The iMums wanted to share some of our Christmas and holiday themed app favorites with you. Below is a short summary of each of the apps along with links to our reviews as they have been completed. We hope that you will enjoy these apps as much as we have with our families. Many of these are ones we load onto our devices year after year to enjoy – and some stay on all year round! In our family, we pick a new holiday themed book to read every night – these are some of our digital favorites among The Mums. Come visit us at The iMums for more great tech and app reviews! Looking for more great app reviews – check out this page on Bluebee Pals. Reading with our kids is one of the favorite things to do with our iKids.
The iMums Christmas apps #1
Charlie Brown Christmas by Loud Crow Interactive is a real taste of nostalgia – featuring both the pictures and audio from the classic Christmas movie, with the addition of narration by Peter Robbins, who was the original voice of Charlie Brown. You can switch the narration on or off and the text is highlighted as it is read. The original music from the movie plays in the background and a nice feature is that you can control the music volume independently of the narration. Version 2.0 of the app added the director’s cut as a free in-app purchase. I would recommend installing this before starting to use the app as it adds 4 scenes, 2 activities and an extra carol. Read iMum Mary’s review
A Charlie Brown Christmas + iMessage Sticker Pack! – Loud Crow Interactive Inc.
The iMums Christmas apps #2
The Bernstein Bears and The Nutcracker by OceanHouse Media has been released just in time for the holidays. In this story Brother, Sister, and Honey open their presents on
Christmas morning. Among their presents is a Nutcracker Bear which Papa reminds them is from The Nutcracker ballet they saw on TV. At first, the cubs weren’t too interested in it, choosing instead to play with their new toys. It didn’t take very long for the cubs to get bored. With plenty of time before dinner, Papa suggests they entertain themselves by using their imagination. The cubs think this is a splendid idea and soon find themselves lost in the world of The Nutcracker. Read Fides review.
The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker – Oceanhouse Media
The iMums Christmas apps #3
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad- Little Critter by Oceanhouse Media, Little Critter attempts to make Christmas special for his Mom and Dad. He tries different things such as making cookies, picking out a Christmas tree, and wrapping presents, but each time the results are not quite what he was hoping for. Even though Little Critter messes up at everything he tries, you can’t help but fall in love with him. He is charming and funny as he explains what he did and what happened when he did it. My kid and I really enjoyed this story. Read our review.
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad – Little Critter – Oceanhouse Media
The iMums Christmas apps #4
Felt Board Christmas by Software Smoothie has become a quick favorite in out home this season. It is similar in every way to the original Felt Board but comes with a huge assortment of Christmas themed pieces such as the nativity, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, gingerbread cookies, snowmen, ornaments, and stockings. Read Fides review
Felt Board Christmas – Software Smoothie
The iMums Christmas apps #5
Santa’s Suit is Missing by Ginger Whale Apps is a story about Christmas Eve and it is snowing at the North Pole. It is your first day in Santa’s workshop, but all the work is done, the presents are packed, and the other elves are sleeping. You are feeling disappointed to have missed all the fun, when suddenly your Santa Phone beeps – Santa needs you!! Santa has lost his suit and needs a new one before he heads off to deliver the presents. You rush to the village to find him the perfect outfit. What will you get first ? Boots? A hat? A suit? There are lots to choose from, will you get him a traditional Santa outfit or something different? Maybe a ballerina outfit or an astronaut suit ? A Jester’s outfit or your own unique combination? Once you made your choices you take the suit back to Santa – but what will he think ? You’ll have to read Santa’s Suit is Missing story to find out. Read iMum Mary’s review
Santa’s Suit is Missing! – Ginger Whale Pty. Ltd.
