RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
As many Americans get ready for those long drives to a relative's house for Thanksgiving dinner, planning may include figuring out how to entertain the kids. Some families may sing in the car, but many kids now prefer smartphones and tablets.
Here to suggest some apps for kids to play in the backseat is Mark Frauenfelder and his nine-year-old daughter, Jane. They host a podcast called "Apps for Kids" on the website BoingBoing.net.
JANE FRAUENFELDER: Good morning.
MARK FRAUENFELDER: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: I'm wondering how you two got started doing your father daughter podcast?
FRAUENFELDER: Well, we were seeing all these great apps on the iPhone that nobody else was noticing.
FRAUENFELDER: My wife doesn't think it's like the greatest thing for us to always be doing iPhone games, so now it's like when my wife says, Jane, you're using the iPhone too much, Jane can say that she's conducting research.
MONTAGNE: And does that work still?
FRAUENFELDER: Yeah, it's a good thing because that way we kind of just get to do them for work.
MONTAGNE: Well, what would you like to start with as a recommendation?
FRAUENFELDER: Well, "Story Dice" is a fun game.
FRAUENFELDER: It's a simulation. It looks like you have a set of dice that you can roll on a virtual table. And instead of the dots representing numbers on the faces of each dice, there are little icons. And so you roll them until you get like a frying pan, a bicycle and a bowling pin. What you do is then you have to create a story that incorporates all of those elements into the story.
FRAUENFELDER: And so what we like to do is take turns, each of us telling a story that uses all of those elements. And then, we as a family, vote on this one.
MONTAGNE: Jane, can you give us an example of what kind of story you might have told?
FRAUENFELDER: Yeah. Like, one day, there was a kid on a school bus and he was carrying a soccer ball. Then it flew out of the school bus, so he had to chase it. Then he met a magical unicorn that gave him a piece of toast.
MONTAGNE: Well, that sounds pretty good.
FRAUENFELDER: That's the short version. We usually make them so they last about three minutes.
MONTAGNE: I gather also that virtual pets are making a comeback. Tell us about the virtual pet app on your list.
FRAUENFELDER: "Mobbles" is a game where you got to take care of your Mobble every day. Wash it, play with it, clean it. And it's actually a lot of work. But what I think the most fun part of the game is, is you can catch Mobbles. If you're on the road somewhere, like, maybe you're in Arizona, then you can get like a Mobbles from that zone.
FRAUENFELDER: It's using the GPS to show you where you are. So you see a map and it will show you Mobbles on that map. So if you are driving in that direction, you can snag that Mobble and add it to your menagerie.
FRAUENFELDER: Yeah. Actually, I've been forgetting to play for a while so now all my Mobbles are kind of like sick and tired and dying.
MONTAGNE: Oh. I hope this conversation changes that.
MONTAGNE: Tell us about another app that makes the time go by on a long road trip.
FRAUENFELDER: There's also a postcard. You make a postcard, and then you can actually send it to somebody in the mail. Like, they make a real copy of it, then they send it to the person you want to send it to in the mail.
FRAUENFELDER: So when were on vacation, you can actually send a physical postcard to someone that uses a photo that you took on your iPhone. It has extra features, like you can add a scent. So if you're taking a picture of a beach, it has kind of a saltwater smell, I think or tropical flowers.
FRAUENFELDER: Yeah. You could then add a small picture of the GPS to show where you are.
FRAUENFELDER: And it costs a couple of bucks, I think.
MONTAGNE: Yeah, this is called, the formal name is "Postcard on the Run." Well, this sounds like you will have plenty to do on the road. Thank you both very much for joining us.
FRAUENFELDER: You're welcome.
FRAUENFELDER: Thanks, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Mark Frauenfelder and Jane Frauenfelder, his daughter, host the a podcast "Apps for Kids" on the website BoingBoing.net.