Five Cool Connected Things to Do With Your Kids for Free

These days being connected is as much a pain as it is a necessity. More and more you see your friends and colleagues taking “Facebook vacations”– self-imposed absences online. You’ve heard stories of dinner parties that require you to check your phone at the door, while a whole new generation of parents are trying to take back dinner by outlawing electronic devices at the dinner table.

France took it to a whole new level, recently enacting a law that protects workers from ignoring their work email during off-time. Our need to break our connection was a long time coming, and much-needed for us to reconnect with our friends, family, and most importantly, ourselves. But being connected isn’t all bad all the time. Sometimes it can be used for good, like giving you a new and fun way to connect with your kids. Here are five such ways to bond with your children while learning something new and cool at the same time.

  1. Become a Disease Expert. Okay we realize this sounds post-apocalyptic and super weird, but that’s also kind of “in” these days, (TWD fans, you know who you are). The CDC’s new app, Solve the Outbreak, challenges your kids to extrapolate and analyze data in a fun (if creepy) way. According to the description on the Google Play app site: “Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to get clues and analyze data to solve the outbreak and save lives! In this fun app, you get to be the Disease Detective. Do you quarantine the village? Interview people who are sick? Run more lab tests? The better your answers, the higher your score – and the quicker you’ll climb the ranks to become a decorated Disease Detective.” What’s not to love about this?
Flickr user CDC Global

Flickr user CDC Global

2. Learn a Foreign Language. Parlez-vous francais? Ever wanted to but been too busy to start? With the Duolingo app, any time is a good time to learn. Just download the app to your smartphone (or pull up the site on your computer), gather the littles, and start exploring. The app is super easy to use and arranged in such a way that you can use it for as little as a few minutes while waiting in line, or for much longer on a road trip. Other languages include Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and more.


Flickr user Karen Roe

3. Divide and Conquer. Learning long division is still a requirement these days (though not sure why– smartphone calculator, hello?). Make it as easy and painless as possible with this series of online video tutorials from the Khan Academy. The website also offers free webinars on a wide variety of other school subjects.hqdefault

4. Cultivate a Taste for the Arts, 007-Style. The Albright-Knox Institute has cleverly disguised learning about classic and modern artists  in a neat little mobile gaming app. According to the app website, you can “run through Vincent van Gogh’s Southern France; dodge the bats and other art evil-doers.” Sounds exhilarating and cosmopolitan in equal measures.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.08.10 PM

Photo from ArtGames website

5. Tickle your Noggin. BrainPOP offers fun, interactive videos and games that supplement school curriculum for grades K-12.  (Check out Brain Pop Jr. for grades K to 3.) A subscription is required to access the entire site but there is still plenty of content available for free.

Photo from BrainPOP website

Photo from BrainPOP website


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