The iMums Christmas apps #6
Tacky’s Christmas by OceanHouse Media is a seasonal offering in the popular Tacky the Penguin series of books written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, and brought to the app store by Oceanhouse Media. The story tells the tale of Christmas in Nice Icy Land. The penguins are busy choosing and wrapping gifts. Sadly, in Nice Icy Land Santa doesn’t visit (you may need to explain to your children why Tacky is pretending to be Santa), so Tacky has volunteered to dress up as Santa. The friends are also busy making Christmas ornaments and singing carols when they realise there are no trees to hang their ornaments on. Tacky volunteers to help out by being both Santa and the tree (at the same time). As usual with Tacky, things don’t quite go to plan, but he ends up saving the day and everyone has a Happy Christmas. Tacky is an odd bird, but a nice bird to have around – especially at Christmas. Read iMum Mary’s review
Tacky’s Christmas – Oceanhouse Media
The iMums Christmas apps #7
Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose is a virtual cookie shop without the mess! Do you enjoy decorating cookies with your family? Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose is a universal app where children make a recipe, bake and then decorate a virtual cookie with none of the mess associated with baking at home. The app features 24 , over 200 cookie cutters, photo cookie dough, and 85 different toppings. You can practice recipes with tasks like naming the various objects in the recipe, sifting, rolling, mixing and using cookie cutters to shape the cookies. The recipes can be used in real life to make cookies and help your child practice naming items, measuring, sequencing and fine motor skills. Read iMum Alison’s review
Cookie Doodle – Shoe the Goose
The iMums Christmas apps #8
Five Little Monkeys Christmas by Loeschware is a Christmas themed app featuring my favorite little Monkeys! The app features an an interactive counting game with a musical touch based upon the popular nursery rhyme. This app helps toddlers and preschoolers practice early literacy skills with word highlighting, repetition, addition and subtraction practicing early math skills and of course lots of fun. The app features three different musical scores including, “rock”, “country” and “pop”. This is perfect to work on counting, expressive and receptive language as well as a fun way to learn!
Five Little Monkeys Christmas HD – LoeschWare
The iMums Christmas apps #9
The Witch and the Christmas Spirit is by SlimCricket is a brand new app for iOS. The Witch is getting read for a Halloween adventure when her friend Peepo the Elf calls and says that a terrible illness has spread across the North Pole. He asks the Witch to come and help Save Christmas! Will they be able to? Enjoy this Free app with IAP that includes games, 3D pages and more!
The Witch and the Christmas Spirit – SlimCricket
The iMums Christmas apps #10
Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station is a leveled reading app containing 30 different Christmas stories. I loved sharing these Christmas stories with my sons and helping them read at the same time!
Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games – The Learning Station, LLC
This post was originally made on The iMums in 2015 at http://bit.ly/1IK2fRo. It is republished with permission.
What we love…
fantastic app that encourages parents and caregivers to read with children featuring a library of curated stories, conversation starters and bright colorful artwork. I loved that we were able to carry over and do activities after learning about them during our daily lives like stomping, slipping, sliding and being more observant
What we’d love to see…
parental lock of some sort on the cog wheel – there are no external links but my son liked to tap on it. I would also like to see a bigger parent’s resource section included – there are a number of resources on the web but not integrated within the app.
Beautifully illustrated app that encourages active reading via the story by asking questions, making observations and learning. Kids can also tie it to real life and role play the stories.
Art for “Light of Mine” (c) 2012 by Christopher Lyles
ReadAskChat is a curated library of stories designed for children from six months to age 4. The stories feature bright artwork, text and parental cues to help parents read with their children. I still remember the first time I sat in the rocker with my then infant son and held a black and white board book to read with him. I felt unprepared because I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to read with him or help him learn. You can read our interview with co-founders Alice and Carolyn to learn more about the reasons on why ReadAskChat was created. You can also read a paper about the science behind ReadAskChat. This app takes it beyond your device or tablet and encourages interactive reading using conversation starters to help kids engage and learn. Key concepts in the app include rhyming, patterning, early academics like colors, shapes, early sight words along with math and science concepts.
