Given the current state of things, I’m putting aside my usual concerns about screen-time limits for Mazzy and Harlow. During the shutdown, technology is making it possible for the kids to continue being educated from home, keep in touch with family and friends, find limitless ways to entertain themselves and books to read, and lastly, talk to parents who might be in quarantine themselves. Hello!!! Although, I do want to add that unequal access to technology is still a significant issue around the country, so not everyone has this same advantage.
Last week, I put together a complete list of online educational resources for kids to use during the quarantine, many of which are free or offering large discounts for families during this crisis. This week, I’d like to talk about all of the fun stuff.
FaceTime, Zoom, and Houseparty are giving us ways to continue working remotely, and our kids a way to talk to their grandparents and classmates. Virtual “playdates” are taking the place of playground meet-ups for the time being. I’ve been using Zoom and Facetime to have “happy hours” with my friends as well. In fact, I’ve talked to more people over the last week (college friends, high school friends, etc.) than I’ve talked to in the past ten years. Since I’ve been quarantined, I’ve also been using House Party to play games against Mazzy, like Disney Trivia.
Entertainment apps and online games are also serving a key role right now in keeping our kids busy while many of us continue to try to work from home. I’ve found that I have to be more on top of my kids when they are supposed to be learning online, but if they start playing a game or watching a show, that’s a way better babysitter.
I thought it would be useful to compile a list of entertainment apps and online games for kids. Both for myself and for you guys! Some games might also be educational, but my main requirement when I made the list was for them to be engaging and fun. Older kids and teens will obviously be using apps and games as well, but at that age, they already know what games they like, and know how to connect with their friends. My focus here is on younger kids.
I hope you find it helpful!
Apps to keep kids connected:
Zoom (Free for group hangouts under 40 minutes; unlimited 1:1 hangout time)
WhatsApp (Free video calls using your phone’s internet connection)
Houseparty (Face to face social network, with built-in multi-player games like trivia and pictionary)
FaceTime (Free on Apple)
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch the same movie or show alongside your friends, with a chat option. (My family is going to try it during my quarantine!)
Apps/Games for Toddlers and Young Preschoolers:
Apps/Games for Older Preschool and Kindergarteners:
Toca Life Play in your own kid-friendly interactive world with Toca Boca characters and different environments like hotels, restaurants, ski resorts, etc. (both Mazzy and Harlow have been playing this for years and still love it)
Apps/Games for Early Elementary School Aged Kids:
Teach Your Monster to Read (Computer version is free)
Adventure Academy (Monthly subscription fee; first month free offer is available) “Gaming meets school” according to USA Today
ABC YA (Free and paid options) Fun games that also let kids practice math and reading skills
Kodable ($120 for lifetime membership) Programming app for kids
Code Monkey ($9.95 for monthly plan) Coding for Kids
Art for Kids Hub New art lessons uploaded M-F on YouTube
Audible (Free for kids while schools are closed)
Highlights Kids (Free) Games based off of the popular kids magazine
Family Style Co-op Kitchen Fun interactive cooking game that you play with 2-8 players using different devices but working as one team to complete as many meals as possible (Mazzy and I have been playing a lot while I am in quarantine.)
Please let me know if you have any other options that you would recommend, so that I can continue adding to the list!