“Mom, I’m bored.” Normally I respond with, “I’m sure if you go look hard enough you’ll find something fun to do.”

If that doesn’t work to stimulate a little creativity, I offer to give them their next day of school work (we are a home school family), and that usually does the trick!

There are times, however, when I do need to have, or be, the solution to their boredom, primarily when we are out of the house and stuck in either a long line or waiting for an appointment. What began for me as very strict, “No way are you touching my smart phone,” slowly melted into, “Only in emergencies are you touching my smart phone.”

What constitutes an emergency? For me, it’s when the wait has gone over the 10 minutes and all the stuff I packed has lost its entertainment value, or the unexpected wait when I am completely unprepared – such as 10 cars at the bank drive up window, or the long line of carts at the Walmart check out!

Today I'm reviewing three of my six-year-old daughter’s favorite Android apps.

Just a quick note on the criteria of our game selections: Since my daughter is deaf, my choices for her definitely have particular qualities. We need very visually stimulating games; they cannot rely on audio for her to understand game play. Also, she was adopted only two years ago, so although she is six, she still does not have the reading skills necessary for many games other kids her age may enjoy. I also want something that she can navigate herself and not become frustrated using.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

Basic skills: Matching first letters to words; counting; puzzles; matching pictures

What I love: Very easy to use! My daughter was able to master this program with very little help from me, a definite bonus when the purpose of using these programs is to give you either a break or keep them occupied. It also has an easy exit from the program, by simply selecting home. While this is a positive, the negative is if she hits it by accident, it leaves my phone vulnerable to her surfing, especially if I don’t notice she’s left the game!

If I had my way: The game would become more challenging with play. As a home educator, I love things that continually challenge my kids. It would also be great if the reward stickers you collect during play could be saved from log in to log in.

Games for Kids HD Free

Basic skills: Picture memory game; color recognition; eye/hand coordination; puzzles; picture recognition; memory/sequence game

What I love: Easy to navigate; has lots of options for the free user (there is pro version you can purchase for .99 – which I did). Offers different levels of play, which as previously mentioned, I find important for turning this from mindless time killing, to having real educational value.

If I had my way: The only feature I found confusing was the instructions box that pops up before each game.  It is a picture diagram of how to play the game, and although it is step-by-step, the illustrations are a bit confusing. Luckily, you can just skip over it, and the games are virtually self-explanatory.

kids doodle

Basic skills: Artistic expression

What I love: Although I like to tout those educational programs, sometimes you really do just need something mindless yet entertaining, especially for that sick kid who is just not in the mood to wait for the doctor any longer, or for their prescription to be filled. This app fits that bill–it is just plain fun. It offers different paper colors, marker options, and then the most fun–you can play back your doodle as a stroke by stroke movie. You can even save them to share with Dad when you get home, or share them using any social media outlet.

If I had my way: I would make selecting paper color or marker options easier. You have to flip through all the options to get to the one you want for paper, and for the markers, you do not know whether you have iridescent, rainbow, dots, or sparkle, until you begin drawing with it.

**This one is even fun for adults–inset picture is my own handy work! All my Facebook friends were so impressed!

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Copyright 2012 Allison Gingras