Today’s post is a guest post written by Matthew McDonnell, a former educator and “local” boy from Clark’s Summit just outside of Scranton, PA. Matt and the Famigo team are helping parents to build out their summer bag of digital tricks to keep the kiddos entertained and learning this summer!
Building Your Summer Digital Bag of Tricks
The arrival of summer is universally welcomed by children, but for many parents it is justifiably a cause for some concern. Without the regular structure of a school day, parents often assume the herculean role of educator and entertainer-in-chief.
I used to be an Outward Bound instructor, regularly taking twelve students on sailing voyages for up to 26 days at a time. At first, I found this twenty-four hour per day responsibility exhausting. Then I noticed that my more seasoned colleagues had a bit more spring in their step than I did. I asked for advice and they all kept saying the same thing: make sure you develop your “bag of tricks”. The bag of tricks was shorthand for a mental library of brief activities that could be adapted to any situation or location without the need to plan or gather supplies. It took a while to develop, but once I had about 20 lessons that I could pull off at a moment’s notice, my life got dramatically easier.
Now I work for Famigo, a company with the goal of making mobile technology work for families. I play and review more kids apps than you can imagine and I’ve selected 5 outstanding, mostly educational apps to help you build your bag of tricks. That way, when you inevitably end up running errands with several kids in tow or find yourself less than halfway through the first leg of a family road trip with a backseat full of small, grumbling passengers, you can take a deep breath and know that Famigo has you covered.
The following apps cover a broad range of topics and ages; and some may very well end up on your phone or tablet for personal use. Click on the link for each app and you’ll be redirected to a full review at Famigo.com and a download link. These apps aren’t free, but they are very good, lack anything approaching objectionable content, and won’t break the bank through in-app purchases. In other words, they’re worth every penny.
That’s a good supply of tricks, but what about the bag to keep them all in? We’ve go that too.
The Famigo Sandbox is a great way to protect your kids from objectionable content, block in-app purchases, and generally provide a safe place for your kids to enjoy the outstanding apps that Famigo has hand selected for your family. It’s already available for Android, and an Apple version is coming soon. Plus, it’s free!
How does a visually striking, heartwarming, multi-generational, interactive book app sound? If it sounds like your cup of tea then this tale is for you. As you can imagine, the action opens when a young rooster looses his voice. Help him diagnose and cure his lost voice, while looking for a temporary replacement so that the whole farm won’t sleep in tomorrow morning!
I can’t stop playing this physics-based engineering game on my personal phone. The game play is delightfully simple, yet the physics engine which powers this game is remarkably realistic. You’ll have to design and build all sorts of structures to protect Melvin the dummy from an assortment of bizarre perils including bombs, giant sledgehammers and rooms with walls designed to crush your helpless dummy friend.
Cogs is a three-dimensional puzzle game that will keep you busy for hours with its 50 plus puzzles. The object is to power everything from a single cog to a complex machine by moving mosaic tiles – that are themselves spinning gears or steam-filled pipes – into the correct position. This app nails a rare sweet spot in difficulty settings: it’s challenging without inducing high levels of frustration. Get ready to flex your spatial reasoning muscles.
This is a one-stop shop for all of your toddler’s educational needs. Content areas include colors, counting, shapes, compare and contrast activities, basic logic, and much more. You’ll immediately be struck by how adorable every aspect of the app is. From the professorial panda to the bouncing background melody and the various sources of encouragement the user receives along the way, there’s plenty to smile about in this app.
Winter Walk is a really simple, fun game for the whole family in which your only task is to keep your hat on your head while you take a walk on a cold, blustery afternoon. Whether Winter Walk gives you a welcomed momentary chill, or it reminds you of just how nice the summer is, it’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Matt McDonnell is currently pursuing his J.D. at the University of Texas School of Law, having already earned his MBA at the College of Charleston. With a varied past as an elementary school teacher, Outward Bound sailing instructor, and non-profit administrator he does a little bit of everything at Famigo.