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Ah, the holidays. That magical time of year when offices and schools empty. Working parents earn a much-needed break. And mom and dad get long stretches of uninterrupted playtime with their little ones.
Long, long stretches of time.
OMG, the time.
Parents: Let’s cut through the latte foam. I love my two cute little clones. But there are moments when—how should I put it?—I pine for day when personal force fields will be as common as Legos. I don’t think I need to explain why.
But guess what? A similar technology exists. When I require a few quiet moments to read the Times, watch the tail end of the game, or collect what’s left of my thoughts, I pull out my big glowing HTC Titan and surrender it to the kids. They look so happy! Guilt barely registers.
Quieting the K-5 crowd can still be tricky; the right apps are key. Math drills and state capital quizzes don’t cut it in my house. So I polled some co-workers and came up with these 7 parent-tested pacifiers. No surprise: games dominate. But if you’re serious keeping the kids entertained and carving out moments of private bliss during the holidays, download these first.
The global gaming phenomenon and reigning king of kid-calming apps. Whether it’s my 7-year-old son—or 74-year-old dad—Angry Birds ($2.99) is guaranteed to preoccupy them until my phone battery runs dry. A must for any parental app arsenal and worth every penny. Download it
Who can resist toying with their very own tiger cub? Not my kids. Less a full-fledged game than a personal pet simulator, the goal of this addictive app is to stroke, tickle, play with, and train your cub. If you’re turned off by some of the mayhem in modern games, Kinectimals ($2.99) is a great alternative. Download it
You don’t have to leave the TV behind with the free Netflix app and a monthly streaming subscription (not a subscriber? Netflix has 1-month free trial). It’s my go-to app for long (“boring!”) holiday car rides and runs to the mall. Pink Panther, Phineas & Ferb, Curious George, Hello Kitty, Sponge Bob—these are just some of the shows in my kids’ Instant Watch list. Download it
It’s every kid’s (and parent’s) dream: license to endlessly whack, splash, and splatter fruit—minus the clean up. In Fruit Ninja ($2.99) the object is finger slice as much produce as you can while avoiding fizzing bombs. A concept so simple that even a toddler can do it—and why I love it so. Download it
Feeling guilty about all the games? Here’s one of the best free finger painting apps in Marketplace. Load pictures from your phone or the Internet and doodle on top of them—or start with a fresh canvas. Draw Free! comes with tons of brushes and effects. Another nice touch: The menus can be simplified and customized for babies, children, and grownups. Download it
In Bubble Birds (free) you lob birds at a packed flock trying to pop them, which happens any time you match three or more birds of the same colored feather. I love the slick jungle sound effects and eye-catching graphics. So do the kids. Download it
Plants vs Zombies
This humorous strategy game is another hit in my house—and guaranteed to settle things down. In Plants vs Zombies ($4.99), you defend your home from a mob of fun-loving zombies using an arsenal of a strategically-deployed death-dealing plants. Sometimes I even convince myself it’s teaching the kids critical-thinking skills. Download it
Would love it if they ramp up getting Angry Birds updated.....
would be nice if XIMAD would port over tic tac toe & bubble shooter(i only perfer it as bubble birds just looks silly)
Some great app stats for yesterday 12/07
Currently tracking 42603 apps worldwide, 42500 in the USA Marketplace. 5763 of them are inactive, 55% are available for FREE. Average price is $1.78.
204 apps are updated on average each day. In the last 24 hours, 165 apps were updated and 760 were added.
Stats courtesy of wp7applist... wp7applist.com/.../stats
Netflix during long car rides? Not in today's environment of limited data plans. My kids also love Angry Birds and PvZ.
@the_fly: In my minivan, long is any ride lasting more than 10 minutes. ;-)
@Michael Stroh - we have the same Minivan! =P Over Thanksgiving, we streamed Netflix most of the way from Tacoma to Richland - LOVE that service!!
Funny i had all these apps .. except for draw free, and bubble birds.. so i agree with your list 100%. I downloaded the two i didnt have..
This is related to apps....
Application notifications... I think we need a "Notifications Hub". Any notification would be available to view here. Sometimes notifications for apps disappear to quick to see what they are about or even what app they cam from. Weather alerts, updates, news articles, feeds or whatever should be available for us to look up even after they have disappeared form the top of the start and lock screen. Maybe a "history tab" and a "current" tab would do, with the option of being to set how long the history stores each notification.
Does anybody have a problem with missed notifications? Does this sound like something that is needed?
totally agree, my fave are all games with birds - both Angry and Bubble)
@Michael Stroh I hear ya. Netflix is a good babysitter. Keeps my kids occupied too.
Funny story. So tonight at dinner, I grabbed my wife's iPhone 4 to help her out on Words With Friends (a game I've been yakking on about needing to be ported to WP). So she has the free version that is littered with ads. What do I see at the bottom of the home screen? An ad for the Windows Phone Demo. Now I don't know if Zynga (the Words with Friends developers) sets up their own advertisement or if that was from Apple. I just found it funny that a game that has yet to make it to Windows Phone was advertising a Windows Phone.
I would like to share with all of you WindowsPhoneParent.com. Here are a few highlights:
Video review for a great holiday app: http://bit.ly/uRE7vR
Windows Phone Parent Draw Free! app review http:// bit.ly/sfjrAc
Many of our app reviews provide ideas for sharing special moments with your child, we call them WPParent Moments. Find more ideas for the holidays on our WPParent Moments page http://bitly.com/roQOrU
A little bit about me : I’m a mother of two, passionate about parenting, education and technology. Founded in November 2011, Windows Phone Parent is the one and only site dedicated to reviewing and promoting family-friendly Windows Phone 7 applications from a parent perspective. Don’t forget to stop by :)
Windows Phone Parent Draw Free! app review http://bit.ly/sfjrAc
Many of our app reviews provide ideas for sharing special moments with your child, we call them WPParent Moments.
Find more ideas for the holidays on our WPParent Moments page http://bitly.com/roQOrU
Thanks 4 info! Bubble Birds and Zombies are my favorite!!
Thanks for the article Michael. I was looking for some kid-friendly Apps for my daughter who is 5 and is becoming interested in using the phone. I think I'll try Kinectimals and the Draw Free. She gets a little too frustrated with Angry Birds sometimes, so those two apps look a little more her speed.
Keep up the good work!
Wow! Thanks for the recommendation! I was looking for some good apps for my nephew (7 years old). Another one he likes it ShakyPlanet, which is a free app for you to download certain holiday shaky globes only during a certain holiday season. Each one has music and animation when you shake it, like a cool digital snow globe! He gets so amused by shaking them. Oh God my goodness, now I’m even getting addicted to it. Gotta say it’s unique and creative! And they are so much fun to share via email or facebook with your friends.
Check it out: itunes.apple.com/us/app/shakyplanet/id311045690?mt=8
And also worth noting the 71 most raved apps on windows market
Mr. Stroh, when are you coming back to the podcast? Skip and Seitz miss you!
Draw Free is OK for drawing, but it has nothing on Color Sprouts (www.windowsphone.com/.../3d02a446-0a07-e011-9264-00237de2db9e)! My kids love it. Now there is a holiday version too! www.windowsphone.com/.../2fa33a20-959d-4b44-a8c5-70cba1af4bf0
Don't forget the great new Cartoon Avatar creating app called "MYDolls"
it's cute & fun!
after finally reciving my new dvp i tried the port of Bubble Birds & its not as accurate as the wp 6.x version
@punataro I agree, MYDolls is a great app, we actually made a special video "review" for this app, check it out: