Gift Guide: Cool tech toys for kids

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

NEW YORK:

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:

Hands-on tech

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.

Makey Makey

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.

Mec­cano sets

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.

Il­lu­m­i­craft

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

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