When people hear we just travelled to Europe with 4 kids under 6 they usually say we’re crazy (which we probably are!). I admit that it is not an easy, and definitely not a relaxing, journey, but after having made the same trip several times I have become quite the expert at packing backpacks full of entertainment to help get us through the long flights and stopover.
I always start a few months in advance by getting each child a new backpack and adding books, activity pads, games, play sets and markers as I pick them up on sale. I never show the kids what’s in their backpacks until we’re on the plane, they love unpacking their new goodies and they’re happy to share with each other. This time I also surprised them with some new LeapFrog games for their LeapPads which were a huge hit:
For miss 3 I picked Sesame Street – Solve it with Elmo, Abby and Super Grover 2.0! ($44.99, ages 3-5) who absolutely loves Abby Cadabby. With the start of kindy coming up this is a great game to practice basic pre-school skills like problem solving, logic and reasoning, balancing and cause and effect using friendly, familiar characters and through simple games that appeal to young children.
The game also touches on other interesting concepts like magnetism, machines, technology and engineering which were very popular with master 5. Miss 3 particularly liked adding little pigs to Abby’s boat to make it balance and navigating it across the river, they all thought catching chickens in Super Grover 2.0’s go-kart was hilarious.
Disney’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates ($44.99, ages 3-5) is another fantastic game for this younger age group. The aim of the game is to outsmart captain Hook with a series of mini games that will earn you coins for your treasure chest. The simple exercises are a great way to teach children to listen to and follow instructions, a skill that is very important at pre-school and of course at home too.
Practise your numbers by counting coins, learn about shapes and matching by fixing up a boat, find your way to the treasure chest by hopping over the lava river and much more, it’s a perfect learning game for little adventurers.
Anyone who knows our master 5 will know that he loves being challenged, he always wants to test his abilities by reading a tricky book or doing homework that’s above his level. When I spotted SpongeBob Squarepants – Fists of Foam ($44.99, ages 6-9) on sale I figured it would definitely keep him busy on our trip. Mathematics, geometry and fractions, it’s enough to make me shiver but he was super excited to try it out (not a child of his mother obviously!).
Clearly aimed at older children this particular SpongeBob Squarepants game (there are other SpongeBob Squarepants titles too) does involve a bit of ninja karate, that sounds nicer than fighting and in this case it is quite harmless in my opinion. Players will have to have some reading skills to be able to understand the story line. I hope master 5 is still this excited about fractions when he has to do it at school.
Of course the LeapPad already comes with a selection of apps including the Art Studio App but miss 5 is such a crafty person I knew she would really enjoy the Crayola Art Adventure ($44.99, ages 3-7) Learning Game as well. Using signature ‘Crayola’ tools like PipSqueak Markers players can work their way through different rooms, games and challenges and solve the mystery of the missing colours.
I think this is a really lovely game because it combines art, colour and design and even music (something our miss 5 can never get enough of) whilst covering basic skills like tracing lines, discovering patterns, solving puzzles, matching shapes and learning the names of shapes in the process. There is no time pressure, it is just good, calm, crafty fun.