10 great apps to keep children busy at half-term

Jonathan Weinberg
Yahoo! News
Toca Tailor

It's the Whitsun half-term holiday this week and with the weather set to force poor parents indoors, there may be a need for some techno distraction to keep the children occupied.

According to Stuart Dredge of children's apps website Apps Playground, apps don't have to be a virtual one-way relationship to suck kids in to the screen.

He said: "Millions of parents will be turning to apps to entertain their children this week, especially if the weather's bad. But these aren't just things to keep kids quiet while parents take a break.

"In fact, children's apps can be at their most rewarding when parents and children use them together: apps as bonding experiences rather than babysitting."

So to mark half-term, here's 10 of the best engaging kids' apps for children to enjoy and be educated by until we get some sunshine.












[Related: Get the best deals on smartphones here]


Justin's World - Goldilocks and the Three Bears
If you've never heard of Justin Fletcher than you probably don't have children. The man famed for CBeebies' Mr Tumble has his latest iPad story-telling app riding high in the charts. With a mix of fun and learning games, it's based on the popular fairytale and set inside the house of Daddy, Mummy and Baby Bear.


Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom - Magic School
Currently top of the iTunes charts, everyone's favourite magical fairy and elf appear in this colourful title teaching little ones a range of virtual magic tricks. It's packed with games and its makers offer the reassurance that there's no in-app purchases within it meaning youngsters can't rack up a big bill buying extra stuff without your knowledge.


Toddler Teasers

Loved by parents and teachers alike for their education value, these games teach everything from shapes to colours to animals to numbers and letters. Perfect for those of pre-school age, there is also the option to buy extra elements as you go along. Just don't let your child loose with your iTunes password.


Toca Tailor
Budding fashion designers could do worse than getting in on the ground floor at an early age. Use your skills to dress up one of four characters choosing from different fabrics, sizes, colours and patterns. You can even make little tailoring tweaks to ensure it has been fully made to measure.


Makies Doll Factory
What could be better than spending hours designing your own doll using this app? Well, ordering a real-life version from 3D printing specialists MakieLab… that's what. The app is totally free to use and provides hours of fun creating different realistic-looking dolls, each complete with clothing, hair and other additional features. Then if you want to purchase it you can, and have the 10-inch figure delivered directly to you with prices starting at £60.

Kodable Pro
This could be the best two quid you've ever spent. Currently on sale as a new release, this iPad app teaches your children the basics of coding using fun characters and little games that build knowledge and insight into the much in-demand skill. It could eventually lead them on the path to a lucrative career in programming for the new digital age and potentially make them the creator of a new Facebook or Twitter. It's got to be worth a punt at that price.


Minecraft

One word of warning before you give your kids access to this virtual world of building and monsters. It's very addictive and can also be pretty costly with in-game purchases. However, it's extremely fun and educational in places and is forever adding new bits in the same way you will be doing with your blocks. Think of it as a virtual version of those colourful bricks you used to play with, on a much, much grander scale.


IdentiKat
These days kittens and cats are bigger web stars than many A-list celebrities, especially on YouTube. So this app is doing a good job of jumping on that bandwagon to hook the little-uns into feline-friendly adventures from a young age. It's all about creating a cat from various different objects and adding funny sounds and meows to bring them to life.



[Related: Get the best deals on smartphones here]




Motion Math: Hungry Fish
Let's face it. Maths can be boring. All those sums and fractions and equations. So this neat app aims to change that by hooking mathematics into fish. Suitable for a variety of ages, children must swim their little fishy under the sea, chomping on different numbers to complete the sums correctly. Again like many others in this space, there's a whole host of in-app purchases to extend its features and the amount of puzzles available.


Cheeky Chins
Sometimes the most simple ideas are the best. And this game will surely give children hours of fun - as well as adults too. Snap a short video, flip it upside down, decorate the chin with all manner of cartoon-style props such as pirate hats and moustaches and share it with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email or YouTube. You'll be in stitches when the dressed–up chin appears to be the one talking. Makes a change from that old "Talk to the hand" chestnut.