Smart Toys Gift Guide

Embrace the creativity of your toddler with the Leap Builders Phonics House. The bricks come in an assortment of sizes, each featuring either a house design, or a letter or animal. Where it becomes smart is that the module can tell which brick you’ve put on the base, and which way around it’s facing. The friendly disembodied voice then encourages your toddler to find letters and numbers, occasionally requiring them to be put in the correct order.

Kids are taught about letters, numbers, phonics, objects, animals and colours through play and song.

The console comes with three cars representing the three characters. The cars can be played with separately, but put one on the centre controller and you open up a whole world of learning through play. The little black-and-white screen at the top is fairly rudimentary, but it does the job.

There are three different modes (science, problem solving and vehicle), and four different locations to choose from, each triggering a different activity.

The activities include identifying which animal left which foot prints, counting branches to stop a robbery, and working out which box the musical instruments are hiding in.

The games teach science, matching, problem solving, letter order, memory and counting.

A lot of the mini games are similar to mobile apps (like an endless runner, for example), so if you’re not quite ready to hand over your $1000+ glass smart phone to your pre-school child, this is a great alternative.

Sometimes, you want your child to play with physical toys, and all they want to do is play with apps. This is the compromise between the two.

If you, or the child you’re buying for, already has an iPad, then this is the kit they need to turn it into an even more educational interactive play experience.

The Genius kit is the starter pack for the Osmo educational range. It includes the iPad stand and mirror that allows the iPad to “see” the play area, as well as the first lot of game pieces (with all-important stackable storage) and first five apps.

These LittleBits inventing kits are just so cool, it’s hard to imagine any kid who’s into technology or superheroes not loving them.

The Base Inventor Kit is the best place to start, because it has a bunch of circuits that can be used to build an assortment of inventions both through the helpful instructions in the app and from kids’ own imaginations.

Pieces include a slide dimmer, sound trigger, proximity sensor and buzzer, along with some cardboard templates to give the inventions shape and character.

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