Fun(damentals) for Kids

With the holidays just around the corner and Black Friday just passing, much of the technology hype for children right now revolves around holiday gift giving.  Here are a few more top tech toys and gadgets that can combine technology, learning, and fun.


Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash is a new twist to the original game Scrabble.  There are several games, both individual and group-based, that can be played with the 5 SmartLink digital letter tiles.  In the traditional game, each player has 60 seconds to make as many words and earn the most points using between 3 and 5 letters that are given on the SmartLink tiles.  When the user links the tiles together to make a word,  it will approve, track, and score the word.  Incorrect words and with duplicates will not be recognized as words and will not count toward the total score.

The second game with the tiles has the user create 5 letter words within 60 seconds with the letter changing after each correct word.  The third game is a multi-player game where the users have to build a word out of all the letters as fast as they can and then it gets passed on to another player.  If the timer buzzes and you have the SmartLink titles, then you are out of the game.


Fijit is the “Furby” for 2011.  Made by Mattel, this is a robot friend designed for girls.  The soft skin of the robot makes the robot “cuddlier” than what we perceive as the traditional robot.  There are four different Fijit’s on the market and all of them have distinct personalities.  For a child to interact with their Figit, they just need to speak the key phrases.  They then react to touch, dance to songs, and have voice recognition where they will respond to conversations intuitively.  The beat detection allows the Figit to know whether it should dance slow or fast depending on the beat of the song.  She also comes with her own songs that she sings and dances to on command.  The future of this device also touts interaction with the use of iPad apps.  While on the outset this device is definitely more toy than learning, it is also could be  an introduction to get young girls interested in robotics.

Tech meets Silly Bandz

Silly Bandz, the rubbery jelly bracelets in the shapes of animals, rock instruments, and sporting accessories were a bit hit this time last year.  This year, they have morphed to include a tech-edge.  The new hip jelly bracelet is called the Skanz Jr.  This jelly bracelet is about 1 inch thick and includes both a QR code, a bar code that can be scanned by a Smart Phone, and a numeric code.  The bracelet can be used as a fashion statement and as a fun tech age-appropriate social networking tool for tweens.  Each bracelet has its own QR code already imprinted into the bracelet when you buy it with eight different colors to choose from.  Then, the child logs-in with parent permission and consent via email to edit their own Skanz homepage.  This page is a child friendly version of a social networking site.  No personal identification information can be collected or stored on this website.  It is more a list of favorites and likes and dislikes.  Without the QR code or secret numeric code the child’s page is inaccessible to other users.  When a friend scans the bracelet with a QR code reader, the child’s ‘social networking’ site appears.  Cool, hip, and a center piece for playground conversation.

Learning, fun, and gift giving can be all combined with the advancement of these new tech gifts this holiday season.

Article By Laura Ketcham-VanHellemont

Picture By Jennie Faber

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