Boy, they sure don’t make toys how they used to!
Case in point, the three “toys” showcased in this featured video. Let’s give a bit of a rundown shall we?
The first is Kano, a $150 build-your-own-computer that allows 6-14 year old kids construct their own basic computer and create uncomplicated programs for it.
If your child is into technology, this would be the perfect gift for them. Not only does it teach some electrical and engineering skills, but it also holds their hand through some basic programming lessons. Not every kid will be thrilled with the troubleshooting process associated with perfecting software, so it is somewhat true that this kind of toy isn’t for everyone.
That said, I think that in a world based on technology it can’t hurt to give kids a way to interact with the things that essentially run our lives.
The second is Modular Robotics’ Cubelets and Moss, which are kits that allow you to create robots that interact with the world around them (in a limited fashion).
I’m a fan of this one, if only because of its simplicity. It’s easy to put blocks together, attach electrical motors, and see what happens. The messing around with the cubes alone could fill a kid’s afternoon.
The only caveat I can think of is that the cubes are pretty expensive, costing hundreds of dollars for a dozen of them. Still, if you’d rather give your kids something more unique than a game console, these are a fantastic choice.
Lastly, there’s LittleBits, a company that sells a kit that allows kids to create all sorts of creative electronic devices (it’s based on their imagination in terms of how complicated they make them).
This kit is fairly open ended (by design), and though they provide you with instructions, it’s really up to your kid as to how they want to go about creating stuff. If you get this for your child, it’s important to remind them of the fact that they can break away from the instruction set and go about creating whatever they want.
After all, these toys are all about being creative, and thinking about things in a way you haven’t thought of them before.
The benefits of these kinds of “engineering” geared toys are obvious. Getting kids to think about how things work at a basic level, and making it fun for them to build something substantial at a young age can only serve to inspire them as they grow older.
What these toys really aim to do, is hold kid’s attention just long enough so that they make the “big leap from building by instruction to dreaming up new machines.”
And for what it’s worth, I see nothing wrong with that. Society can always use more dreamers.
Has your child used any of these toys? Did they like them? What did you observe while watching them play? I’d like to hear your answers in the comments!
Featured photo credit: Robotic Arm Lifting Dice/ Dan Ruscoe via flickr.com