Child’s play can be full of wonder and delight, and it can help developing minds grow to be inquisitive, innovative and creative. Here are six smart and fun tech toys that encourage kids to think, invent and use their imagination while they play.
Bild it and they will play
Bring out the inner Spielberg in young directors with the OgoSport’s Animate IT kit, a kit which includes a webcam and a box of eyeballs, arms, wheels, curly-springy thingys and other figure pieces a la cooler and hipper Mr. Potato Head, that combines construction play with stop-motion animation moviemaking. Each kit contains Animate It! Express software, developed by Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. With parents’ permission, kids can upload their creations onto the OgoBILD Shorts online platform (http://ogobild.com/shorts), that gives kids an opportunity showcase their stop-motion animation movies. Available on Amazon or www.ogosport.com , $35 without the camera or $70 with camera. Recommended age 6+.
STEM-ulating gifts for girls
Tired of princess-themed toys for the girls? Give the next female STEM star inspiration to build to new heights with K’NEX Brands Mighty Makers, a line of STEM-themed (science, technology, engineering, and math) engineering toys for girls designed to inspire and empower girls through creative, story-based building sets. Created by an all-female marketing and design team, the Mighty Makers line is geared towards girls 7+. Each set features colorful rods and connectors and follows the life and career (marine biology, mechanical engineering, aviation, etc) of the included figure. Available at knex.com and toy retailers everywhere, $19.99-$59.99.
Lit bricks for bright kids
Light up the face of an aspiring engineer with Laser Pegs, the inventors of LED-lighted construction sets that combine to create multiple models — such as a monster truck, helicopter, space fighter or dinosaur — with a single building set. The sets feature tinted brick colors and bright LED lights inside that strobe to noise cues such as the beat of music, voices or clapping, to further excite the senses and imagination. Kits recommended for kids and adults, ages 5 and up. Available at Laserpegs.com, Amazon.com, Toysrus.com, Walmart.com, and other national retailers, $16.99-$59.99.
Some kids listen better than others, and with the Kidz Gear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, they will listen very well, and talk back, with the boom mic. Designed for home or school, the child-sized over-the-head earphones, available in pink or blue, charge up with the included USB cable and connect easily via Bluetooth 4.0 to iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Androids, computers, tablets and a variety of devices for high-quality stereo sound. The wireless design means no more tangled cables — or devices pulled off of tables when kids forget to disconnect. The removable mic is ideal for language learning programs and activities such as interactive games. Available at www.gearforkidz.com, $59.99, with free carry bag.
A voice a mother could love
For any kid that wants to be pitch perfect, Singtrix Personal Bundle, by the makers of Guitar Hero, brings voice correction to your living room, or your next karaoke party, so that bad singers sound good and good singers sound great. This next-generation portable karaoke machine works with any music and any smartphone, tablet, PC or other audio device, for listening with headphones or a speaker system. The Personal Bundle features a “Studio” unit with more than 300 quality vocal effects and a control that creates instant four-part harmonies using your own voice, so that anyone can sound like a rock star. Available at TOYS “R” US and other national retailers, $229.00.
To infinity and beyond
Make the most of video game screen time with Disney’s Infinity, and its latest 3.0 Edition – Star Wars. This imagination-sparking video game allows kids to create their own worlds and explore fantastical worlds, set out on story-driven adventures and battle intergalactic forces, and expand their imaginations while embodied as one of their favorite Star Wars characters. Backwards compatible with the Infinity 1.0 and 2.0 versions, the heroes and villains of Star Wars can mingle with other characters from the Marvel Super Heroes or Disney Pixar collections. Play at home on your game console or download a digital version (soon for 3.0) for PC, iPhone, or iPad. Starter pack includes 3.0 video game, 3.0 Edition base, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker Star Wars figures, Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Play Set piece, and a Web code card. Toys R Us and other national retailers, $64.99.