As I have gotten to be a mom of two – reading with my kids has gotten easier. They both know when it’s bedtime – we have 15-30 minutes depending on the day that we sit, snuggle and look at books. We practice things like how to hold the book, turning pages from front to back as well as moving with the text via songs, pointing to objects and just handling a book. In this digital age, it’s also important to consider that books are available on tablets, smartphones and other devices meaning that downtime doesn’t just have to mean that your child “plays” on your phone — you can turn it into educational time.
Here’s a snippet from Carolyn about the idea behind ReadAskChat
The inspiration for ReadAskChat comes from personal experience. My husband and I are adoptive parents, and when our daughter Jiji came home at 9 months, she was clinically failure to thrive. She couldn’t hold her little head up or babble, or reach for shiny objects—things that 9-month-olds should be doing. But after only one month of reading picture books, singing songs, playing and snuggling, and “chatting” about anything and everything, Jiji was a fully caught up and happy 10-month-old.
When we read using my tablet or smartphone – one of the first things I do is to turn on the “night shift mode” which changes colors to be more easy on your eyes and less stimulating for children. I also love that the app can change depending on which child I am reading with – meaning I can choose prompts for my toddler or my older son while reading the same story. When you open the app, there are three free stories that are included in the library. Additional stories are available for purchase. Each story includes “conversation starters” – these are based on the developmental level of your child and can range from suggesting you bounce your baby in time with the rhythm of the story or music to questions you can ask your kids to prompt them to engage more with the story.
Using your device, you login to the app to access the library. For purposes of the review I was given access to the full library of stories. When you use the app for the first time on your device or a new device you are prompted to download the stories. The Starter Pack includes, “Light of Mine”, “Animal Tails” and “The Old Man in the Tree”. In the subscription based version other stories are categorized by Big Ideas, Special Friends, Indoor Mischief, On The Move, Action Rhymes, Math Stories, Science Stories. You also choose the developmental level for the conversation starters. They range from baby (six to 18 months); toddler (12-24 months); preschooler (2 -4 years). As we have gotten more familiar with the stories we have recently changed from toddler to preschooler level to help him continue to follow along and be engaged.
My toddler aged son loves anything to do with cars and trucks and things that go. We typically let him pick a story and then I choose one. One of his favorites is Mario’s Trucks – which includes descriptive text like “Raise that Shovel! Dig that hole”. I typically read to him and then we talk about what we see in the photo – things like a yellow dump truck, a hard hat that Mario is wearing, a yellow digger and blocks and a crane. The conversation starters also encourage parents to add the sounds to the story and then the “ask” which encourages kids to think about what the truck does – my toddler answered carries and dumps. You are also prompted as you read to chat about what Mario might be building – my son said “tower”. We talked about it being a construction site on the first page. I also loved using the app to guide off-device play where we re-enacted specific stories that my son identified with. The illustrations in the app are beautiful and encourage kids to look and pay attention to details. The stories appeal to children and are not too overwhelming in terms of new information that is shared on a page. They also gently encourage sleep or relaxation at the end. At the end of the story you can either slide to the next story or close out of the app.
I loved the wide variety of content that was included in the app and that my son was engaged and learning from stories – which we could look at no matter where we were at a point in time. I actually found myself reading more with my son because I could pull out my iPhone or tablet while we were waiting for appointments or had short periods of downtime. He loved tapping on the screen to show me what he was seeing – and I liked hearing what he saw in the photos and engaged. Both of us became more engaged with stories – rather than him sitting in my lap passively to hear a story. In addition, I recently read to my son’s classroom and used ReadAskChat along with a software which was able to reflect my screen onto a whiteboard so that the group of kids could participate. Although the app is designed for more 1:1 or 1:2 use it was fun to use in a class because it encouraged open-ended conversations and allowed kids to really engage with the story. As kids get bigger you can encourage them to help swipe and actively pick out sight words, look at the images within the stories and pick out specific details or even find an object or color within the image.
