I think we all agree that kids LOVE stories. I read to my 3 and 5 year old daughters for half an hour every day before bed and they seem to never have enough.But as I do this day after day, I started to think if there’s anyway we can make the storytelling experience more meaningful?I want them to be creative, to fall in love with stories and to be engaged. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been so thrilled to find a smart toy for preschool girls likeOctobo (thinker-tinker.com). Octobo is simply one of the best educational toys for toddlers out there because it takes reading to a whole new level.
My 3-year-old is the poster child for a smart toy like this. I’ve read “Go, Dogs. Go.” so many times that there are images of red dogs on blue trees and green dogs on yellow trees burned into my brain. Sadly for me, it was my daughter’s favorite book and pretty much the only one she would sit through. I think the problem was that sitting around and just passively listening just wasn’t high on her priority list. She much preferred to be active anddoing, not just passively listening, and I think this really is an essential principle of early education and care. What I needed was a smart toy for 3-year-olds just like Octobo.
That’s why I’ve been so impressed with Octobo.
The basic concept is a smart plush (think a smart plush toy and octopus toy rolled into one, replete with hidden soft sensors). Because Octobo can hold a tablet securely inside him, he qualifies as a “smart toy” a toy integrated with technology that creates an interactive reading experience for your kids. Instead of passively listening to a story, kids can bring the story and the character to life! As one of the best educational toys for toddlers, Octobo is able to sense kids’ interactions in real time and respond accordingly. The mini games accompanying the stories and the instant emotional reactions of this smart toy lets kids feel like part of the story and turns early education and care into a brand new adventure every time.
I got to see this smart toy firsthand at the Chicago Toy Fair this year and was quite impressed with the quality. In particular, the screen is nicely implemented in the plush toy. As parents we are all concerned about “screen time” for kids, especially when it comes to their early education and care. But to my surprise, Octobo really feels like a cohesive product. Instead of a cold, digital screen you feel like you’re playing with a warm character. Another feature that makes Octobo one of the best educational toys for toddlers is the fact that there’s a separation between “game time” (when the tablets is inserted) and “pal time” (without the tablet kids can play with Octobo like a traditional plush). I also got to hear about the mission of the company from the founder, a fellow parent who wants to provide the best in early education and care to young children by bringing the best smart toys to families. They’ve managed to fashion Octobo into a smart toy for preschool boys and girls that supports problem-solving, emotional growth, and whatever area of early childhood development they expand into next. It’s even customizable so parents can let the content grow with their kids and their unique early education and care needs.
Personally, I think the reading/storytelling feature of this smart toy is the killer app for my family and makes it one of the best educational toys for toddlers out there on the market. My older daughter, who never had any problem sitting still for story time, still loves puzzle and problem solving. Octobo has some great reactions when correct answers are chosen (kids are supposed to follow the cues from the storybooks sold with the smart toy). Octobo also features an ABC learning game, so my girls can learn some of the basics of reading before tackling more challenging stuff. Because this smart toy for 3-year-olds was designed with early education and care in mind, it’s suggested age range is 0-7 years old. It’s fantastic knowing that I can buy my girls a smart toy that can continue to engage my girls for years as its library of books and games continues to expand. The amount of money this smart toy will save you on this front is just another reason it’s one of the best educational toys for toddlers and definitely one of the best learning toys I’ve come across.
Parents know that books are great for growing minds (even one with colored dogs, sigh). If there’s a smart toy designed for early education and care that keeps kids engaged and stimulated, so much the better. It doesn’t hurt that the stories supported by this smart toy focus on things like improving empathy, learning shapes and colors, and spelling, either. (My daughters and I are working on those aspects of early education and care already.) Most importantly for me, the range of books and activities supported by this smart toy means that parents never feel stuck in a rut. Again, I can’t recommend Octobo as one of the best educational toys for toddlers I’ve come across. It’s the one smart plush toy that will make reading something more than a chore for you and you child.
As a reminder, Octobo will announce the winner of its first giveaway on August 4. He or she will receive a free Octobo Starter Pack and a $100 gift card. At $129 in value, the starter pack includes: one Octobo smart plush toy, Octobo’s Underwater Adventure Storykit, the Octobo App, and a printable play guide. Keep your eyes peeled!