"Are we there yet?" No, but these road trip apps give you the latest high-tech solution to the age-old problem of bored kids on long car trips. They not only provide your brood with on-the-go entertainment, but they also sneak in a little learning! These apps are available for iOS and/or Android systems, and range in price from free up to $3.99, with most coming in at under a buck. Small price to pay for a little peace in the backseat!
- 123 Color: Talking Coloring Book ($0.99, all ages) Let your toddler color in the car without any risk of broken or (yuck!) melting crayons. Unlike other coloring apps, this one teaches your little one to recognize letters, numbers, shapes and colors, making use of animation, sound effects and classic children's music. Featuring different dialects and six different languages, your kid can brush up on her foreign phrases while honing fine motor skills.
- iStoryBooks (free, all ages) Keep your little learner occupied for hours while helping her learn to read. Stories featured in this app include several fairy tales and fables, as well as a few interactive alphabet books and even a selection of multicultural tales. iStoryBooks publishes a new book every two weeks, and a parents' section of the app gives you the option to add or delete titles from this interactive library.
- Road Trip Scavenger Hunt (iOS, $0.99; Android, free, all ages) "I spy a family having fun on the road!" Everyone competes in this high-tech version of I Spy to see who's the first to spot a particular word or object. The app keeps score and lets you determine a winner without any arguing. The iPhone app has over 140 different things to find; the Android version is a bit more basic, but you can add two additional game packs for $2.99 each.
- Stack the States ($0.99, all ages) Cure backseat boredom with laughing and learning! Your kid answers questions about the states in a fun, quiz show format. Younger kids start to recognize state shapes, while older ones learn the capitals. A correct answer allows players to add a state to their stacks, and the player with the highest stack is the winner! If your pride and joy's your one and only, though, there is a solo-player mode.
- License Plate Geography ($0.99, all ages) "I see a plate from a different state!" Players score points for each different state license plate they see and touch each state on a map. The states change color, which adds a bit of interactive fun and helps your little road warrior learn to associate names with locations.
- Where's My Perry? (iOS and Android, $0.99, ages 5 and above) Your little one can have fun with Perry, the wacky platypus from the Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb," and not even realize she's learning lessons in physics! Perry will guide your little physician through 80 different puzzles, helping her draw paths for water to flow while his spy gadgets help change water from solid to liquid to gas.
- Goofy Mad Libs ($3.99, ages 8 and above) The pen-and-paper "Mad Libs" game that has been cracking kids up for over 50 years is now available as an app. While vacationing, your youngster creates 23 silly stories and also learns how the different parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) are used! Sneaky, huh?
- Weird But True ($1.99, ages 8 and above) Did you know sneezes can travel 100 miles per hour? (So does this mean that if anyone sneezes in your car, the sneeze will arrive at your destination before you do?) This is one of more than 300 bite-size facts in this adaptation of the National Geographic Kids series. The books are insanely popular with elementary-aged kids, particularly boys, and the app one-ups the books with its cool sound effects and other interactive surprises.
- Voicepic (free, ages 8 and above) Got a budding photojournalist on the trip? This app allows her to snap pics of anything and everything along the way, then record voice captions describing each shot. The captioned photos can then be emailed or posted to Facebook. Encourage her photo-blog your trip as you go, keeping friends and family back home posted on all the latest news and creating a lasting record of your vacation.
- Family Car Games ($1.99, all ages) If you want to have some old-fashioned non-electronic family fun, but can't remember how, this app's for you! It refreshes your memory with instructions for 100 different car games that can be played with no equipment whatsoever. Challenge your little darling's memory, teach her new songs, and have her scramble to remember long-forgotten facts.
Once you hear the peace and quiet, or perhaps the bells, whistles and giggles coming from the backseat instead of, "Mom, he hit me!" or, "Tell her to get back on his own side!" you'll vow never again to leave home without a smartphone full of road trip apps!