With my son as we read the stories and he’s become more familiar – we now sometimes play “I spy” to see the details that we might have previously missed. One of the other things that I really enjoyed was the conversation starters to help me encourage my son to better engage with the story. Another feature I liked was the “swipe lock” which made it so my son couldn’t accidentally move forward beyond pages that I wanted him to be on. The app also lets you favorite stories using a heart at the bottom – my son quickly learned about this and we picked out his favorites and then we were able to scan for the hearts when picking a bedtime story. I also really liked the descriptive words used within the app to tell a story which tied to the picture. Words like “slip and glide” for my son were new – so we actually practiced them by sliding our feet on the rug.
In terms of enhancements – I would love to see a section for parents to understand more about reading with their children as well as the importance. I found a number of resources on the website for Readaskchat – but they were not referenced when we used the app. It would also be nice if the cog wheel at the top were parental gated – there are no external links but my son recognized this from other apps and wanted to touch it.
Overall, this is an app that is unique in that it actively encourages parents to teach their children while reading. My son loved sitting on my lap and engaging – rather than passively listening to a story. Since then I’ve noticed that when we read board books or bedtime stories he looks at the picture and we read and talk about them more – for example, find the green wall or white bunny rather than just reading the text as a more rote method of learning.
Pricing: Launch sale through December 25, 2017: Only $14.99 for the full library for one year.
LAUNCH SALE through December 25, 2017
$14.99/year (which comes to $1.25/month)
AFTER DECEMBER 25
$29.99/year (which comes to $2.50/month)
**Subscribers receive a new story pack (3 selections) bimonthly in 2018.
Note: Bulk rates are available for institutions.
NOTE: This app has in-app purchases
Introducing tech to your baby and toddler can mean different things to different people. I used several white noise apps with my son before he turned one, or would play music via my device for him. One he turned one and a half, we started letting him use apps for very short time periods (5-10 minutes) to try out apps on our device. It is important, especially with younger children to use guided access and to be present while they are using your device.
Guided access allows you to use a fingerprint or a passcode to temporarily restrict your iOS device to a single app, disable selected areas of the screen that are not relevant to what you are doing as well as disable hardware buttons like the sound switch and the home button.
Kid in Story Book Maker by Enuma, Inc. is designed to make it easy to create your own stories starring your child. The app includes 12 ready made templates for stories, plus you can add your own. It makes it easy to add photos of your child or other family members into the story. This can be a great way to help kids get familiar with new situations (daycare, life changes like a move or new addition to the family). When I travel, I usually make up a quick book to remind my children that “Mom always comes back”. Read our full review here……Kid in Story Book Maker
TOBY (Therapy Outcomes by You) Playpad by Autism West is designed for children under 7, who are not yet receiving specific interventions for Autism, or are in the early stages of therapy. It is a comprehensive Early Intervention Program designed for home use with children with Autism and includes both on and off iPad activities. Each day, TOBY suggests a list of activities to do, and this changes as the app adapts to the child’s progress. Read our full review here……TOBY Playpad – Autism West
Injini Child Development Game Suite by NCSoft was developed to help young children with with cognitive, language, and fine motor delays. It features 12 different games, each with many levels. It is best suited for toddlers and preschool aged children and is a very comprehensive app to help them with fine motor and language skills, understanding of cause and effect, spatial awareness, memory and visual processing. Read our full review here……..Injini Child Development Game Suite
Sago Mini Boats app by Sago Sago is a cute and fun game with a nautical theme, which is perfect for children 2 to 5 years old. Sago Mini apps never disappoint, this one is no different! Little ones get to choose from five boat adventures, pack their suitcase, choose their boat from eleven choices, and set off on their little adventure! On the high seas, they can pickup some treats, meet some interesting characters, go underwater and cruise along until they meet their best friend. This app encourages problem solving, creative play, language from your kids to describe what they are doing. Read our full review