Any parent who has traveled with a child and a tablet knows the magic engagement powers that the handheld device provides. While it seems like many of apps that kids find the most engrossing require an internet connection (we're looking at you, Draw Something & Farmville), there are several great choices that don't.
When planning a road trip that you don't want a gigantic data bill from it's important to choose apps that don't need to be connected to the internet to work, and since we're the kind folks that we are, we've brought together a list of our teacher, mom, and dad approved faves.
Friendsheep HD: One of the things we love most about this simple matching game is how engrossing it is for all four players. This game will get the entire backseat involved as they try to corral the sheep that match their chosen pattern. We heard one dad of twins call this app "magical." $1.99
Magic Piano: A fantastic choice for the headphone wearing passenger, this app from music making app powerhouse Smule lets you play along with several classical and pop songs by following beams of light. It's a nice take on the tapping to the music apps and it contains actual pieces of music that you might want your child to listen to from composers like Beethoven. Free
Colorbox HD: We've talked a bit about art making apps before but we just had to mention this new arrival on the drawing app scene. We love this app because of how well its designed. It's easy for even the youngest artists to choose what tools they want to draw with and has a visual language that the grownups can appreciate it. Free
Puzzle Planet: Confession, I downloaded this app for myself, not for any kids. I'm a huge puzzle nerd and when stressed prefer to "puzz-it-out," and this app is one of the many that I use to do just that. I'm happy to report that old lady me, pre-teen goddaughter, and 4 year old godson think this app is a fun time. The app has different modes to scaffold the youngest puzzle solvers and helps prevent that "SOLVE this it's too hard," that can happen when a young child encounters something they think is too difficult. Free
Musaic Box: A fun combination of detective game and music composition tool, this is another app that your child will need headphones for. Also available as a Lite, free, version. $1.99
Robo Surf: Once we saw the totally cute graphics and simple, but engaging gameplay we knew we had to mention this app about a surfing robot. Also available as a free ad supported version. $1.04
Kids Maps: While driving through states, doesn't it seem fitting to play a state map puzzle game? This map game has been selected as a Google staff favorite and is sure to improve your tot's knowledge of US geography. $1.99
Color & Draw for Kids HD: Think of this app as a coloring book for your Android tablet. While we shudder at the color scheme and design, young children are sure to love coloring in the pages. $1.99
Bonus: If you have an internet connected device, check out Ladidude for iOS and Backitude for Android to track your location in the background as you travel. Both of these apps update your location on Google Latitude to create your travel route and it's a fun way to teach a little geography as you drive and remember where you went when the trip is over.
What tablet apps do your kids like to use when on road trips?
(Image: Joelle Alcaidinho)