10 Gadgets for the Young at Heart

November 24, 2017

1:30 pm

So you’ve got your shopping list in front of you. And you also — I hope — have every single one of TechCo’s holiday gift guides open, too. Food tech, travel tech, wearables, VR and videogames are all covered. But if you have any children or are planning to attend a gift exchange with your extended family, you’ll need one more guide: Toys for the young (or young at heart, as the case may be).

Look no further than this list of the top gadgets and gear for the younger crowd, all pulled from successful startups who’ve partered with Amazon’s Launchpad program. Tiny kids are sure to love these gifts, and they’ll appeal to most adults on some level, too. Just don’t try to interest any teenagers. I’m sure they’re too cool.

Osmo Genius Kit, $80

You’ll need an iPad to get this five-in-one game kit to work: It turns subjects like math and spelling into hands-on, visual learning games. The five subjects covered include Numbers, Words, Tangram (visual thinking), Newton (problem-solving), and Masterpiece (creative drawing).  The kit includes an iPad base, game playing pieces and stackable storage containers. The iPad, sadly, is not included.

The Exploding Kittens Card Game, $20

Billed as a “highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette,” this card game is certain to capture the attention of any devious-minded little kids you know, which, let’s face it, is all of them. It certainly got Kickstarter’s attention: This game is the most-backed Kickstarter project of all time.

Rocketbook Reusable Cloud-Connected Notebook, $22

This notebook, designed to keep children’s art from winding up in the trash, lets parents snap a photo of their kid’s masterpiece with its app. The art is then auto-cropped and color-corrected, living forever in the cloud in pristine condition even as the original work can be dry-erased to pave the way for the next work of art.

Seedling Parker Augmented Reality Bear for Toddlers, $60

Unlike clunkier toy/tech combos, this teddy bear doesn’t come with any batteries, internal wifi or camera. Instead, download the accompanying app in order to run the AR program that allows a child to interact with their stuffed animal. Caring for the bear will allow owners to unlock additional features, fostering a connection.

mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat, $40

If you’re looking for a gift for a parent, this handy car booster seat ought to do the trick. It’s a slick, easy-to-carry device that meets all the standard safety requirements. Sure, they may have their own, but when traveling with friends or in rental cars, a portable booster seat will be a must.

Sphero SPRK+ Robot, $130

Sphero’s spherical Bluetooth-connected SPRK+ robot comes with sensors like motor encoders, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer that can be programmed by a young budding developer. The LED lights make the process entertaining, and a 60-minute battery charge means it’ll keep rolling around long enough to tire a kid out. Get it before the new Star Wars movie comes out, and the robot-loving kid in your life will have a new appreciation for BB-8.

Language Builder Block Imitation Kit, $70

These blocks are ideal for “preschool, family fun, ABA or autism education or occupational therapy,” according to the company behind them. The game teaches valuable block imitation skills by encouraging players to match patterns or structures by recreating what they see themselves. It’s the intersection of problem-solving and motor skills.

You’ll get 120 Pretend Play flashcards, 40 wood blocks, and an iPad app that syncs seamlessly with the more physical aspects of the game.

The “Not Parent Approved” Card Game, $25

You may have noticed a theme in all my card game recommendations: This one and Exploding Kittens are calibrated to be the perfect gift coming from a “cool uncle.” This one is essentially Cards Against Humanity, but for kids, and has won Scholastic’s Gold Star Toy Award, meaning that it really is fairly parent-approved. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

Space Scooter Junior Ride On, $90

Look, if you’re familiar with your scooters, this one ticks all the boxes: Air suspension, check; hand brake for the rear wheel, check; cool colors, check; foldable, check. But there’s a major difference. Riders can power it by lean back and forth to pump the foot platform like a teeter-totter. It’s faster than a normal scooter which, as any kid will tell you, makes it a lot more fun.

Piper Computer Kit, $300

Finally, here’s the Tech Toy of the Year 2017: A buildable computer kit complete with a Raspberry Pi edition of Minecraft.  It comes with the 1GB of RAM and 1.2Ghz quad-core CPU it needs along with all the LED lights, motion sensors, buzzers, buttons and switches that make the build process fun for kids. It’s a great gift for any kid who wants to know more about the seemingly impenetrable black box of their laptop or phone. They’ll have to put this one together with a screwdriver.

Stay tuned for the rest of our guide throughout the season. We’ll be covering holiday guides for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the DIYer, cannabis, entrepreneur, STEM, and various others.

Read more reviews on smart home gadgets on TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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