Tech Stuff

As important as it is to get kids up and outside, the fact is that we live in a high-tech world and it’s critical that our children develop a high level of comfort will all things electronic. Here are a few of our new faves.

Marbotic Smart Letters (Marbotic)

marbotic - Smart-LettersThis interactive alphabet toy cleverly combines physical and digital play by combining traditional (and very beautifully crafted) wooden letters with the touchscreen technology that’s as close as your tablet. Just download the (free) app, place the letters on your device, and start ooh-ing and ahh-ing. These smart letters will help your child recognize shapes and letters, learn letter sounds and patterns, build vocabulary, learn to read and write. Comes with 26 letters and is available in eight languages (American English, British English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Danish). And since you aren’t accessing wi-fi or Bluetooth, it’s 100% internet-safe. For ages 5+. About $57.

Ozobot Evo (Ozobot)

ozobotWe reviewed one of the first Ozobots several years ago. And wow, have these cute little guys evolved! They still look pretty much the same, but they can do so, so much more. This Ozobot, Evo, loves to show off his tricks, including follow, music, and escape. Not snazzy enough for you? You can code Evo yourself with the built-in OzoBlocky code or manually (and in many ways more entertainingly). Got friends with Ozobots? You can connect with them online via the free app (but all your devices will need to be Bluetooth 4.0 compatible to work). Includes Evo, USB charging cable, a playfield, one skin, a carrying pouch, color code markers, and more. Ages 8+. Under $100.

ROXx 2s (A-Champs)

ROXsThe goal of ROXs (pronounced “rocks”) is to get kids away from the screens (where, according to some experts, they spend 5-7 hours every day) and outside. ROXs are round devices that can be placed on the ground, hung in a tree, or worn on your body. You and your soon-to-be-more-active kids can play tap-and-go games, target throw, memory games, do movement challenges, and play a number of variations on the old classic, Tag, including Zombie Tag. Better yet, why not come up with your own game? For ages 5+. Prices vary.

The Battle of Submarines (Beyond Screen)

game of submarinesIf you played Battleship as a kid, you’ll love The Battle of Submarines. The Red Navy and the Blue Navy each have a formidable fleet of submarines deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean. As with Battleship, your mission as the commander is to torpedo the other side’s subs. At first, you’ll be firing at random. But eventually, you’ll learn where your opponent’s subs. To play this game, you’ll need a Beyond Tablet, which is a very large smart tablet that has no display screen. Wait, what?! Yep, no display. The Beyond Tablet senses and interacts with a variety of games and devices. In this case, you lay out the game “map,” which uses RFID tags and very sophisticated touch sensors to allow you to arrange your subs and launch your torpedoes. You can play against another human player, or, in single-player mode, against the game. Ages 6+. About $16 (not including the Beyond Tablet).

Music Cube (Beyond Screen)

music cubeThis game allows players to appreciate and create music—even if you aren’t a musician. Using the Beyond Tablet device, lay out the map. Then use the included cubes and the maps piano-type keyboard to compose the next great symphony, which you can upload to the cloud to share with family, friends, or the New York Philharmonic. This game helps kids and adults learn about music, sounds, and composition and is great for inspiring creativity. It’s for one or two players, ages 3+. Prices vary.

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