One of the things that bothers me about a lot of Top 10 and other ‘best of’ app lists is that the apps chosen are skewed predominantly towards younger children. Halloween is one of those festivals that isn’t just for kids – teens and adults get to dress up and have fun too. So, in compiling this list I deliberately selected apps that are suitable for a variety of age ranges. In addition, when choosing apps for the littlest family members I have given preference to ones that can be enjoyed together with parents and older siblings. All of these apps have been tested by me, with my children. Only the last two apps in the list are strictly for teens and adults, so I’m the only one who has played with those.
In making my selections I also took price into account. There’s only one app in the list that costs more than $1.99 and that’s because I couldn’t resist including it. None of these apps have in-app purchases or in-app ads. Many of them may also drop in price as we get closer to Halloween so if you like the look of an app but can’t buy it right now, put it on your wishlist.
So, without further ado, my list of the Top Ten Halloween apps for the entire family, listed in order of age appropriateness:
Millie’s Book of Tricks and Treats – $0.99, iPhone/iPad. This app is an adorable one for younger children and parents to giggle over together. On each page, rub away the ‘cobwebs’ to uncover a picture of Millie the dog in a Halloween costume. Tap the page in random places to uncover stickers that can be collected. Knock on the door or ring the doorbell and Millie will receive either a treat (little girl loves bacon – great taste!) or perform a trick.
In the picture shown she’s performing my favourite trick – shadow pawppetry!
Elly Book 9 – $0.99, iPhone/iPad. My son Oliver is a huge Elly fan. Reading this book, as he sees Elly’s friends in costume for the first time, he’ll say “Oh! It’s a bat! Oh no, it’s Owl” and then collapse with laughter.
There’s nothing flash about these ebooks but to me that is one of their strengths. They’re gentle, sweet stories about a little reindeer and her friends. The illustrations are cute and the narration is just lovely.
First Words Halloween – $1.99, iPhone/iPad. Both Oliver and Owen love the First Words apps from Learning Touch and this one is no exception. There’s nothing fancy about these apps either but my kids go back to them time and time again. Your child sees an object and drags the letter tiles into the correct place to form the name of that object. Letters can be sounded out either by name or phonetically.
Giggle Ghosts – $0.99, iPad only. Cute and simple but manages to work on developing several skills – fine motor, learning cause and effect and counting from 1 to 20. Create puffs of air to bounce a ghost successfully across the screen – once you have all the ghosts in the Haunted House, it’s party time!
This is an app that encourages independent play, but when the boys and I play it I provide simple commentary that gives them extra opportunities to learn language and reinforces joint attention skills.
iLuv Drawing Monsters – $0.99, iPad only. The iLuv Drawing apps are a great way for both younger children and those with fine motor challenges to create some art work. Trace and colour-in easy shapes step-by-step, then customize with a background and stickers of your choice.
This would be a great app for getting your kids to make Halloween party invitations. The monster shown is one of Oliver’s creations and I’m not sure about you but I’m terrified.
Lego Halloween Creationary – FREE, iPhone/iPad. Oliver’s mad about Lego at the moment so I’m sure that’s part of the reason why he likes this app. Simplicity is again a virtue for me as far as this one goes. There are 4 objects shown and you have to guess which object is being built with Lego bricks before it’s finished.
Oliver and I play this one together, racing to see who can identify the object first. As an incidental benefit he’s working on spatial reasoning and object identification.
What Was I Scared Of? – $1.99, iPhone and iPad. Not strictly a Halloween book but one that deals with the subject of fear of the unknown. It’s chock-full of creepy music and the always-fabulous illustrations of Dr. Seuss.
I included this app because a) It’s a Seuss book b) Both my boys love it and c) It appeals to my love of the ridiculous. There is another Oceanhouse Media Halloween app that I also rate highly if you’re looking specifically for book recommendations – The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
Weird but True – $1.99, iPhone/iPad. I love trivia and this app from National Geographic Kids is full of facts that make you go “Hmm”, “I never knew that!”, “Weird!” and “Ewwwwww”.
Kids can tap the green comment button for animal-based commentary on the app, press the heart and the fact is saved in their favourites and my favourite feature – rate the app using the Weird-O-Meter. This has ratings that run from ‘Duh’ to ‘Totally Outrageous’ and National Geographic actually compile the results so you can see which facts people have rated as most weird.
Monsterpieces – $2.99, iPhone/iPad, rated 12+ This app enables you to create the most gruesome monsters you can imagine. You start with a torso and then add a head, eye(s), nose, mouth, headgear, scars and other delightful extras. Your choices are presented in a bubbling vat of liquid.
Once you’ve created your monster you can then take a picture of him which you can use to gross out your mother on Facebook. All of this activity is accompanied by music from bizarre surf band, Los Straitjackets. It’s both repellant and fun.
Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition – $1.99, iPad only. rated 12+ At 285 pages this is a digital graphic novel that teenagers and adults will enjoy. The text is enhanced with illustrations, animations and music. Pages should be lingered over to ensure you don’t miss anything – mists will clear to reveal carriages, hapless flies can be dragged into a spider’s web and when you tap words in red that pulse like a heartbeat you will discover additional pieces of text. Lots of gory, gothic goodness. Highly recommended.