It’s getting freakin’ cold in the Northern Hemisphere again, which means only one thing: Santa and his team of elves are beginning preparations for their big day out later this month.
It also means Google is rolling out its Santa Tracker goodies again, offering kids enough entertainment throughout December that parents can enjoy a short break from having yet another rewritten Christmas list thrust in front of their face.
Google has been dusting off its Santa Tracker for the last 13 years, giving children a fun, educational, and interactive way to celebrate the holiday season and count down to Christmas.
The experience — available via desktop web, mobile web, Android app, and Android TV — kicks off with the opening of Santa’s village on December 1, offering immediate access to games, a learning experience about holiday traditions around the world, and a Code Lab teaching kids basic coding skills.
You’ll also see the Advent calendar, which unlocks a new game or experience each day, although the December 1 offering is merely a link to the latest version of the Santa Tracker app for Android. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to hit the mobile website as there’s no iOS app for Google’s Santa Tracker.
The real action of course begins on December 24 when the Tracker itself goes live, allowing Santa fans around the world to have fun following his progress with help from Google Maps.
New with this year’s Tracker is an app-only game called Santa Snap, in which you fly your jetpack-powered elf around the world to take photos of famous landmarks and help Santa on his travels.
Another new game is Santa’s Canvas where kids can show off their artistic side, though it sounds like the most fun is going to be had with what Google describes as “the largest multiplayer snowball fight ever.” Look out for that.
Similar to previous years, Google is also giving teachers the chance to make use of educational holiday-themed games, with lesson plans and new video tutorials to help teachers and students get the most out of the materials.
If all that isn’t enough for your littl’uns, then point them in the direction of NORAD’s Santa Tracker, which has been following Santa on his deliveries for more than 60 years, and now offers lots of fun and features online since partnering with Microsoft in recent years.