Most of us are familiar with Advent calendars. The most common form has scenes with windows numbered 1 through 24, with a window opened each day from December first until Christmas Eve. In these modern times, there are lots of Advent calendars available for iPhone and iPad, and it is fairly easy to find them. Advent officially starts tomorrow, on Sunday 2nd December, but most Advent calendars will start today.
I was lucky enough to win this one in a code drop on the JustKidsApps Facebook page, but it is one I’d be happy to pay for as it is simply beautiful. I love the enchanting illustrations, the music, the stories, and the activities, which my children and I can enjoy together.
The above is a sample of the quality of Viviane Dommann’s beautiful illustrations. Each window reveals a scene, some of which are very detailed, with lots to look at and discuss. Some scenes have some Interactive spots that trigger sound effects. After you have explored the scene, you can turn the page by swiping to reveal a story, poem, carol, or activity. There is no narration, but parents and siblings can enjoy “together time” reading together. Christmas-themed background music plays throughout the app. You can turn this off Settings>General>Advent 2012. By default, you can only open each window on its date in December, but the App settings also allow you to override this, which is how I previewed the contents. If you’d like to try before you buy, try out the free version – Advent Calendar 2012 LITE. There are no external links in this app. Publisher: JustKidsApps – Katrin Draemann Barothy. Price: $4.49 (Currently on sale for 99 cents) iPad only.
This advent calendar tells the story of the Nativity of Christ through a daily scripture passage, each a sentence or two long. The illustrations are a fun cartoon style. There are no interactive elements in the illustrations or text, but there are occasional options to hear traditional carols where they fit with the text. Each page has a link to an advertisement for an eBook of the nativity. Each page unlocks on its corresponding date in December. There is an external link to another Nativity app by the same publisher. Publisher: DCT Technologies, inc. Price: Free. iPad only
This free Advent calendar has an illustration and verse from the Bible behind each of the days, telling the story of the Nativity. It is easy to use and free. It has languages for several languages. There are a few external links to social networking and the iTunes store in the information section. Publisher: BarcelonaMultimedia. Price: Free. Universal.
This is a fun calendar by Australian artist and illustrator, Binny Talib. You’ll find a different activity every day. Today it was playing different records at different speeds. Other days have activities such as picture puzzles, decorating a tree, or scratch-and-reveal picture surprises. I love the quirky illustrations. Activities unlock daily, but you can unlock them in the information section. There are links to the publisher’s website and iTunes in the information section, but the link to that section is very subtle and there are no ads or in-app purchases. This app is also available for android. See the links on the Publisher’s website at www.binny.com.au Publisher: Binny Talib. Price: Free. Universal
Caritas is the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia. It helps the poorest of the poor throughout the world, regardless of race, politics or religion, by delivering long-term development programs. Using the Jesse Tree, Caritas’ Advent calendar focuses on prayer and reflection as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Each day reveals a story with pictures and video, with prompts to reflect, pray and act. If you feel your family is getting a bit carried away with the craziness of the season, this would be a good thing to do as a family each day. This calendar starts on Sunday 2nd December. You can also access the calendar via the web on the Caritas website at www.caritas.org.au/advent There are external links to the Caritas website. Publisher: Caritas Australia. Price: Free. Universal
There are so many more Advent calendars in the App Store than I could list here. All you need to do is type “Advent” in the search box, and you can see for yourself. Just be aware than many of the free ones will have advertising (that usually disappears if you turn off Internet access) and that some may have in-app purchases.
Some Advent calendars offer a “free” app every day. While these sound like great fun, you need to be very careful before letting your kids loose with this kind of calendar. Many of the free games are actually freemium, which is a newish term to describe games that you download for free, but which you then need to make in-app purchases to keep playing. You also won’t know in advance which games are on offer, so you don’t know if they are age and content-appropriate for your children. If you do get one of these calendars, turn off in-app purchases in your Restrictions, and set the password so that you need to enter it every time you make a purchase. Oh, and make sure the kids din’t know your password!
If you find a great Advent Calendar app, or any other festively themed app you’d love to share, please leave a comment below or on the Facebook Group. I’d love to hear about it.