There are many parents who are worried about their children spending too much time online, or on smartphones and tablets. However, learning programming may become of one of the many essential skills your child would need in his or her future life.
Rather than take technology out of their lives, there are smart gadgets out there that can help kids develop programming skills while providing them with a safe environment to explore, play and grow.
We have here 9 gadgets that provide a new form of interaction for the younger generation. Some of them are created to help your child pick up a new programming language, others, essential problem-solving skills. These smart toys are very different from the toys today’s adults grew up in but if you are a parent who want to give your child a headstart in technology, these may be the gadgets that can help.
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Kids can learn a lot about responsibility and develop their self esteem by taking care of pets. However, some children (and adults) may be allergic to hair or dander from dogs or cats. An alternative is a robotic pet that is twice as attentive and not as allergy-causing.
Ubooly is a great example. It can tell jokes and bedtime stories, even play games and even trade conversations with your child. Ubooly can also be personalized via the app for updates on games, stories, adventures and exercises. It is supported on iOS and Android platforms. [$29.95-$59.95]
Sphero 2.0 is a ball created by Orbotix that can be controlled by your phone. Nothing special there, except that when it is paired with augmented reality, you can virtually replace the ball with any other character, say an imaginary cartoon-like pet, then send commands to it. Essentially this is an attempt to control a sophisticated robotic toy with just your mobile device.
The setup is more than just for play. Sphero 2.0 can be used to teach kids math and programming in a manner that is way, way more fun than what you can find in the classroom. The ball can move up to 7 ft per second and can be controlled by touch or by tilting the paired mobile device. [$129.99]
MiP here is more of a made-for-fun toy rather than a learning toy, but oh boy, what a toy. It’s a balancing robot that you can control from your phone. You can control it manually and in real-time from your iOS or Android phone, or draw paths for it to move on, get it sparring or racing or dancing with a fellow MiP robot.
Since MiP can carry his own weight, you can try stacking up stuff onto his tray in an upright position. Every kid would love to have their own robot and with MiP its a great start. It is available in black and white. Shipping starts Spring 2014. [$119.00]
Primo is a toy to help your child to learn programming, even before they learn how to read. It is made up of three main elements: a robot called Cubetto, an interface for input of instructions, and instruction blocks which delivers instructions of how the robot should move.
The child will then place the blocks in the right order, to deliver movement commands to Cubetto to traverse the obstacles in front of it. Even without understanding algorithms and queues, a child between the age of 4 and 7 will be able to get a headstart in programming logic with this simple setup. [$281.83]
Nabi 2 is a tablet made especially for kids. It comes with a food-grade silicone (that means it is safe to gnaw on) bumper that helps protect against drops and accidental bumps, something that happens a lot when kids grab hold of gadgets. The device has a fast interface, larger-than-usual icons, parental control mode and is built for learning.
It comes with an integrated learning system known as Fooz Kids University, developed to aid in learning academic fundamentals. On top of that, it is primed for reading, art, games and photo editing, and you can even take pictures and run video calls on the tablet too. [$179.99]
While it may not be a good idea to give your child free rein of your mobile tablets and full untethered exposure to online content, it’s hard to expect parents to spend their time watching over every thing their children tap on. With the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 7.0 however, you will be giving your child a safe and conducive towards learning environment that he/she can flourish in.
It has plenty of restrictions and parental controls that will set the amount of time the device can be played with, the type of apps they have access to, a safer kid’s mode and password restrictions where necessary. The tablet even comes with front and rear cameras and expandable memory. No more fighting over who gets the tablet next. [$199.99]
Want your kid to learning programming without all the bells and whistles? Kano is a coding kit for both kids and adults and is powered by Raspberry Pi, a computer the size of a regular credit card. Out of the box, Kano can be assembled (that’s where you come in) into a working computer, minus a monitor (you need to bring your own). Don’t worry, it comes with a how-to guide.
Before your kid steps into the world of programming, it would help for him to understand the major components that make a computer run. This stripped down, lightweight representation of what makes a computer a computer is a great starting point. From there, Kano users can create games and learn to code on its open source software. [$129.00]
Bo & Yana are a duo – Bo is the explorer while Yana is the storyteller. Together these clever robots help your child from the tender age of 5 to learn visual programming and develop basic problem-solving skills. Younger users can teach the robot to play the xylophone, deliver packages, play hide-and-seek or tag, and go on treasure-hunting adventures.
The visual programming language used by the system, Scratch and Blockly was developed by MIT and Google. Older learners (12+) are encouraged to use their API to build iOS and Android applications, and to share their innovations with others online. So far, more than 10,000 robots have been pre-ordered, and the first batch has been sold out. The next batch is available Christmas 2014. [$59-$228]
Amplify is a comprehensive learning system that helps alleviate the administrative burden of teachers while giving the teachers a full-view of how their students are faring in class. Educators can prepare customized lessons, see what their students are doing on their tablet, block apps on their student’s Amplify tablet, test students in real-time (quick polls) and provide supplementary exercises for weaker students.
Students can get reminders about quizzes and homework, and deliver assignments in multimedia form. With online resources at their fingertips, students can breeze through their assignments quickly, focusing on data-sourcing skills, rather than memorizing facts for exams. [Starting from $199/yr; More on Pricing Packages]