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Kindie Rock and iPad Apps for the Road to Grandma’s House

By Liz Gumbinner

If you plan on any long drives in your Traverse with the kids this holiday season, my number one rule: Come prepared. First, with snacks. Second, with tech. Here are some of my favorite suggestions for loading up your tablet or smartphone so you can enjoy the ride as you like it, either in total silence or harmonizing with the kiddos in the backseat.

When You Want a Little Quiet

Apps are your friend. (Say it with me: Apps are your friend.) For younger kids who love creative play and imagination, the apps from Swedish developer Toca Boca are quirky, charming and engaging. My girls go absolutely nuts for them. Toca Tailor is the newest release for fashionable future Project Runway contestants, while apps like Toca Hair Salon and Toca Band are now classics. Just be warned: You may end up with all 15 apps. Ask me how I know.

If you get just one game on your iPad or phone to keep an older kid entertained, I’ve heard Stack the States suggested more than any other. It’s a geography lesson and great fun all in one. The fact that it’s educational really does help you justify it more than, say, shooting pigs with slingshots.

If you like the idea of kids creating art but don’t like the idea of them crushing Crayons into the backseat upholstery, the Kid Van Gogh app is a very good new app, and it’s free. Kids especially love the fact that they can doodle over the photos in your library. Don’t worry—they’re duplicates, not your original files.

When You Want a Little Music

I love that in the last several years, an entire “kindie rock” music genre has cropped up for families, featuring truly talented bands dripping with indie cred. While it’s hard to narrow it, here are a few favorite albums for the season that are well worth a download:

The Jimmies, Mama Said Nog You Out
This is a fun, poppy, catchy holiday album with a sense of humor (if you can’t tell from the title), and it’s rife with songs about all kinds of holidays. Including “Chrismukaah.” I think this album is perfect for grade-schoolers who are starting to care about “cool” music but aren’t quite ready for Katy Perry—according to their moms.

The Hipwaders: A Kindie Christmas
Just when you’re thinking you need a break from the traditional stuff on the radio, it’s time to crank up this Boston band. The lyrics may be about classic holiday themes like reindeer and tinsel, but the instrumentation ranges from funky ’70s guitar licks to Latin fusion.

Putumayo: A Family Christmas
Putumayo is known for their wonderful CD compilations that celebrate authentic world music from around the globe. This album features beloved covers reinterpreted by the likes of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Leon Redbone and Johnny Bregar, who does an awesome acoustic of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” It’s definitely one of the nicer ways to spend an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, as I recently discovered.

This is Part 1 of a two-part series on apps for your car from Liz Gumbinner. Stay tuned for the next one on safety apps and gadgets.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Liz Gumbinner, along with partner Kristen Chase, is the Co-Publisher of Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech, which have been named top parenting resources by Real Simple, InStyle and Time. She can often be found doling out shopping tips and offering common-sense wisdom on parenting trends in publications like Martha Stewart Living and on Babycenter.com, KatieCouric.com and NBC’s TODAY Show.


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