo of something around them. Once the character is dressed, the child can take a picture of it standing against any backdrop they choose, even the back of the car seat. Mom’s hair makes a cool-looking jungle! 

3. Talking Gugl (Free)

You know those apps that have a silly character you talk to who then repeats everything you say in a funny voice? And you can poke, tickle, and punch him in the nose and it’s way more fun than it should be? This is one of those, and it works just like the others do. This one also lets you create a movie message with Gugl as your star to share via email or Facebook. None of the kids I know have Facebook or email yet, but the option to share is there. Gugl kept all the kids entertained and actually started a few fights for control.

4. Tap Tap Ants (Free)

Remember when you were a kid and you thought it would be great fun to smoosh as many ants as you could? But of course you didn’t do that because your mom wouldn’t let you. Now there’s a way for kids to smoosh away without disrespecting nature’s creatures! This game keeps both kids and adults busy as they try to smash all the ants before they reach the tasty picnic food at the other end of the table. But be careful! Don’t smash the bees! They sting!

5. Skylanders Cloud Patrol ($1.99)

Join the battle to defeat the trolls! Don’t worry if your kids aren’t familiar with Skylanders. Cloud Patrol is easy to learn and enjoyable for both Skylander devotees and newbies alike! But if your kids are into it, there’s full support for their existing Skylander collection—just unlock any of the 30 figures they already own and go kick some troll butt! This game was a hit with the older kids. It kept them engaged for hours—far longer than any of their parents ever guessed it would. It’s rated for ages 9+ and is a bit tough for little ones. They can still play, but they don’t have full appreciation of it.

If you notice, none of these apps have any educational value whatsoever. I did that on purpose because it’s summer vacation, duh!

Want to master your iPhone and iPad? Sign up here to get our tip of the day delivered right to your inbox.
Email icon
Want more? Get our weekly newsletter:
Adam Harvey's picture
While most kids were playing with Transformers and Stretch Armstrong, Harvey was coding on his first computer. And he's never looked back. Harvey helped develop some of the Internet's very first websites. He was an information technology director in the corporate world before bringing his technical expertise to GLAD WORKS in 1999. With a background in systems architecture, database development, programming, e-commerce, search engine optimization, social media, mobile development and all things technical, Harvey keeps GLAD WORKS at the forefront of the e-Industrial Revolution