This is a guest post by Jen Morack, owner of the ComputerTots/ComputerExplorers technology education program for Hunterdon and Mercer Counties. For information about a program in your area visit www.computerexplorers.com
It’s that time of year when I get many questions regarding the best technology gifts available for our littlest of students. As a technology educator and mom, I have tried many different devises over the years not only for our educational curriculums but also for my own children. Here are just a few items that I’ll be buying this year.
Digital cameras are always the top of the list for any age and Fisher Price has designed a great camera for our youngest of digital natives: The Fisher Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera. It’s a real camera but encased in a preschooler proof, durable, graspable plastic case for little hands. What I like is the two-eyed view feature (think binoculars) and a 1.3” color LCD preview screen to see the pic they’ve just taken. The camera comes with a USB cord, software, comes in Pink and Blue and it takes up to 50 photos. This is not a devise that will produce high quality photographs, but your preschooler will not mind the quality is just as good as any disposable you can buy. This camera’s durability and ease of use make it a great beginner camera for the PreK-6 year old set.
For the little ones who aren’t quite ready for the infamous Game Boy but who really want one to be just like big brother, the Leapster L-Max is a great alternative and slightly more educational. Leapster has spent a few years creating games that support learning. This device can also replace the original Leapster as those cartridges also work in the new upgraded unit. Children interact by using the stylus on the touch screen. I love that the stylus is attached! I have spent many hours looking for Game Boy stylus that have been lost “somewhere in the car” and purchased many replacements over the years. The L-Max is available in Pink and in Silver.
VTech has designed a similar unit called the V.Smile Pocket which uses Smartridges that are compatible with the handheld as well as the TV system. The Smartridges have games in different age ranges so older siblings will be happy to “borrow” if your preschooler is willing to share. This system does not use touch screen technology.
Does your preschooler long to use mommy’s Blackberry? Well never fear, they can have their own - a Blackberry just for your Preschooler! Leapfrog Text and Learn looks just like a Blackberry and helps children learn their letters and letter sounds on a QWERTY keyboard. The display is basic in black and white and there are some nice little games to be played on the system. It’s a basic and affordable toy that most 2-4 year olds will love as they pretend to be Twittering just like mom!