This isn’t a “walk into a bar” joke — well, unless the brothers are a priest and a rabbi — but in this case, they aren’t. No, this is about some amazing apps my husband (the amazing daddy) has found for his iPhone. Apps that aren’t what I’d classify as glassy-eyed, slack-jawed screen time. These are apps that are about spending time with Daddy and bringing fun, creativity and learning into their world.
Hollywood is calling
The first batch of apps and ideas are all about creating movies using the iPhone. Who would think my husband’s phone would be responsible for the boys running, jumping, screaming … being rolled around inside a cardboard box?!?!
This app allows kids to create stop-motion movies, then add effects and music. It takes their imaginative play they are already doing with their LEGO creations and takes it up a notch. They are still a little young for all of the functionality, so Daddy is very hands-on with the iPhone while the boys setup their LEGOs. (Free)
Where LEGO Superhero makes them the director, Action FX makes them the star. This app takes a video and overlays disaster-type special effects. The boys select what awful disaster is going to be featured — rock slide, helicopter crash, tornado, etc. — and then Daddy directs them as to where to look, when to scream and where to run. The finished product is hilarious. (Free, but additional effects can be purchased)
Video and photography
The basic video and photo features of your phone can be a lot of fun for kids. Giving them the control to record their perspective of an event or activity gives them a different way to express themselves, as well as demonstrates to them you are confident in letting them do such a “grown-up” activity. The bonus is you end up with a lot of hilarious — and even insightful — movies and photographs.
(This is where rolling around inside a cardboard box comes into play. Taking the phone with them, the boys climb inside one of the large boxes we kept from the move. They start recording video and then Daddy rolls the cardboard box from one end of the living room to the other. Inside the boys are bounced around, knocked together, flipped butt over tea kettle and laughing off their fool heads the entire time. And it’s all captured on video from their perspective. That’s some Oscar-worthy moments right there.)
Harvard is calling
Brain Pop Jr.
Brain Pop Jr. features a new video every week for kids K-3. Past topics have included “Listening & Speaking,” “Counting,” “The Statue of Liberty,” “Frogs,” and “Our Solar System.” After the video, there is an easy and a hard quiz, as well as jokes and comic strips associated with that week’s theme. The boys cuddle up next to Daddy, watch the video and then take turns answering the questions. (Free, but you can purchase a subscription for full catalog access)
For the older kid, this app’s movies cover topics a little more complex than the Brain Pop Jr.; and, they update daily, as opposed to Jr.’s weekly update. The boys still watch them with Daddy because the topics have been so interesting: “Hurricanes,” “Women’s Suffrage,” “Gravity,” “Shark Attacks,” “Flight,” “Constellations” and “Political Parties.” When it comes time for the quizzes though, Daddy is generally the one answering the questions. (Free, but you can purchase a subscription for full catalog access)
Our boys love to build “creations” out of LEGOs, but they also love to follow directions to create something specific. LEGO kits can get expensive, so the LEGO Instructions app is perfect for those times they want a LEGO project. Created by fans of LEGOs, this app offers an extensive menu and step-by-step directions for building things like robots, trucks and moon buggies. (Free)
This really isn’t something for the boys to play with, but it has provided the soundtrack for many LEGO-building marathons. A favorite is The Fresh Beat Band channel, although the frequent inclusion of Alvin & Chipmunks has thrilled the boys while nearly driven my husband to the brink of insanity. (Free)
I’m busy. Play with this.
The apps I listed above are those we do with the boys; but, let’s be realitistic, Mommy likes to shower every morning. Following are some of the boys’ favorite iPhone apps they play by themselves.
- Highlights for Children Hidden Pictures
- Weet Woo
- Monster Mouth
- Shape Builder
- Connect Dots
- Where’s My Water?
Do you and your kids have any favorite apps? (And thanks to my good friend Tracey. We recently “chatted” about how we love to watch the goofy fun our boys have with their Dads. It inspired me to share this list.)