In the recent months of lockdown, we were trapped at home and our children were deprived of outdoor activities and fresh air. In a world where previously, parents had been known to worry about excessive screen time, screen time was suddenly forced upon us all: What's App, Houseparty and for some lucky children - who didn't always feel so blessed - online learning with live lessons delivered through Zoom, Google Classroom and Skype. Music lessons too. All of this on top of the usual 'social' interactions with friends through online gaming.
While we cautiously wait for lockdown to fully lift, ever under the shadow of a second wave, this is a good time to reassess the screen offerings you present your children with. It is likely that whatever lies ahead, screens will play an increasingly important part in the lives of the younger generations. We can't change this, but we can present variety by suggesting some fun and educational apps for the summer holidays ahead. If you feel your child might have had too large a dose of FIFA or Minecraft, consider throwing these ideas in their general direction.
1. QUICK MATHS (Maths)
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - an app that uses advanced handwriting recognition allowing you to "write" the answers on the screen with your fingertips! No typing or selecting from multiple choice answers. Just work out the answer and be delighted that the app can ‘recognise’ the handwriting of even the scribbliest of writers. Perfect for children aged 6 - 12, and for anyone wanting to improve their general maths skills.
2. 2048 (Logic and Maths)
This is good. Very good. Please try it and let me know what you think. Slide up/down/right/left to move the tiles ... and when two tiles with the same number touch, they merge into one! You'll have to think strategically and plan your moves carefully ... but can you make it to 2048? When there are no more moves left, and the board is full, the game is over.
3. MAPS OF OUR WORLD (Geography)
Would you find Bolivia on a world map? Where are the Himalayas? And how well do you know the capital cities of European countries? This app helps you to learn about the countries, capitals, rivers and deserts of the world, and then puts your knowledge to the test. It’s easy for a novice to get started, but the higher difficulty levels are a challenge even for experts!
4. PERIODIC TABLE (Chemistry)
Information about the chemical elements that make up the periodic table. Click on any element to see what it looks like and sort elements into various categories: alkali metals, alkaline non-metals, halogens, noble gases, solubility and so on. A wonderful reference app for chemists in the making.
5. BRAIN IT ON (Physics)
Draw shapes to solve challenging physics puzzles which are not as easy as they look. Working as a team, with an adult perhaps, highlights the value of teamwork.
6. CAT PHYSICS (Physics)
This is a fun, strategy, puzzle game. To play, you'll need to understand what happens when a ball is thrown in a certain direction, against a wall or over a ledge. As you pass the ball from one cat to another with obstacles along the way, you'll see the laws of physics in action.
7. BLOCKSCAPES (Logic)
Mindfulness that is both relaxing ... and challenging at the same time. Can such a thing exist? Drag wooden blocks strategically onto the jigsaw board and watch them click satisfyingly into place. Complete vertical and horizontal lines across the board to clear blocks and free up space. Can you beat your high score before the board fills up and you run out of moves?
And finally, a bonus app for you:
THE STUPID TEST (Maths and Problem Solving)
How many months have 28 days? And, what is as light as a feather but even the strongest man cannot hold it for more than a few minutes. Are you stupid? Complete this app to prove to yourself and your friends that you are not! Common sense, advanced arithmetic and problem solving skills are essential to complete the quiz and if you are struggling, there are hints and answers to help you.
If you are too busy to read this blog but have managed to skim down to here, SOME KEY POINTS:
- Be aware of how games affect the dynamic in your family.
- Set screen time limits for your children. AND
- Ensure there are no devices in your children’s bedrooms at night.
Devices are addictive by design - this is no secret. But, sometimes, life takes you in a direction you never expected. Lockdown did that to us and while the threat of a second wave hangs in the air meaning we may find ourselves confined to our homes again, its a good idea to reassess the screen offerings you present your children with.