Gift Guide: Cool tech toys for kids
Looking for a cool tech gift for a kid in your life? There’s no shortage of fun and fairly educational items these days. New toys for the holidays include little robot friends full of personality and magnetic blocks that snap together to teach the basics of computer programming. Here are some toys designed to keep kids entertained without sacrificing on education:
Tablet screens and apps haven’t gone away, but they’re just not enough on their own. With these toys, kids can create and build with their hands, not just a tablet. Osmo. As kids arrange magnetic blocks or puzzle pieces, their creations show up on the iPad thanks to a mirror attached to the tablet’s camera. By arranging blocks, for instance, kids put together lines of code to guide an on-screen monster. Another game teaches entrepreneurial and math skills by letting kids run their own pizza shop. The base set costs $30. You then buy add-ons, such as coding for $50 and the pizza business for $40. It works only with iPads for now.
You connect one end to a computer’s USB port and the other to any material that conducts electricity, such as coins or even a banana. Kids can then turn bananas into keyboards and pencil drawings into controls for video games. The basic set costs $25, though for $50, you get additional clips and connector wires.
This is for the tween or young teen who is handy with a wrench and has a lot of time. Even the trio of smaller Micronoids sets ($40) require a decent amount of time and significant motor skills. The larger models, such as the $140 Meccanoid 2.0, can take the better part of a day to construct. Once assembled, these robots can be programed to dance, play games and interact with each other.
Don’t let the girly colors or rainbow stickers turn you off. The $20 kit combines science and crafting to introduce basic circuitry. Projects include light-up diaries, jewelry organizers, smartphone speakers and picture frames.
Code This Drone
Software company Tynker and drone maker Parrot have joined forces to create this kit, which includes a drone and a one-year subscription to Tynker’s education service. The kit costs $100 to $150 depending on the drone selected. It teaches the basics of coding through games played with an app-controlled mini drone. Kids can program their own flight plan of flips and turns, or build their own game to send an on-app through an obstacle course, as the real drone mirrors the movements.
Coding for preschoolers?
Parents with dreams of future high-tech careers are eager for their children to learn computer programming. And some toy makers say it’s never too early to introduce coding concepts, even if a child is still in diapers. Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar. Kids as young as 3 can “write” code by snapping together a $50 toy caterpillar. Each section signifies a command, such as “go straight” or “play sounds.” —AP
This photo provided by Anki shows the Cozmo Memory Match game. Whether you’re looking for something educational or a toy that’s just for fun, there are a lot of choices for the holidays. — AP
Photo shows Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-aPillar, which introduces basic coding concepts by letting preschoolers assemble segments that each tells the caterpillar to do something different, such as “turn left” or “play sound.” — AP