Creative apps to keep your kids busy on a rainy day

Sure it might be cold and gray outside, but your tablet can provide a world of color.

Kids these days...

Rainy days are the worst when you’re a kid.

You can’t play outside, everything inside is boring, and adults are all cranky because of the weather. But kids these days are a luckier bunch—there’s no end to the amount of entertainment available at their fingertips.

But how about some options to really get their creative juices flowing? Tablet apps can inspire all kinds of creativity, from drawing to cooking to music. Here are nine fantastic choices to try the next time the weather turns terrible.

Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch

Night Zookeeper Teleporting Touch is an inventive free drawing game kids can play online or on the iPad.

Children receive daily drawing missions that create an engaging activity book full of fun projects like “Create a poster” or “Get humans to come to the zoo.”

Other missions include making booby traps to protect the zoo from monsters, creating magical animals out of inanimate objects, and following mazes to get animals back in their pens.

Dr. Panda's Restaurant

For the aspiring chef in the family, Dr. Panda’s Restaurant (free for Android and iOS) is an obvious choice.

Players run a low-maintenance restaurant with guests popping in to order various dishes. Kids learn preparations such as shucking corn, scrambling eggs, and chopping onions—and the app even shows the proper way to hold your fingers to avoid accidents while chopping. The only thing that would make it better is if you could choose which recipes to make—or eat them yourself!

colAR Mix

Play becomes even more fun when digital meets reality, and colAR Mix (free for Android and iOS) is a great app for this experience. It does require a printer, but that’s what adds to the fun.

The first step is to visit the website and print out a coloring page. There are several offerings for the free version; you can upgrade the app to access more. Once a page is colored in, use the app to view, record, and share animated 3D versions of the images. Each page even comes with its own music.

Gomma Friends

Like colAR Mix, Gomma Friends ($1.17 for Android and $3 for iPad) crosses over from digital to physical. This app lets you create various characters and the clothing they wear, and then place them in a choice of scenes.

The goal is to choose three pieces of clothing that create the appropriate outfit for a given scene, such as a day at the beach or visiting a fairy world. The more you complete, the more gifts you get. Plus, you can even print out the characters and clothing to make real paper dolls.


Mibblio (free for the iPad) is perfect for young kids with an inclination for creating music. It’s a musically interactive storybook that features favorite tunes like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald” as well as original songs.

The app is driven by Mibblets, which are illustrated story-songs that encourage kids to read, sing, and play along on the onscreen keyboard that mimics a variety of instruments. Mibblio even helps children learn how to layer instruments to build a song.

Draw and Tell HD

Is your child a storyteller? Then Draw and Tell HD ($2 for iPad) is sure to get his or her creative juices flowing. The app offers 27 crayons, paintbrushes, colored pencils, even rainbow and glow-in-the-dark crayons for drawing and coloring.

Kids can further decorate their creations with more than 150 “stickers” of animals, food, cars, and letters. The animation creation tools even let them bring their drawings to life, record their voices, and make their own movies.

FriendStrip Kids Pro

Comics become much more interactive with FriendStrip Kids Pro ($2 for Android). This neat little app provides an extensive library of short stories ranging from birthday parties to dinosaur encounters. Kids can then take their own photos to add to the frames.

Each strip is already fully illustrated and includes text. But everything can be edited, so your budding Stan Lee can create his or her own stories from scratch.

Puppet Workshop

The only thing that would make free iPad app Puppet Workshop better is if there was a printer that could produce fully stitched yarn puppets.

As it stands, this is a super fun app that lets you craft a variety of hand puppets out of socks and gloves. Decorating options range from twine and string to buttons and felt stars. The app is free, but you can unlock the full range of goodies with an $3 in-app upgrade.

Endless Alphabet

Quite possibly the most entertaining game about letters, Endless Alphabet ($4 for iOS) is a wonderfully illustrated app full of charming goofy monsters that inspire fun while learning.

Endless Alphabet features more than 50 words and a variety of games designed to teach children their ABCs. There are no scores, failures, or time limits, so your child can play at his or her own pace.

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