We also looked at a bunch of other hot new toys with a techie twist for kids of all ages, from 3 to adult. Here are some highlights:
- VTech Cogsley Learning Robot, $40 (ages 3 to 6) is a sturdy little robot that moves, talks, sings and teaches. Children can tap this cute robot on the head to wake him up, then select a learning game to play. Cogsley responds to a twist of the ears, eyes and nose-─and chips can be dropped into a slot above his nose to answer questions or learn new info. Two big pluses for parents: auto shutoff to conserve batteries when kids wander away, and volume control to preserve sanity.
- Crayola Digital Light Designer, $60 (ages 6 and older) is a dark plastic dome-─but when turned on is illuminated by a spinning array of LED lights. Kids can create colorful designs on the dome by using the included stylus (powered by two AAA batteries), save up to 50 of their favorites and animate their drawings or play one of the 50 games included. One drawback: the motor is pretty loud so keeping it on at night may disrupt sleep.
- Mattel Loopz Shifter Game, $45 (ages 7 and older) is an ingenious electronic device with built-in memory and reflex games. Players pass their hands into the loops and follow increasingly complex patterns of lights and sounds and this updated version allows them to reconfigure the loops into different shapes. The games increase in difficulty and it takes practice and concentration to do well, but it is a lot of fun─especially with another player. Loopz Shifter remembers high scores and gives feedback and encouragement, and it will really get kids moving.
If you want a full-on learning toy for kids (and want your iPad back for yourself!), consider one of the new kids’ tablets: the Leapfrog LeapPad 2, $100 and the VTech InnoTab 2, $80.