This year brings a new crop of fun Christmas apps, including an updated Dr. Seuss classic and an addictively fun game based on the new DreamWorks movie the Rise of the Guardians. Holiday traditions like advent calendars and the Elf on the Shelf make for great apps that will keep your kids occupied while you’re whittling down your to-do list. Here’s a few of our favorite new Christmas apps for 2012.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Dr. Seuss $4.99, Ages 3-6
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is one of the classics that I might just love more than my kids. This interactive book lets kids choose to read the story themselves, have it read by a narrator, or autoplay, which reads the story and turns the pages. You can also record yourself reading the story and share it with others.
The interactive features are somewhat limited – kids can touch pictures to see the words like “tree” or “snow” pop up, which my youngest thought was great fun. My five-year-old could care less about the reading aspect – she liked the autoplay version best because it was like the movie.
If your kids like this one, they’ll enjoy Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, also from Oceanhouse Media, which has all the same features.
2. A Snowman Maker
$0.99, Ages 5-8
This app lets you create and accessorize your own snowman with lots of different options for decorations. You can choose your own background, décor (like presents and reindeer), the color of your snowman (yellow, anyone?), and all kinds of fun bling.
Kids may want to drag and drop the different accessories on their snowman at first, but once they figure out they need to touch the icons and then touch them on the screen where they want them placed, they’ll be zipping right along. You can save and share your snowman once the kids are done, and then hit the “avalanche” button to clear the screen and start again from scratch.
3. Christmas Fun – All in One Holiday Spirit HD
$2.99, Ages 0-4
If you’re looking for just one Christmas app, this one will give you the best value. It has 13 different games and activities to keep kids with even the shortest attention spans busy for a while. Many of the games like the puzzles, gingerbread peek-a-boo, and matching games are great for younger kids.
Older kids will have fun with the dress-up, coloring and puzzle games. Other activities include stories, songs, and interactive toy train that teaches spelling.
4. Holiday Advent Calendar 2012
$0.99, Ages 0+
Count down to Christmas with this advent calendar. You can choose to open one present each day to decorate the Christmas tree (and see other fun surprises) or open all the presents at once if your kids just can’t wait.
You can drag down the sun to turn the scene to night, see the landscape get covered in snow, touch the snowflakes to make them disappear, and change the music on the radio. One of the great things about this app is it’s simplicity, making it intuitive enough for even the youngest kids.
5. DreamWorks Dash n Drop
$0.99, Ages 5-8
This game features the characters from the new DreamWorks movie the Rise of the Guardians on a mission to collect and deliver presents, while avoiding the Nightmare creatures who will steal the gifts. As kids collect presents, coins and elves, they advance to new cities.
The mechanics of the game are basic – you touch the screen to make the sleigh dive and release to let it climb, but it’s surprisingly addictive. Even if your kids haven’t seen the movie, they’ll have fun with this app.
6. Snowball Fight – Elf on the Shelf – Christmas Game
FREE, Ages 2-4
The elves take a break from reporting to Santa who’s been naughty or nice and have a snowball fight in this game, an official Elf on the Shelf app. Your elf gets points for hitting other elves with snowballs, but be sure not to hit Santa! As you advance to higher levels, the snowballs come faster and faster.
It would be more fun if you could move your elf to different parts of the screen, but you’re only able to tap the screen where you want to throw the snowballs. This would be a fun companion game for a family that has the Elf on the Shelf, but it also stands on its own.
Want more? Check out our favorite Christmas apps from 2011.