With the coronavirus continuing unabated - despite the easing of some restrictions - we’re all spending perhaps a little more time at home than we’d like. The situation is particularly contentious for parents, who often have to juggle working from home and keeping their children engaged at the same time - no small feat. Thankfully, as well as the classic duo of video games and smartphones, there are plenty of technological gadgets and gizmos that can keep kids occupied - and even learning at the same time. Here are five of our absolute favourites, designed to keep children interested in something other than testing your patience so you can get some time to work, run errands or just relax.
5. Instax Mini 9 Camera
Photography is a great skill to have, whether you use it to take pictures of your pets, document your holidays or even develop it (!) into a career. Kids can be natural photographers, so why not let them get to grips with a delightfully analogue camera like the Instax Mini 9? The idea here is that children can learn the basics of taking photos on a dedicated device where choosing a subject and lining up the shot take time and deliberation. This inspires a more thoughtful approach that gets kids thinking, rather than the fire-and-forget action of a typical smartphone camera. There is still a nice payoff at the end though, with credit-card sized photos coming out the camera as they’re taken. Documenting your time in lockdown could be a great way to make sure it’s time well spent, and adding photographs to more traditional materials like diaries and sketches really produces a lovely multimedia experience.
4. Nintendo Switch + Labo
The Nintendo Switch is one the best games consoles for kids, with a wealth of age-appropriate games that involve adventuring, creating and learning. One of the best games is Nintendo Labo, which has your kids building amazing working toys and tools, using nothing more than a cardboard kit and on-screen instructions. There are a few different flavours available, which allow your children to build a working piano, a fishing rod, a motor bike controller and more. Each of these toys is surprisingly robust and is tons of fun to build and use, so if the Switch is one of the hottest toys in your household then this is the ultimate upgrade for creatively-minded crafty kids.
3. Aikmi Walkie Talkies for Kids
In a world of baby monitors and smartphones the humble walkie talkie feels a bit retrograde, but these little gadgets are still brilliant fun for young and old - and the perfect accompaniment to any adventure, inside or out. These walkie talkies are built to be easy to use, letting your kids talk to each other while they’re in separate rooms or to you when they’re out exploring the world (or the cupboard under the stairs). Each microphone is easy to use, has a range of around three kilometres and is small enough to carry in a child-sized hand or pack into a wee backpack.
2. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit
This one’s pretty magical. The Kano Hard Potter Coding Kit is a great introduction to programming, a useful skill that introduces kids to thinking about solving problems in a systematic way. The kit includes two main parts: an app for tablets or computers with Bluetooth, where kids can program in more than 75 step-by-step challenges, and a magic wand which can be waved to produce hundreds of different effects on-screen. The programming language here uses interchangeable blocks, so no actual typing is required, yet introduces a lot of the same concepts as “real” programming languages like Python or Java. Each corner of the app is carefully polished and themed in the Hogwarts school, so this is a particularly lovely choice for any fans of the Harry Potter series.
1. Potensic Drone with HD Camera
Drones are great fun, but they tend to be expensive, delicate and can’t fly indoors. That’s where the Potensic Drone comes in, which is small enough, cheap enough and protected enough to make flying indoors or out in the back garden a not completely crazy prospect. You can see a live video feed of the drone’s perspective on a smartphone, with easy controls for taking off and landing, following a drawn route or mimicking the movement of the smartphone. If you release the throttle control, the drone will remain at its current height, which is great for taking photos or capturing videos from a fixed perspective. This is great fun, and a lovely choice for older and trustworthy children. Do remember that you need to register your drones and your children before flying outdoors, so do check the up-to-date rules on the CAA website before getting started!
Thanks for checking out our recommendations! We hope they come in handy, and be sure to let us know any great gadgets we missed - you can reach us on Twitter @wsjudd. Thanks again and we’ll see you on the next one!
Thumbnail image credit: Cottonbro on Pexels
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