A lot of people are dead against the idea of exposing children to gadgets. But like it or not, kids will be kids, and they will always be attracted to gizmos and gadgets.
So why restrict them when you can use this as an opportunity to let them learn using things they are interested in? Learning doesn’t have to be boring and when you make learning fun, children tend to learn faster.
These gadgets are not cheap of course, no thanks to the exchange rate at the moment and expensive shipping fee. However, these toys are so versatile and have endless possibilities, and they could keep your children entertained for very long periods of time.
Just think about the number of programs they could write with Kano Computer, the number of circuits they can make with Circuit Scribe, the different type of objects in the house that children can connect to the Mesh Tags, the endless virtual reality world (more can be found for free on YouTube) they can discover with View-Master VR, and all the things young children can learn using Osmo.
Got your interest, didn't we? Then here are the details of the edutainment gadgets that'll bring some fun into learning.
Kano Computer - US$149.99 (RM610)
Kano is “a computer and coding kit for all” that lets children and even adults (from ages 6 to 81) assemble a computer from scratch and learn basic coding skills. It comes bundled with a Raspberry Pi, a case, wireless keyboard, cables, Wi-Fi dongle and speaker.
Assemble them together, and start coding – Kano says that it is “as simple and fun as Lego”. “Draw art, make music, code games, like Minecraft, Snake and Pong.”
Retailing at US$149.99 (about RM610), the Kano Computer Kit can be pre-ordered at the product’s website. It delivers to Malaysia by June 2016 for an additional US$25 (about RM100).
Mattel View-Master VR device - US$29.99 (RM120)
Remember the View-Master that we all used to play as a kid? It’s been decades since the first View-Master was made and Mattel is giving it a major upgrade.
The company has partnered with Google to create a virtual reality version of View-Master. On top of looking at things in a new dimension, viewers can also interact with the virtual reality world.
The View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack starts from US$29.99 (about RM120). The device is to be paired with a smartphone. Additional experience pack are also available so your children can explore the space, National Geographic wildlife, and more.
Circuit Scribe - from US$24.99 (RM100)
This is a perfect toy for parents who are into electronics to teach their children a thing about two about circuits. Circuit Scribe is basically a ballpoint pen that is filled with non-toxic conductive silver ink. Children can easily make circuits simply by drawing and connecting various modules together. Learning about circuits has never been more fun.
The most basic set is a Lite Kit that consists of a conductive pen, two coin-cell batteries, and a bi-LED module costs US$24.99 (about RM100), but if you would if you’re just starting out and wish to learn more, a Basic Kit + Workbook bundle is more useful. A Basic Kit + Workbook bundle costs US$59.99 (about RM245). It ships to Malaysia from US$18.34 (about RM75).
Mesh Tags - from US$49.99 (RM205)
There are plenty of “smart” devices in the market right now but you don’t have to buy a new gadget just to stay connected. Let your children make your everyday household items “smart” with the Mesh Tags. As its name suggests, Mesh Tags are tags you can connect to various items around the house. There’s an app that lets kids program what each tag can do.
For example, you can use Mesh Tag to create a LED tag that glows in different colours to indicate the different weather depending on the colour of the light. You can also use it as a button to use as a remote trigger for your smartphone camera, use it as a motion detector to automatically snap a picture when it detects motion, use it as a “move tag” so when you swing your sword toy with a tag attached, it makes a cool swishing sound, and many more.
Osmo for iPad - US$79 (RM320)
If your kids are attached to the iPad, don’t just let them waste the time on games and videos. The Osmo for iPad brings fun to live by turning into the table to the “playing field”.
There are five games on board like Numbers to encourage children to add, count, multiply and such; Tanagram that helps children build shapes using puzzle pieces; Words to help with spelling and learning of new words/names; Newton drawing game that let children manipulate falling objects simply by drawing or placing an object in front of the screen; and Master Piece that help children draw beautiful images.
An Osmo starter kit (with a base and reflector, and Words and Tanagram pieces) costs US$79 (about RM320) and ships to Malaysia for US$20 (about RM80).