This blog was originally published on the website Playful-living.com
by Jo Booth
Halloween is just plain fun for kids of all ages. Dressing up and trying out new roles and rules for pretend play gives kids a chance to take on another’s perspective. Young children often have a blurred line between reality and make-believe, so putting on that princess’ dress is the way to being royal – at least for a while. In addition, scary stories, movies, and playthings help us practice self-regulation by challenging our comfort zones and exploring the unknown. If you look up Halloween apps for kids, there are a plethora of apps, most are silly and ridden with inappropriate content, IAPs (In-App Purchases), and ads. Here is a list of our must play games and apps that will keep it challenging, but most of all playful. Many apps companies put out holiday versions – to be updated during a special holiday, i.e. Sago Mini, Highlights, Lego, and Edoki – so be sure to check out your update section at the app store or google play for these classic apps that include a holiday theme.
Weirdwood Manor is a series of 6 interactive books by All Work, No Play. What makes this series so exceptional is the sheer fun of original storytelling with a spooky theme, beautifully rendered animation, and interactive puzzlers that give rise to creative problem-solving. It is a perfect blend of reading and gameplay that immerses you in the world of Weirdwood. The story centers on the lives of three talented children who are unique – and have been misfits at home. They’ve won a prize to come to Weirdwood to meet Arthur Weirdwood, an author, and inventor, but soon things get a little weird… This is a must-have series for elementary and tweens as it celebrates the unique and talents of all – and that is a message worth repeating.
Ravensburger’s Whoowasit? is a play on the classic game of Clue. It’s a “who done it” with an interactive punch! There is a bit of a learning curve to play, and it is worthwhile to go through the tutorials. The story centers on the children of a castle finding a lost ring hidden by the evil wizard. To find the ring, a room to room search must be undertaken. In each room, participants can either find hidden foodstuffs to bribe the animals into talking or keys to unlock a chest of a suspect. Oh, and there is a pesky ghost to deal with…
Highlights Hidden Pictures is a subscription model that is updated frequently to remain current with the season. Who hasn’t known and loved these puzzlers? Hidden pictures add challenges of timed and sequential order for finding objects hidden from view as well as the time-honored standard of finding them at leisure. I love how the app grades the complexity within a level. In settings, a parent or teacher can modulate what type of clues are given – by a visual – picture, auditory – word, or to hide the clues altogether and have the child discover the hidden pics on their own. In addition, by adding a black and white picture to the mix, it makes it a little harder to find the objects and is reminiscent of the Highlights magazine. These are great games for visual scanning and learning to think outside the box.
Another Highlights Halloween App is Highlights Puzzletown. It is also based on the subscription type service, however, as in the Hidden Picture app, the holiday puzzles are free to download. The puzzlers include hidden pictures, mazes, interlocking puzzles, and a find the difference within 2 pictures. I love these kinds of challenges for kids as it teaches early spatial and visual discrimination skills that are so important for reading and writing. Highlights is a well-researched and trusted brand that parents can rely on. There are no IAPs for secret gems, hints, or advertisements. The subscription model is for bringing in new content to keep their app fresh and challenging.
Lego Scooby Doo Escape from Haunted Isle couldn’t be more fun than as it contains two long-standing kid favorites – Legos and Scooby Doo. Lego Scooby Doo is a fast runner type game that helps build eye-hand coordination, challenges spatial abilities, and problem-solving adapting to environmental needs. Play centers around completing missions and solving a mystery. It would be super to have this sold as a set with Legos to build the items that are in the app to extend play. Now that would be grand!
Monster Park – Dino World Walking with Dinosaurs by Vito Technology is a load of fun by putting a wee scare into you. Made with Apple’s new ARKit, the two dinos are lifelike and it is unnerving to see T-Rex prance about your living room. Currently there are a T-Rex and a Pteranodon – hopefully, more dinos will be added in a future update or add-on pack. Some of the activities are walking with a dino, taking pictures with your dino, and even making a video. The coolest part of the app is to open a portal into the time of dinosaurs. Once opened, walking in is a snap and it is a wondrous scene taking you back into the time of dinosaurs.
Trick or Treat Little Critter is an interactive storybook by OceanHouse Media that explains the customs of Halloween to little folks. It describes in detail the expectations and roles to play at Halloween as well as all the great benefits to Trick or Treating. It always amazes me how a few kids have no idea what is going on during Halloween because no one has explained it to them. Often there is not an older sibling or friend that explains what the holiday is like in Kid’s Terms that would make it remotely interesting and something that they should invest time and effort into participating. Too many kids, the thought of dressing up in something uncomfortable, staying out late, and all the noise is just too much. Once they have an idea of the benefits to be reaped in terms of attention, candy, and fun…they are all in. OceanHouse Media is a company that always comes to the rescue in explaining the world and its customs to kids.
Peek-a-boo Trick or Treat by Night and Day Studios is a classic app for beginning iPad users. The app itself is an open play invitation to investigate further and gives kids time to process what they need to do to explore the characters inside a haunted house. A gentle tap or swat for kids on the iPad opens a door to a Halloween denizen. The simple but bold graphics on each page enhances vocabulary without unnecessary visual or auditory clutter – making the labels clear. Once the doors are opened, kids are treated to an animation. Repeat play reveals a hint of who is behind the door – and builds good listening skills. I like that you can choose between an adult or child’s voice.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! Is an action-packed app that can be Read Along with the exciting author and narrator, Ed Emberley, Read Along with a child narrator, Read by Myself, or have the Story Sung in an upbeat jazzy tune. The benefits to this playing are both learning about the vocabulary for body awareness, but the ability to anticipate and sequence a story. We use this app in therapy all year round as its liveliness is simply infectious.
I look forward to Sago Mini Monsters Halloween update every year. This is an app that can be used for children that have mastered single causation in play, and need more of a challenge. The Halloween version has kids bring up a monster face from the green slime pits. He is then dusted off and painted, given new accouterments, and then feed all sorts of treats and goodies. There is a price to pay – and if you eat a lot of treats – you need to brush your teeth! I love how daily routines are reinforced in this app. Brushing teeth is often hard to incorporate in a young one’s day. And practicing this in-app presents an opportunity to familiarize them with the sequence to the task and make it non-threatening.
Take a peek, trick or treat, and download an app or two. You can’t go wrong with any of these selections. Halloween is a play time for one and all!