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App Chat: Keep your kids entertained during tedious holiday travel

Cat in the Hat app.
Cat in the Hat app.
Oceanhouse Media

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With holiday travel coming up, now might not be a bad time to think about downloading some apps on your phone or tablet to keep the kiddos occupied as you deal with long waits at the airport or epic car rides.

Here with her picks is Ciaran Blumenfeld, author of the popular Momfluential blog.  

Recommended Apps:

Dr. Seuss Camera
The Dr. Seuss Camera is a perennial kids favorite. We got this actually last winter, but we still love playing with it. It's an app that lets your kids take pictures of themselves as the Grinch or take pictures of themselves as Cindy Lou Who. You can take a picture of the dog with some antlers on then you can actually turn it into a card and send it to people. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas 
The entire "Charlie Brown Christmas" story has been turned into an app for kids. What I love about this is that sometimes those program that we love when we were kids and that we relate to so much, when you try to show those to your kids, they have a hard time making it past the five minutes of credit at the intro. It looks dated and they get bored. So what I have found with the Peanuts Christmas and also "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" is that it's a very true to the classic version of the story and the graphics are familiar to me and it's the stuff I loved as a kid, but you put it on an iPad or your iPhone and magically it's suddenly something that your kids can relate to. 

They can do things and make things happen when they touch it. You touch Rudolph's nose and it lights up, you touch the sky and snow starts falling, there's a lot of interactive actions. In the Peanuts one, your interactive actions can actually unlock games to play some of those are app features that you're going to have to pay more money for, but some of them are included for free.

"Frozen" Free Fall
I love the "Frozen" storybook app. It is like a full feature movie-style app. There's so much going on with that one. It's a story, but what's really cool is that the story is told from both sisters' perspectives so when you flip your iPad, you get the same story from a totally different perspective. And this app also has games in it so you can stop and play games and you can play games even after you have read both versions of the story, but it's very well animated and beautifully illustrated. My only caution is that if you have not seen the film already, it has spoilers. 

Toca Hair Salon—Christmas Gift
If you have ever wanted to groom Santa, this is your big chance. You can give Santa a mohawk, you can give him hot pink hair, and there's also a Christmas tree that you can groom the hair of the Christmas tree and apply ornaments to. 

This is a photo book making app and it's so simple that actually kids can make the photo book as gifts themselves. And what I love, love, love about this particular photo book app is that while you're making the photo book, you can do recordings for each and every image in the photo book. And then the photo book is printed with QR codes. So anyone who is looking at it with a smartphone can scan it and hear what you have to say. If you're at a family gathering, you can actually sing a song, you can get a quote from your grandparents. It's really a rich, interactive experience. 

Ustyme is really clever. I think it was developed with grandparents in mind. It lets you play games, read stories, and it has a lot of the classics you would play with your grandma. It has checkers and chess and Go Fish and rock, paper, scissors. These are all built into the app and it allows you to log-in in a very special environment and then both play together or read the story together.