The 2019 holiday season is just about here, and for me that means a new crop of toys that combine technology, creativity, and education. Here are four of this year’s best additions. I’ll return with part 2 in a couple weeks.
LeapFrog RockIt Twist
Trust LeapFrog to always have a new twist on learning tech, and that’s certainly true this year. The RockIt Twist (leapfrog.com, $59.99) is a handheld game player with different controls on each of its four sides. Kids will need to rotate the Twist and use all 8 of the controllers to get through the 12 included learning games. They can raise virtual pets, practice reading, work out math problems, and more. When they tire of those games, get additional ones for $7.99 or $14.99.
Tori is the kind of toy you fall in love with from the start. I know I did. It combines hands-on craft activities with on-screen games, and it’s fun for the whole family. The Tori kit (tori.com, $169) includes do-it-yourself crafts—like tiny spaceships you color and assemble—which you then use to play games on a tablet or phone. Games are played on an included wireless board which turns real-world actions into onscreen movements. It’s a creative blast and definitely worth celebrating.
My Pet Robot—Tumbling Hedgehog
No tech toy list is complete without a robot, and this is the cutest one I’ve seen all year (thamesandkosmos.com, $39.95). Kids start out by making a friend—literally. They first need to assemble the hedgehog using a 172-piece kit. When they’re done, they can program the bot and get it to perform different actions. This hedgehog is loaded with personality, and he teaches about robotics, as well.
Yep, they’re back. The portable virtual pet Mom and Dad grew up on is back for a whole new generation. Tamagotchi On (tamagotchi.com, $59.99) are still compact and need constant care, but now they feature a color screen and can connect to go on playdates, get married, and have kids with traits from both the parents. Kids can unlock new areas, send their “tamas” on trips, and acquire stylish accessories. Just the thing for that long holiday drive to Grandma’s house.