“Legends of Chima” is a free LEGO game at ChimaOnline.com. All you need is a computer and the right browser. Google Chrome worked fine for us, but using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, gave us a message saying we needed an upgrade — even though we were already using the latest version.
“3D Game Programming for Kids,” by Chris Strom; $36 from oreilly.com. Here’s a great system for teaching you to program, no matter what your age.
All you need is a computer and preferably the Chrome web browser, though anything except Internet Explorer will do. The author explains things so well that in literally a few minutes, Joy had created a colorful ball and cube on her screen and was able to animate them.
You can do a lot with LEGO blocks, but surely nothing more remarkable than what’s pictured in these two books from No Starch Press. Should keep the kids busy over the holidays. – “Beautiful Lego” ($30), by Mike Doyle, is all pictures of completed projects, and beautiful they are, everything from a haunted house that seems to be falling apart, to a fantastic city floating in space. – “More Amazing Vehicles ($20), by Kuipers and Zamboni. Using step-by-step photos and instructions, the authors show us how to build anything from a Formula One race car to a fork-lift truck.
iStory Time is a free Apple app with children’s books. The first four books: Madagascar, Robin Hood, the Smurfs and Ice Age, are free:. After that it’s $3 a book. You can have the books read to you or read them yourself. The Robin Hood book comes with a history of the time.
“YAKiT” is a free app for iPhone/iPad/iPod for adding speech to photos. The photoscan come from your Facebook album, your photo gallery, or photos you take at that moment. We took Joy’s face, added moving lips and used Bob’s voice to record a funny message. Changing the pitch made it come out high and squeaky. We also made a talking lamb. If you don’t have an iOS gadget, JibJab.com is similar. Add your own face to animated greeting cards with funny messages.
TelltaleGames.com has adventure games from the 1990s on up. The old ones have been jiggered a bit to play on modern computers. They have two versions of our all-time favorite, “MonkeyIsland,” a game that can take you weeks to finish if you don’t use the free strategy guide available from a Google search. Follow Guybrush Threepwood as he fights his way to victory against pirates, ghosts and strange creatures. Lots of humor here. All games are downloads for PC and Mac, starting at $5 and going up to $35.