You may already know what gadget gifts you’re vying for this holiday season, but what about tech treats for toddlers, tweens and teens?
As technology changes the way children learn, it’s important to keep up to speed (pun intended) on the best educational resources available. As learning evolves past the classroom and into the palm of their hands, children should be using technology that you, and their teachers, can feel good about.
We called on Liz Gumbinner—editor behind blogs such as Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech—for her parental present guidance on what gadgets are cool for the swing set crowd to the texting tweens this Christmas. Check out her picks below!
FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS
B. Toys Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube ($62.39): I love so many items from B. Toys, a small company founded by renegades from a big toy company with bigger ideas. This zoo-themed cube is such an amazing baby and toddler gift—and it doesn’t use a single battery.
Battat Global Glowball ($24.99): Every time your child touches a continent, the globe lights up and plays music—a very basic and cool introduction to social studies for kids starting around eight months old.
Leapfrog LeapPad 2 Explorer ($99): This was the device parents were scrambling to get their hands on last holiday, and now it’s even better with new updates. It encourages creative thinking in early learners, and it’s reassuring to know that kids don’t have unfettered access to app purchases or the Internet in general.
B Toys Symphony in B ($49.99): More than just a musical toy, this is a terrific learning activity that helps familiarize little kids with instruments. Be warned: Older siblings are apt to want to borrow it.
VTech Innotab 2S Learning App Tablet ($99): This tablet is a huge favorite of so many parents, and with good reason. It truly grows with your child as they evolve from basic word games and coloring programs to managing photos or family emails.
Xbox Kinect National Geographic TV ($29.99): If you have an Xbox system with Kinect, this offering from Nat Geo is part educational nature show, part interactive game. It lets kids virtually travel around the world, getting to know more about the planet and its inhabitants.
Crayola Color Studio HD iPad ($25.69): Griffin and Crayola have collaborated brilliantly on this app that allows kids to get creative. I love that it can adjust from easier projects for young kids to more free-form drawing for older kids. Plus, it’s a bonus to see their masterpieces animate when finished.
Disney Pixar Brave for Nintendo DS ($19.99): Hooray for games with strong female characters! Still, this action-adventure game isn’t just for girls. I hardly know a kid who doesn’t want to battle enemies, uncover secrets and break a magical curse. Bonus points if you can master a medieval Scottish accent along the way.
Discovery Bay Games duo Pop ($38.59): I’m such a fan of this iPad-enabled game that I love playing with my kids. Download the free app and use the hand controllers to buzz in and answer trivia questions. Play with four individual players or in teams with bigger groups. The thing I love most is that while even younger kids enjoy it, it’s a great way to get teens to the table for family game night with very little protest.
Apple 16GBiPad ($399.99): Mark my words—in a few years, every kid will be carrying a tablet to school instead of a backpack full of textbooks. Load it up with e-books and learning apps or bookmark sites like Khan Academy that offer educational videos on just about any subject. And you know… a little Angry Birds Star Wars won’t hurt anyone either every now and then.