Every year parents are looking for the perfect gift that will impress their child while also providing them with a unique and educational experience. It’s fun to buy toys which allow kids to indulge in play, but as parents, we look forward to giving them something that will help them grow intellectually, prepare them for schooling, and aid them with homework.
Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of educational learning toys and devices for kids. From the inexpensive and fun to the high-tech and innovative—we’ve found them all, listed their pros and cons, and highlighted their respective price points. By helping you find the right toy—at the right price—the holidays just got that much more enjoyable for everyone.
iPad Mini ($149.99–$238.23*)
The latest version of the iPad Mini has retina display—making for excellent viewing quality—and a 64bit processor. This accounts for the higher cost when compared to other learning devices. Colors are sharp and clear with a resolution that shows movies and videos in HD. The rear camera has 1080p video for crystal clear picture. Pre-loaded with iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie, and Pages, this device is ready for standard use, but you’ll have to purchase anything above and beyond those apps for children to truly enjoy the tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 ($279.99*)
There’s a lot to love about this device. Kids will enjoy the attractive interface, colorful design, and lightning-fast performance—and the extended battery life will allow for up to eight hours of uninterrupted play and instruction. The screen measures seven inches and the speakers will hit up to 78 decibels if your child wants to watch a movie without headphones.
If that’s not enough, there’s a lot for you to love, too. Parental controls allow kids to explore and expand their knowledge without wading into dangerous territory, and the time management feature will give you the power to keep track of screen time. There are also front and rear cameras, making it easy to snap photos and capture video. The only downside to this device is that there aren’t multiple user profiles or pre-installed, child-friendly apps.
Leap Frog LeapPad Platinum ($129.99*)
This tablet comes with pre-loaded content, a stylus, and a case—something that Amazon doesn’t include with their kindle editions. It also has front and rear cameras, speakers, WiFi capability, and a headphone jack. You can even set up more than one user profile, switching between children in the family and their current learning level. You can charge the seven inch tablet from any USB port, which is great for road trips because it can charge in the car. The battery lasts five hours and the tablet is pre-loaded with six demos of LeapFrog software. Best of all, you can program the apps to speak directly to your child, in order to help them learn and read along.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8 ($66.82–$89.99* on Amazon)
The greatest thing about the new Kindle Fire HD is that even with all its bells and whistles, it’s still super affordable. The tablet has high video playback and is durable in case the tablet is dropped, which is great for children. Aside from the stellar price point, you’ll also get 16GB of storage (double what was offered on the previous generation tablet) and an eight inch screen with color options in black, tangerine, magenta, and blue. The drawbacks include a lack of content—unless you are an Amazon Prime member—and ads that will cost you an extra $10 a month if you don’t want to see them.
LeapFrog Epic (On Amazon for $68.50–$92.00*)
Designed specifically for younger children, LeapFrog’s Epic stands for explore, play, imagine, and create. This tablet is a seven inch Android model with a bumper to prevent damage and software that will grow with your child’s education level. The base model comes with 16GB of storage, but parents can opt for a microSD card which will allow for up to 32GB more. There are rear and front facing cameras included for taking photo and video. The best part? It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
VTech InnoTab Max ($139.99*)
This fun little tablet comes in two colors—either pink or blue—and the cover is designed to protect the screen from scratches and cracks. It’s recommended for children ages 3–9 and since it’s powered by Android, parents can access over 200 educational games and tools. Pre-loaded with 18 apps and a 2-megapixel camera that can rotate to take photos and videos, your children will be entertained for hours. It also comes with 8GB of storage and can be expanded to 32GB when you purchase an extra microSD card.
CogniToys Dino IBM Watson Dinosaur ($99*)
With Elemental Path’s CogniToy Dino, kids can have a conversation with IBM Watson, who will answer questions, tell jokes, and connect to the web through either an iOS or Android app. There is a button on the dino’s belly that holds the microphone and allows children to speak with him and learn spelling and math, as well as find answers any questions they might have. Between fact retrieval and personalized conversations, this device will surprise both parents and children alike. Rest assured, there are parental controls so your children remain safe and their privacy is always guarded.
LeapFrog LeapReader & Writing System ($99*)
With this reading and writing system, your child will have access to over 40 books and games based on popular films and tv shows. The system is designed primarily for children ages 4–8 and allows them to touch the pen to pages of printed storybooks, maps, puzzles, and other learning-related materials. There are also interactive activities designed to help your child learn basic reading and comprehension skills. The device also holds 10 audio books and boasts a non-slip grip so your kids are less likely to drop it. Parents can monitor their children’s activates with a Tag Reader account online and help create the learning path that best suits their abilities. As a bonus, the device will auto sleep after a period of inactivity and conserve battery life.
Fisher-Price Fun2-Learn Smart Tablet ($19.99*)
This tablet is an inexpensive option for younger children and comes with six different gaming modes which will help your child learn a wide range of basic skills: letters of the alphabet, first words, and counting from 1–10 in both English and Spanish. Parents can set the color of the screen to their child’s favorite color and there is a kickstand on the back of the tablet which allows it to sit upright during play.
Numark Party Mixer & DJ Controller ($99.00*)
This fun little system allows your child to be the DJ and create music with a simple plug-and-play design and light show. Using Virtual DJ LE software, you’ll get a pre-loaded soundcard and the ability connect to your living room stereo’s headphones. There are dual scratch platters and slider controls as well as a feature set of eight multi-function pads for looping, sampling, master cue audio output, and backlit syncing control power. This device allows your child to learn the basic skills needed to create original synth music and helps them build party mixes with their iTunes collection by using the included software.
However, this is basic DJ equipment and software. It’s a good starting-off point, but may not satisfy the needs of a teenager who has a little more experience composing original music.
LeapFrog Explorer Smart Globe ($95.00*)
LeapFrog’s interactive globe allows children to learn thousands of amazing facts about geography and our planet—including the names of continents, countries, and states, as well as national anthems and currencies. There are six games included with the device and three different learning levels. Kids can compete with up to four players. Children use a magic pen to pinpoint the location they’re curious about and learn from the rotating globe. There is also a headphone jack and automatic shutoff. The only downside to this device is that you cannot upload new or updated information and it doesn’t connect to WiFi.
CHiP (Canine Home Intelligent Pet) ($175–$250*)
The WowWee Chip Robot Dog is an intelligent friend who shows its owner affection, can learn new tricks—like rolling a ball or playing fetch—and can be trained to respond to voice commands. CHiP can also do some pretty fun things like dance when your child holds his front legs or nuzzle up to your child when they touch his nose. Most impressively, his Bluetooth BLE helps him respond to gestures like clapping and touch.
When choosing a smart device that will help your children learn and grow, it’s always best to consider how much they’ll will want to play on useless apps and whether or not the device will encourage them to further their development in a fun, engaging way.
You’ll also need a reliable internet connection.
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*Pricing is current as of writing and is subject to change at anytime
**West.Frontier has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products