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These Awesome Tech Toys Will Make Your Kids Smarter

These Awesome Tech Toys Will Make Your Kids Smarter

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?

1. Kano

Kano1z

    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.

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    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.

    2. Cubelets and Moss

    Cubelets2z

      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).

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      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.

      3. Littlebits Kit

      Littlebits3z

        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).

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        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.

        Conclusion

        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.”

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        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

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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