There is no doubt that toys continue to see their share of advances over the years. So much so that now we not only have “smartphones,” but also “smart toys,” some of which are educational.
What defines a smart toy? Our cultural ideas of smartness often focus on mental capabilities. For example, if someone is “smart,” they typically can use their minds in ways that go beyond the norm. A smart toy appears to have intelligence, usually by recognizing human speech and responding in an appropriate manner.
One example of a smart toy is Ubooly, which works through an app on a smartphone. Ubooly is a stuffed animal that you place in a smartphone. When you open the app and insert the phone, Ubooly wakes up and will tell you a story, play games and more. How does this relate to STEM education? Well, Ubooly fosters imaginative play, one of the best ways kids learn.
The developers include some games as well as in-app purchases with STEM content. They are also constantly adding more content to the app, so the toy is not static. I can attest that my kids love this toy and run around the house doing the things that it tells them to do. The only issue is, I have to give up my smartphone for them to play with it…I guess that can be a good thing too…
This was my first experience with a smart toy. Have you (or your children or students) ever used one before? Would love to hear about your experiences!