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An Awesome Digital Advent Calendar to Enhance Your Holidays

By Jinny Gudmundsen, Editor of Tech with Kids Magazine

The first of December is always a big day in our household, because it means we can start our yearly tradition of opening the first day to our Advent Calendar. Over the years, the various cardboard lift-the-flap versions inevitably wear out, so I am constantly on the lookout for a new one.

For the past several years, I have been looking for a digital version that was not commercial but was special in what it offered as each day’s surprise. I had not been able to find one I could recommend — until this year. Thanks to a Twitter follower’s suggestion, I checked out Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar. It has everything I had been looking for in a digital advent calendar, with a nice combination of delightful animated scenes accompanied with nostalgic holiday music, art activities, and interactive games. Jacquie Lawson is a brilliant illustrator and animator, and her site is one of the best for beautiful e-cards.

Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar

The theme of this year’s Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar is a Victorian town at Christmas.


Charming Daily Surprises

So far, I have been charmed by every daily surprise presented in this digital advent calendar. Here is what I have experienced so far:

Day 1: Watch a band assemble in a holiday-festooned Gazebo for impromptu concert. This is an advent calendar’s version of a flash mob.



Day 2: I loved how the calendar invited me to add some color to the constantly changing city scene by designing my own stained-glass window for one of the town’s buildings.



Day 3: See an animated scene unfold where a bicycle-riding postman mixes up his delivery by dropping a package, and a cute dog saves the day.


Day 4: Play a game involving matching colored ornaments. The ornaments are beautiful to look at, and this variation of a match-three game works well in this 10-level game.


Day 5: Listen to a quintet of teddy bears playing string instruments.


Day 6: Watch as Christmas carolers sneakily assemble on a doorstep, with a new one appearing each time a person or a vehicle passes by.

Jacquie-Lawson-Carolers1 Jacquie-Lawson-Carolers2


Day 7: Peek in on a hilarious scene inside of a hat shop where a fussy feline fashionista directs her owner’s selection of a new hat.

Jacquie-Lawson-Hatstore1 Jacquie-Lawson-Hatstore2


Day 8: Be entertained by a vignette involving two dogs uniting at a train station.


Day 9: Create your own Christmas Card to appear in the stationery store’s window.

Jacquie-Lawson-Advent-2015-screenshot3 Jacquie-Lawson-Advent-2015-screenshot4

Day 10: Observe an adorable animated scene about how animals help a little girl to reach the letterbox so she can mail her Christmas card.


Day 11: Visit an art emporium and see reproductions of famous artwork depicting winter scenes.


Day 12: Contribute to the townscape by decorating a hot air balloon that you see lazily gliding over the town.



How to Download This Advent Calendar

This delightful Advent Calendar can be downloaded on the Jacquie Lawson website for $4.00. The site offers a discount for pricing if you buy more than one, making this a great gift to send all of the kids on your Christmas list.

I had a terrific experience when playing it via a browser on an iPad or from a computer. But when I tried to download the file to my computer, it didn’t work for me on either my Windows 10 or iMac since it comes in an “.air” format. I would encourage you to go the browser route.

More Holiday Fun with Apps

For more holiday fun with apps, check out this rec list:



Fun Christmas & Holiday Apps for Kids




You might also want to check out DAY 8 of the 31 Days of Play found on the Toca Boca site. I wrote that article about using holiday apps with your kids.


NPR Talks Kid-Coders with Jinny Gudmundsen

Nov. 4, 2015 by Jinny Gudmundsen

Jinny Profile2 2014

Tech with Kids’ Editor Jinny Gudmundsen

On November 3, 1015, the NPR show All Sides with Ann Fisher invited me to talk about the “hot trend” of teaching kids to code. I was Ann Fisher’s first guest in the segment, called “Tech Tuesday: Kid Coders, Robot Myths, Apple TV,” which can be listened to here.

On the show, I explained that teaching children how to write code is important because it enhances their understanding of how computer science is used to make things work. If we teach kids how coding works, they can use that understanding to build new things. As a side benefit, learning to code requires kids to think logically, and to use math and reading skills. An easy way to interest kids in coding is to turn the learning into a game.

These coding games work well with children because they employ specially-designed programming languages that are visual and intuitive to kids. Many of the recent products have been created as part of the global kid-coding movement called Hour of Code hosted by and thus they are FREE.

Now in its third year, the Hour of Code movement has reached more than 180 countries and over 100 million students. The idea is to have students try one hour of computer science class so they get a taste of what it means to learn to code. Partners include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and many more. Even President Obama is on board. Obama on Hour of CodeThe next Hour of Code events are scheduled to be held during December 7-13, 2015; and told me via email that they already have 67,000 registered events planned worldwide for 2015.

During the radio show, I discussed:

What are your favorite learning-to-code apps, websites, or games for children?

We would love to have you suggest good choices in the comments section below.