Online fun for the little ones over summer’s long run
It’s going to be a long summer! Here are some online resources for kids to fill those endless days.
Summer! What a wonderful time of year when you are school age! The days stretch out endlessly, full of family trips and stops for ice cream.
There is freedom from the constraints of a strict bedtime and so much time for mucking around and fun.
That being said, sometimes it can be hard to think of what to do next!
Here are some online destinations and apps that will keep your kids entertained while still stimulating their creativity, their learning and their health.
Online games site Funbrain has dozens of games categorised from Kindergarten to Year 8 level.
These include simple click and drag counting games, international trivia games, activities designed to help with spelling and even books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid that can be accessed and read online.
The basic, clear interface and not so obviously educational themes of the games within the Funbrain website provide an entertaining way for kids of all ages to keep themselves amused.
If a trip to the zoo isn’t on the agenda these school holidays, kids can take a trip through the jungle alongside thousands of other players from around the world.
Users are invited to select and customise their animal avatar before following a very enthusiastic bunny on a journey of discovery, parties, shopping and adventures.
While playing, kids collect fun facts, learn about animal conservation and hear facts from scientists and marine biologists.
Being committed to online safety and privacy, Animal Jam reminds kids not to use their real name online and has a code of conduct that includes using kind words and never giving out personal information.
Another online game for kids, Moshi Monster is a virtual version of the nineties pet-in-your-pocket, Tamagotchi.
Players ‘adopt’ a Moshi Monster, growing them in a garden and being reminded to socialise them.
The platform encourages kids to play games and solve puzzles in order to earn virtual rewards called ‘Rox’.
Players can play free or purchase a membership that allows for extra features.
The creators behind Moshi Monsters are careful to restrict social networking features only to approved friends and family and monitors the chat boards to filter out inappropriate content.
Out and about
This global phenomenon mixes the internet with an international treasure hunt.
‘Cachers’ have to set out into the real world of their local area, using map coordinates and GPS to find treasures hidden by other players.
The rules of Geocaching dictate that you can’t take a treasure (usually a small box filled with trinkets and explanations of why they are special) without placing one of your own.
The give / take philosophy also encourages children to write about their experience online via the Geocaching website or iOS / Android apps.
There are millions of Geocaches hidden in parks, bushland and suburban streets all around the world, meaning it can be an excellent activity if you are away somewhere new on holidays.
We couldn’t talk about online entertainment for kids without including this one!
Fun for all ages, Pokémon encourages interactivity with the outside world, requiring players to seek out locations to top up with Poké Balls (which are used to trap Pokémon).
Once you have a good supply of Poké Balls, you can use them to capture the Pokémon that appear at random around the landscape.
Popular spots like parks and shopping strips have more Pokémon and also host virtual battle zones / gyms where kids can pitch their collection against other ‘monsters’.
The game also encourages physical activity by providing eggs that can only be ‘hatched’ after you walk a certain distance with the app open.
If you have managed to avoid this craze all year, well done… but there’s no denying that many kids love it and it is a fun activity to engage in with them.
If you played it earlier and lost interest it is worth noting that different Pokémon lurk in different areas, so you might be able to add to your collection if you are on the road.
In the kitchen
Great British Chefs Kids
School holidays are the perfect time to interest your children in cooking and this app is a fun way to get them started.
There are over 100 recipes and shopping lists, all designed to introduce children to preparing and cooking dishes in the kitchen.
How-to videos give simple instructions and the app includes nutritional information for parents to refer to.
Your children can learn how to bake British favourites like bubble and squeak, as well as treats like pizza and ice cream.
Super Yoga Bedtime
Getting kids to wind down at the end of an exciting day can be a challenge, especially when they are not in their usual routine.
This app is designed to keep children engaged as they relax for bedtime, with a superhero theme that appeals to different age groups.
The more kids use the combination of yoga sequences, guided visualisations and breathing exercises on Super Yoga Bedtime, the faster they will receive special superhero badges that mark their progress.
Cost: $2.99. Download for iOS
There is no end to the online entertainment available for children.
Most are carefully designed with safety in mind, however if you are concerned there are websites you can check out such as commonsensemedia.org that provide reviews on the suitability and security of apps and websites.
If you want to keep the fun (and learning) going over the school holidays, you can always check out these educational apps and for games kids.