The temp out your front door is low enough to crack the thermometer, so your kids are staying warm inside. By now, though, your youngsters might be looking for something to disrupt their winter boredom. To fend off the winder doldrums, here are four fun but educational gadgets that will keep them busy and engaged, regardless of the weather.
A robot for 3-to-6-year-olds
PrimoToys' Cubetto is aimed at making it simple and non-scary for preschoolers to learn how to code. No screens are involved, and children don't need to know how to read.
When your family opens the box, you'll see objects such as a small wooden box with a smiley face on the side, a wooden board, colored blocks, a story book, and a "world map" that folds out like a tablecloth or blanket.
And believe it or not, the small box is the robot. Kids command the robot by placing blocks in particular sequences on the board. A green block tells Cubetto to move forward, for instance, while a red block commands the robot to take a right turn. The map and story book turn the kit into a series of adventure games.
Although the Montessori-approved Cubetto does a great job of being accessible to young kids, a grownup should be around, too, to help with story telling and guiding the action. But then again, you wouldn't leave your preschoolers home alone, any way, right? It costs $225.
A robot for ages 5 and up
Even kids as young as five can interact with the Dash and Dot Robot Kit, using remote control to make the cute blue robot light up and utter sounds. As kids get more familiar with Dash, though, they can start to use the accompanying app to program their buddy to perform actions on its own, without the remote.
Lots of accessories are available for Dash, too, giving a big boost to the numbers of things the robot can do. For example, there's a smaller companion robot known as Dot, an Xylophone for programming and playing back music, and a launcher for shooting projectiles.
Dash alone costs $150, though the full Dash & Dot Wonder Kit is $280.
Making music in the playroom
Not all kids want to grow up to be George Jetson. If your kids aren't especially intrigued at the thought of programming robots, they might instead be musically inclined. Do you have any budding Justin Biebers or Taylor Swifts in the house? And do they like to entertain their friends?
SelfieMic is a selfie stick with a built-in microphone. An accompany app is full of contemporary pop hit songs for karaoke singalongs. Kids can also start to learn video editing by enhancing their own performances. The recorded performances can be shared with others.
If children just want to lip sync, they can do that, too. It's priced pretty affordably, right around $25.
A DIY computer for kids
One of the ultimate cure-alls for cabin fever is a DIY computer kit named Kano. With its bright orange components and funky stickers, Kano makes it fun and easy for older children to build their own computer.
The DIY Computer is based on the Raspberry Pi 3 computer and open source Kano OS. Once kids get the system going, they can use it to play games and do other exercises that teach them how to create art and apps. It's available for about $150.