10 Best Offline Apps for Traveling Toddlers

Tablets have become a necessity for many families these days. After all, they can offer endless hours of entertainment along with educational opportunities for kids. It’s surprising then that kids still get bored with their tablets, especially when there’s no access to WiFi. For traveling families, this can be the situation more often than not, especially when they’re traveling to remote or rural areas, are on the road constantly, or on planes without free internet accessibility.

Although they outsmart us sometimes, my husband and I usually control our toddlers’ tablet time. We make sure that they often don’t get it for long stretches of time and that they’re not just always on YouTube Kids, especially before a trip. This helps when we are stuck in transit and let them have their tablets, it’s almost like they’re getting their devices for the first time, every time! We’ve also discovered that there are apps out there that keep them interested as much as YouTube Kids does, and these apps are actually both interactive and creative-something that the kids really don’t get when tuned in on videos. Here are some of the apps we’ve found to be both entertaining and appropriate for our toddlers.

 

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1. Toca Dance – iOS/Android – $2.99

Toca Dance is one among many of Toca Boca’s highly entertaining kid-approved apps. Kids can choreograph endless dance routines, make costume changes as needed, and even interact with app characters. This paid app also has a free version with limited features, but the paid version is well worth the money. Toca Boca also features a bundle package if you want to save money and purchase all their other apps on this list.

2. Mrs. Potato Head – iOS/Android – FREE

The digital Mrs. Potato Head is just as fun as the original toy, now as portable as ever. Mrs. Potato Head features tons of fun costumes that your kids can take photos of. Kids can be as creative as possible by mixing and matching costumes from different collections.

3. Endless Reader – iOS/Android – FREE

This app is free to download, but you’ll need to purchase a reader pack in order to get all the letters in the alphabet. This is great for learning on the road and is designed for kids aged 4 and older. My kids have been using this app since they were 2 though, and they find the graphics and sounds very entertaining. It’s also great for beginner readers to practice with.

4. Toca Hair Salon 2 – iOS/Android – $2.99

Kids can be stylists in this incredibly ingenious app. Toca Boca’s Hair Salon 2 is a hair styling app that features the ability to wash, cut, color, and style different characters’ hairdos.

5. Toca Kitchen 2 – iOS/Android – FREE

With the addition of new characters and kitchen tools, Toca Boca has made Toca Kitchen even better with its 2nd version. Kitchen 2 lets kids get creative in the kitchen (and messy too!) as much as they want.

6. Ocean Swimmer – iOS/Android – $2.99

This app from Sago Mini is probably one of the most interactive and comprehensive apps out there for kids. You can discover lots of characters and pretty much interact with all sorts of creatures in this app. Kids can swim the ocean all day with this one.

7. Hoopla – iOS/Android – FREE

Hoopla is a digital library app. You can download it and get access by putting in your local library information (as long as your library location participates). You can browse through thousands of available videos, music, and books and download ones that you like to keep on your device. Much like how a library works, you can only borrow a limited number of digital items at a time and have a set number of days to keep them. Also, take note that you must have internet connection at the time of download. After the download process, you can have access to your materials when offline.

8. Kids Doodle – iOS/Android – FREE

There are tons of drawing/sketching apps out there. My kids happen to like this one because it’s really easy to use. There are no how to’s or intricate designs. There are just tons of bright colors they use to pretty much just scribble away. I can imagine that once the kids get older, they’re going to want something with a little bit more capability. But for now, this works and it’s free!

9. Toca Band – iOS/Android – $2.99

Kids can put together their own bands and play an endless array of music they create with this app. There are thousands of instrument combinations you can make with this app; it can get pretty crazy. That’s a warning for parents, though, as the songs your kids come up with might be a little too catchy. You might find yourself wanting to play as well.

10. Photo Booth – iOS – FREE

This iOS app doesn’t need to be downloaded as it comes bundled with the rest of Apple’s standard apps. I can’t tell you how much time me and my kids have spent making faces and adding effects for this camera app. It’s even funnier when the kids learn how to use the app themselves. You never know what kinds of faces your kids make when you’re not looking.

 

There are other Sago Mini and Toca Boca apps our kids love that are worth to check out. Just go to either iTunes or Google Play and type in Sago Mini or Toca Boca.  At the toddler age, they aren’t too interested in playing games on their devices just yet, and these apps provide just the right amount of fun and creativity to keep them entertained for a while. Enjoy and safe travels!

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Has Homeschooling Ever Crossed Your Mind?

When I had my first child, I never thought I’d be a homeschooling mom. My goal back then was to get a medical degree, work diligently to help provide a financially stable life for my family, and give my daughter a life full of possibilities. That meant I had to go to school full-time with extra courses during the day, work the graveyard shift at the hospital for some experience, and sleep for a few solid hours in the morning while my daughter spent the day at her preschool. My husband usually picked her up after work so I could see her before I left for work until the following morning. It was difficult. I missed my daughter, and I barely saw her when she was only so little. But I was so determined to give her everything she deserved-the best life possible-that I was willing to sacrifice our time together.

How quickly things changed after I found out I was pregnant with my son, only seven short months after I gave birth to my daughter. In another nine months after that, I was to have another child. The thought of it troubled me so deeply. How was I to mother another child when I’d barely known my first? There was a complete mental shift in my perception of motherhood. It was so palpable; I knew something had to give. To me, it never felt as if I gave up a career path. It always felt as if I gave up on an opportunity to provide for my family, to be better off financially. This was because I didn’t know then what I know now about money. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Regardless, it was a clear sacrifice in so many ways. Living on a single income is not easy, but it is possible.  After a while, it became clear to us that there were many families who not only thrived on a single income but actually lived life the way we envisioned it should be: full of travel, discoveries, opportunities, and just full of time and moments spent with each other. Now, after being inspired by so many other families out there living a similar lifestyle, we’ve expanded our dream to one day allow my husband to work remotely just as I do now. Hopefully one day we can slow travel and really find ourselves and our children immersed in other cultures. For now, traveling in bouts and as often as possible will make do.

Homeschooling happened to us not by accident or because we didn’t have any other choice. My husband and I made the conscious decision to become the primary caregivers of our kids all day, everyday. There are many, many, MANY reasons why we choose to do our learning from home. That’s also a discussion for another time. But ever since we decided we wanted to be our children’s educators, the research has been nonstop! The amount of information available to those who are looking to go down the homeschooling path is unbelievable. There are hundreds upon hundreds of curriculums to choose from, a number of philosophies you can adapt or combine, and a multitude of resources at your reach-both free or not. It only makes sense because once you take learning outside the box of an institution, you can really see how high the sky is and how far the horizon stretches.

IMG_0005If it’s ever crossed your mind to homeschool and are faced with so much doubt, let me tell you that you’re not alone. Our children are still young, and we’re already asking ourselves if we can really pursue this for the long haul. We’ve already faced the usual judgments and criticisms from our small circle, and we expect there will be more as we go. That’s okay because people generally judge what they don’t know or understand. But you know what? The more we travel, the more we are convinced that this is absolutely the lifestyle for us. We want the world to be our classroom. I really can’t explain that any other way.

So if you’re thinking about homeschooling or are struggling with homeschooling, don’t give up on it-whatever point you’re at with your children. We understand your plight and commend you for what you do. If homeschooling is just an idea you keep playing in your head, I suggest you read up on what it is about and the opportunities you and your family can have with home learning. I promise you’ll be inspired whichever way you decide to go afterwards with your kids’ education.