In this electronic day and age, most children seem to be familiar with the latest games, gizmos and electronic gadgets. Parents, on the other hand, might find it hard to keep up. Here is a list of some electronic gadgets designed to help your children learn.
A simple electronic gadget that is designed to be easy for children to use. This mouse is big and bright. The trackball looks like an upside down mouse, with a ball in the middle of a stationary base. Children don’t have to move the mouse around; instead, the ball controls the pointer on the screen.
Why it works: It is great for developing fine-motor control and for introducing children to a mouse. Some models also allow for more than one mouse to be used simultaneously, so you can use your mouse at the same time as your child uses his or hers.
Look out for the BIGtrack Trackball or the Crayola Kids PC Trackball, also available with the Crayola USB EZ-type keyboard.
Leapfrog Tag Reading System
Age: 4–8 years (Junior Tag 2–4 years)
Leapfrog’s reading system enables children to run a pen over words in a book and the pen reads out the story. You need to download the audio from the Tag books. You can only use the pen with Leapfrog Tag books, but there is a wide variety of titles.
Why it works: The system helps to develop a range of skills in children from developing reading comprehension to improving and building vocabulary. It also helps to improve independent reading as children don’t require their parents to sit down and read to them to enjoy a book (although we do encourage you to read to your children as often as possible).
This is Nintendo’s latest handheld gaming console and a very popular electronic gadget. It has two screens – the bottom one is a touchscreen. Players can network with other players, thanks to the conole’s Wi-Fi capabilities, while the Pictochat features allows users to share messages and pictures with one another. There is also a built-in microphone for voice prompts.
Why it works: A great range of age-appropriate educational games are available including Brain Age (a series that consists of Sudoku and other fun puzzles). The Imagine series for girls helps to develop skills and knowledge for specific careers and the Coach series provides education in specific topics like Maths and English. An added bonus is that some of the games for other Nintendo consoles will work on this newer version.
The Apple iPad is a tablet computer that is one of the most popular electronic gadgets on the market. It was designed with audiovisual media in mind. While it is useful for viewing movies and listening to music, it has also become a great interactive way for children (and adults) to play and learn.
Why it works: The iPad offers many learning opportunities combining fun with functionality for children. There are thousands of applications available for the iPad. Read reviews of any app before purchasing it. To get you started, here are two fun apps for children:
iWriteWords teaches letters and writing in a fun way. Children can trace letters and when they get it right the letter becomes animated.
iCrayonMaker has children designing their own crayons with different colours, glitter or chalk. Children can then use their unique crayons to draw.
Another popular electronic gadget, Kinect is the Xbox’s answer to the Nintendo Wii or Sony Playstation Move, and may later be available on PC. The gaming system uses a device similar to a webcam to track a player’s movements, making it possible to play games without using a controller. This also means that the player is not just sitting but is moving around in front of the screen.
Why it works: While it comes with the normal assortment of games, Kinect also has a range of games that will help your children learn. Fantastic Pets and Kinectimals enable interaction with and learning about domestic and wild animals respectively. Body and Brain Connection offers a range of puzzles to test maths, logic and memory. There are also a variety of fitness and sports games to choose from.
Age: 8 and older
Digitally record what you write with the Fly Fusion Pentop Computer. It records what you write when using electronic paper, and stores it in digital format. The Intellipen Pro works by recording what you write on any type of paper, and transfers this to digital format.
Why it works: The Fly Pentop comes with a range of programmes for different applications including maths, writing and a music studio. Use both these electronic pens to record notes and to interact with them, making homework a whole lot easier.