Do you have a houseful of children who just can't wait until Christmas? These apps will keep kids and their parents entertained and occupied until Santa shows up later this week.
NORAD Tracks Santa
(iOS, Android; free)
For 60 years NORAD — the North American Aerospace Defense Command — has whimsically used its expertise on Christmas Eve to “track” Santa's sled as it makes its way from the North Pole loaded with gifts. As the app counts down the days until Santa's yearly sojourn, there are games and puzzles that will put children in the Christmas spirit. The app also explains NORAD's more serious mission when the agency is not tracking Santa.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
(iOS, $5.99; Android, $4.99)
Another holiday tradition gets an electronic makeover with this version of the TV classic, first telecast in 1965. As in the TV show, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang are trying to find the true meaning of Christmas. The app features original scenes from the TV show and adds interactive features such as the ability for kids to play Schroeder's piano or to join Charlie Brown and friends as they go a-caroling.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
(iOS, Android; $4.99)
This app version of the 1957 Dr. Seuss classic offers all the charm of the original book, including the iconic artwork, and adds some 21st-century bells and whistles. You can use “narration mode” and have the app read the book aloud, or your kids can read it themselves the old-fashioned way. There is also an interactive feature where your child touches a picture and words associated with it are spoken aloud.
(iOS, Android; free)
From the developers who brought the world the wildly popular “Talking Tom Cat” comes a similar app with a Christmas theme. Speak some words into your mobile device's microphone, and Santa will repeat them in Santa's baritone. You can offer Santa some cookies or see what's in his bag of gifts. Those feeling more naughty than nice can throw a giant snowball at Santa.
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