Gone are the summer days when children were hurried out the door in play clothes while grasping a grubby basketball or wheeling a bicycle across the driveway and told, “Entertain yourself and don’t come back until the street lights come on!”
Perhaps some children still engage in such golden days, but many would rather stay indoors and watch television, rip up bad guys on video games and annoy their caregivers by repeating, “I’m bored,” 2,162 times per day.
But parents, don’t despair. Everyone knows the adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” and, in the case of each child seemingly born with a mobile phone attached to one palm, it is possible to do just that without turning cranial matter to mush.
Following are six phone apps that exercise your children’s muscles – or their brains – or maybe both.
Yoga for Kids by Home Fitness is free on Android phones through the Google Play Store. Easy to use and fun to do (even for you), this app gets your kids stretching and moving. For iPhone, Kids Yogaverse offers multiple apps, including I am Love, I am Sun, I am Moon and I am Energy, but these cost a few dollars or so.
A fun app for kids with vivid imaginations is Toontastic 3D, a simple-to-use program for designing characters, plotting and writing stories, animation, narration and mixing soundtracks. The app is available on iOS and Android, works offline, is easy to export, includes free downloads with no in-app purchases, and is accessible. Even you can figure out how to navigate it.
Mystery and Movement
The Walk is an Android and iPhone app meant for young teens and older who read well and are interested in a good mystery. You must walk in the real world to move in the game; by doing so, you traverse the United Kingdom while evading capture by the police and enemy agents – an adventure across 65 episodes, 800 minutes of audio and hundreds of miles of travel.
Walkr: Fitness Space Adventure is a simple, fun way to get your children (and maybe yourself) to pick up and set down their feet all day. Basically a galaxy adventure game combined with a pedometer, this app is good for all ages and is available on Android and iPhone. Your steps fuel a virtual rocket ship into the galaxy, and allow you to discover more than 50 planets, such as Octopus Cavern, and meet lost space creatures you help along the way.
Bring out the Sunshine
A must-have for school-age kids who love science, DIY Sun Science provides boredom-busting activities for both sunny and cloudy days. Available on iPhone and iPads with iOS 6.1.3 and above, and free to download, this app can entertain the whole family, too. There are “Any Day Activities,” which include exploring solar convection, a solar flare flip book, and how to detect solar storms, to name just a few.
Jump, Dance and Run
NFL Play 60 is an app apt to get your children active. Running, jumping, catching and dancing are all required to move your character in this game, available on iPhone and Android. Kids can count their steps, collect funky characters, pick a favorite NFL team, and strengthen their arms, legs and hearts with fun mini-games.