Update: Fixed app links!
There are already a billion ways in which kids and young adults can make use of Chromebooks for creativity, school, and even home life. Unfortunately, there hasn’t yet been a way to explore all of those ways to date, aside from maybe perusing the Family apps and games sections of the Google Play Store or viewing our Family section of news, updates, and how-to’s on Chrome Unboxed.
Earlier this year, however, I discovered a secret project the Chromebook development team had been working on called ‘Kids Magazine’ before it was pulled shortly afterward. It’s a new navigation tab of the built-in Explore app called ‘Discover’ that would help aspiring artists and programmers connect with and get the most out of the apps, games, and resources available to them that catered more toward their demographic, especially out of box when they first buy their device. Internally, Google is calling this ‘Chrome OS for Kids’ as evidenced by its browser tab title.
Last night, I was digging through some page source code for the web-based Help app, and I happened upon a new link that fully displays the aforementioned Discover section. You can view this right now by pasting the link found below into your browser. This ‘Kids Magazine’ of offerings is actually ready to go this moment, or so it seems, which indicates that it’s likely going to be rolling out very shortly.
The site is segmented out into two individual pages – one for art and design and another for game development. Each has a video introduction with a host that is meant to take the user along a journey to explore the resources that follow – for Art and design, Sophia Chang, a prominent collaborator with a-list brands such as Samsung, Nike, Adidas, Apple, the NBA, Footlocker, HBO, and more. For Game development, the host is Jessie Schell – CEO of Schell Games, the largest full-service education and entertainment game development company in the United States.
Google’s goal is to provide a safe, friendly, and approachable guided tour of popular apps, games, and tools that parents can use for their children, or that children and young adults can discover on their own in order to use Chromebooks to learn and grow in their creative and educational journeys. I believe that this is a great way to do it, and I hope that the company continues to flesh this out as time passes.
Here’s the list of what can be discovered so far – note though that there are no perks or discounts available on this page. Many of the items listed here now make an appearance on the homepage of the Google Play Store when viewed from a Chromebook because Google recently vowed to contextually surface relevant content specific to its laptops and delivered on it. All items on the new Discover tab will list an age they are most appropriate for as well. Let me know if any of these are new to you, or if any of this sounds exciting for your family!
Explore art and design on your Chromebook
Discover apps to draw, design, and create 3D models on your Chromebook.From character design to fashion and industrial design, there are so many great tools to bring your ideas to life on your Chromebook. Here are a few tools to get you started!
- Toca Builders – Drop, spray, smash, and lift blocks to build new objects—a house, lamp, or maybe a banana? You’ll get help from 6 crafty and playful characters.
- Tinkercad – Tinkercad is an easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. Create, design, and make anything!
- Chrome Canvas – Express yourself with natural brushes and lots of colors. Canvas lets you create art with a beautiful set of brushes, images, and layers.
- Infinite Painter – Draw with more than 200 tools like realistic pencils and paint brushes using layers and symmetry, then play back your artwork in a time-lapse video.
The web is full of amazing ideas and designs by artists around the world. Spark your own creativity by checking out others’ creations and learning how they got started.
- Bauhaus Exhibit – Google Arts & Culture – Visit the “Bauhaus Everywhere” collection on Google Arts & Culture to learn about the visionary school that inspired many modern designers.
- DIY.org – Discover and learn a wide range of skills in science, tech, art, music, building and engineering. Tackle hands-on projects and earn skill badges as you go.
- Tinkering Studio @ The Exploratorium – Tinker using materials and tools found at home. Design animals, craft animations, create skylines, and more.
Explore game design on your Chromebook
Get started now. Discover apps to build games on your Chromebook
There are lots of great tools for creating games on Chromebook. Whether you’re just getting started with logic blocks or already writing your own code, here are a few great apps to help you build the game of your dreams!
- Bloxels – Anyone can build a video game. Create characters with unique powers, design your own art, and share your game with the world.
- Scratch – Program your own stories, games, and animations, and share with others. You’ll think creatively and work together!
- Tynker – Play games and solve fun challenges to learn to code. Build games, fly drones, or create web sites.
Ready. Set. Game!
There are plenty of great games that you can play on a Chromebook. Here are some recommendations.
- Mini Metro – Design subway maps for cities around the world. Draw lines between stations and start your trains running. Keep the city moving as long as you can!
- Hidden Folks – Search for hidden folks in interactive landscapes. Open tent flaps, cut through bushes, slam doors, and poke crocodiles! Find targets to unlock the next area.
- Khan Academy Kids – Colorful characters guide you through a learning experience. Get help with reading, writing, math, and more.
- Interland – Learn about internet safety through four fun, challenging lands and levels. Part of the Be Internet Awesome program.