Nick’s Picks for Educational Toys 2016
Tech Toys, STEM Toys, and More
As a tech coach and consultant, I get to check out the latest and greatest educational toys and gadgets. I’ve selected my favorite educational toys in three different price ranges. This is the first in a three part series.
5 Tech Toys Under $100
If you mention 3D Printing Pens to anyone in the educational technology field, you’re likely to here about the 3 Doodler. It’s the “worlds first and best selling” 3D Printing Pen. 3D Printers are awesome, but expensive. 3D Pens provide a more organic experience for the creative process at a much more affordable price. They essentially extrude heated plastic that cools into solid plastic creations. Not all 3D pens are created equal. Among educators, the 3Doodler Create 3D Pen is a trusted choice.
3 Doodler does have a less expensive option, but I recommend the Soyan 3D Printing Pen if you’re looking for a 3D Printing Pen for under $50. In fact, it’s my top choice for a 3D Pen in any price range.
These little robots can be programmed by drawing a series of lines on ordinary paper. The Ozobots follow the lines and respond to different color changes and combinations. It’s a great way to get little ones started with coding and robotics. They can move on to the Ozobot apps and web-based challenges as they continue to build their skills.
Recommended for ages 6+.
Osmo enables you to interact with your iPad by manipulating objects that are in front of the camera. Just set your iPad in the Osmo base, place the red reflector over the camera, and start playing beyond the screen.
Designed for ages 5-12.
The Osmo Genius Kit includes an Osmo Game System, and four games:
- Tangram – Have fun and challenge your spatial and visual problem solving skills by arranging puzzle pieces to match online shapes.
- Numbers – Numbers is a creative way to sharpen math skills, and learn that their are multiple ways to solve a problem. Kids physical tiles to “play math,” including modes for counting, addition, multiplication, and concentration.
- Words – Arrange letter tiles to spell out secret words that are represented by images on the screen. Play alone, or gather friends and family around the table for a competitive twist.
- Masterpiece – Snap a picture of anything and masterpiece creates an image that consists of simple outlines. Kids draw the image on paper while Osmo superimposes their drawing on top of the on-screen outline.
With electronic building blocks that are color coded, and connect magnetically, anyone can test their ideas and try their hand at inventing something awesome. This kit comes with everything needed to “create touch-activated inventions to control your stuff.”
If you’re looking for a codable, app-controlled robot for under $100 you essentially need to decide what is more important to you – battery life, or features. So instead of limiting myself to sharing 5 tech toys under $100, I’ve added a sixth one.
The Ollie is a great robot that gets about an hour of use per charge (nearly twice that of comparable priced app-controlled robots). The free Ollie app makes this a fun toy to control from you smartphone or tablet, other apps like Tynker allow kids to program their robot with drag and drop coding blocks.
For about $30 More
Sphero is one of the most trusted names in App-Controlled Robots. If you’re willing to go just a bit over $100, I highly recommend the Sphero 2.0: The App-Controlled Robot Ball. I prefer the Sphero SPRK+ STEAM Educational version. Star Wars fans will want to check out the Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App Controlled Robot.
If battery life isn’t your primary concern, I prefer the Parrot Jumping Race MiniDrone. It’s fast, fun, and features real time video feedback and recording so you can watch all of the action from the drone’s point of view. This is a truly fun drone, but the tradeoff is a battery life of about 20 minutes per charge. If you want to have video feedback and recording in the dark, and you’re willing to sacrifice some speed, you’ll want to check out the Parrot Jumping Night MiniDrone.
I only recommend products that I personally use or know their value, so you’re in good hands. Purchasing products through some of the links above may result in me receiving a couple of bucks. It helps offset the cost of hosting this site, but it’s certainly not enough to buy a pony. I do however appreciate your support!
If you find better prices on any of these items, please share in the comments below.
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