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8 essential tech gadgets, gear and games for your kids this summer

Kids around the world are looking forward to the summer of 2021 and here are a bevy of interesting tech games and gear that will keep them occupied throughout the months of freedom from schoolwork.

Anticipation for summer this year has a decidedly different vibe, stemming from the anxiety-filled, pandemic-induced, sheltering- and schooling-from-home year. School attendance and schedules varied throughout the country, not just from state-to-state, but city-to-city and public or private. The inconsistencies have resulted in many districts considering adding days to the school year. Many children had difficulty adjusting to virtual school, so summer activities that add low-key learning are especially beneficial. 

Balance your summer activities. Be sure you have enough wind-down activities and reading material, too. Epic, a digital reading platform designed for kids 12 and under recently released a report, "Read All About It: A Report on the State of Kids' Reading Habits and Interests During the Pandemic" which found that reading increased 89% during the pandemic, it makes kids happy, helps them to understand the world around them and cope with challenges. It also makes the kids curious, and fosters family conversation. 

For a staycation with the kids, set up a camp in the backyard and encourage them to try out these enticing learning-tool toys and more, inside or out of the home. 

Osmo 2 Math Wizard

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Image: Osmo

Math Wizard is from Osmo and it's a self-paced series of math-focused games intended for kids 6- to 8-years-old. The two new releases, available for the Apple iPad and Amazon Fire Tablet are "Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships," which features two games with one magical board, 16 ship pieces and 12 balloon pieces; and "Math Wizard and the Enchanted World Games," which features two games and one lunchbox mat, 27 fruit and veggie pieces, one juice mat, 12 fruit strips and one magical token.

$60 at Amazon

RipStik Rush, the electric RipStik 2.0 from Razor

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Image: Razor

Ready for an electric skateboard ride? Razor just announced the 2.0 version of its electric RipStik. The RipStik Rush, the electric RipStik 2.0 features technology that allows the back end of the board to fishtail, carve and drift like a snowboard or wakeboard to give rider the same feeling of motion they get while hitting the slopes with a snowboard or surfing in the ocean. The RipStik 2.0 is "coming soon" and will retail for $250.

$249 at Razor

LilGadgets Connect+ headphones

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Image: Amazon

These LilGadgets children's headphones are compact, foldable and non-pinching, with snag-free cushioning and a fixed ear cup design. They have a max volume of 93db to reduce outside noise so kids don't have to crank them up and potentially damage their ears. It comes with a SharePort so two children can share a device without sharing headphones and includes a built-in microphone. LilGadgets Connect+ is wired and designed for kids 3 and older. They feature a larger, over-the-ear headphone. The LilGadgets Untangled Pro model is a wireless Bluetooth headphone. Price listed is the starting price, and LilGadgets can range up to $54. 

$14 at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

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Image: Samsung

Give your kids a real thrill with this Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2. It comes in two colors: Dynamic Red or Dynamic Gray. It's perfect for games, schoolwork next fall, or online summer camp. It's a 2-in-1 which means it can be used as a tablet or a laptop. It has a 13.3-inch QLED display and a significantly lower price than the original Galaxy Chromebook last year, starting at just $550. It's impressive, with a display that matches what Samsung uses on its TVs. There are two versions available. The aforementioned $549.99 Chromebook 2 has an Intel Celeron 5205U processor, 4GB or RAM and 64GB of storage. For $699, the Chromebook 2 can be boosted to an Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. 

 

$699 at Best Buy

Wooden Waterwheel Coaster Craft Kit

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Image: Amazon

Not everything has to be high tech. This ROKR mechnical craft kid is a retro throwback of sorts and will allow your child to build a 3D waterwheel coaster. It's a puzzle marble run set that will entertain as much as the building process did.

$43 at Amazon

Amazon Fire Kids Pro tablets

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Image: Amazon

Amazon has three new tablets for kids: two Fire Kids Pro tablets and the next generation Fire HD 10 Kids tablet. The Fire 7 Kids Pro tablet start at $100, the Fire HD 8 Kid Pro starts at $140 and Fire HD 10 Kids tablet starts at $200. Each tablet comes with a kid-proof case, parental controls and a 2-year guarantee that if it breaks, Amazon will replace it free. The devices are available for pre-order now and will start shipping on May 26.

$99 at Amazon

Moxie

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Image: Embodied

Moxie is a smart robot-companion that Embodied, the manufacturer, said is designed for social-emotional learning or play-based learning. It comes with a learning platform for children ages 5 to 10, and includes a parent app and a kids portal. Purchase comes with a one-year subscription. 

$1,500 at Embodied

Echo Show 5 Kids

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Image: Amazon

Amazon has introduced a new lineup of Echo Show devices. Now there's the Echo Show 8, the Echo Show 5 and the first Echo Show 5 Kids. The latter device come in a bright Chameleon color and it allows kids to personalize the home screen, ask Alexa for homework help, make video calls to pre-approved contacts and set alarms with character voices. It comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and it has a two-year warranty so that if it breaks, it's replaced free. As for privacy, all of the new Echo devices have built-in shutters to cover the camera, and the ability to view and delete voice recordings. Pre-orders are going on now and the devices will begin shipping in June.

$110 at Amazon