When it comes to gifts, it can be hard to pick the right one for your kids, especially since there are so many toys to choose from. If you’re looking for something lesser-known and innovative, you may want to consider products and services that have been developed by kid tech startups around the world.
In this list, we’ve gathered six products and services that provide an innovative way for kids to play and learn, ranging from a kid-friendly smartphone and Montessori toys, to an alternative to LEGOs.
Playper Castle Playset
If your kids are tired of assembling LEGO sets and want to try something different, you may want to get them the Playper Castle Playset. The recyclable and plastic-free toy is one of many playsets created by Los Gatos, California-based startup Playper. The startup offers story-driven toys that kids build themselves.
Once kids pop out the thick PlaperBoard pieces, they can build a multi-level castle with a drawbridge and secret trap door by snapping the pieces together. The playset also features seven characters and several accessories that allow for a fun, storytelling experience.
If you think it’s time to get your child a phone, but want to ensure their safety, you may want to consider a Bark Phone. The customizable Samsung A14 smartphone with built-in safeguards, which is offered by an Atlanta-based startup called Bark Technologies, lets parents monitor their child’s activity. The company’s technology monitors your child’s texts, emails, social media and apps for inappropriate and dangerous content.
Parents can add and remove the parental controls they think are best, while children don’t have the option to delete text messages or change the controls that their parents set. With the Bark Phone, parents can do things like monitor their child’s location, manage calls and contacts, approve app downloads, set app time limits and more.
Pok Pok Playroom
Pok Pok Playroom is an app that features a collection of digital toys that are designed to spark creativity and learning through open-ended play. The app was created by a Toronto-based startup called Pok Pok. It’s essentially a digital playroom that is calming yet entertaining.
The app features a series of activities and features, such as a world puzzle, marble machine, blocks, drawing, busy board, musical blobs, busy book and more. Kids can explore islands, shops, a forest, a town and more. Pok Pok updates the app regularly to add new toys and activities.
GoldieBlox Watermelon Mini Purse Building Kit
Although you could get your child a nice purse, why not get them a kit that lets them make one. The Watermelon Mini Purse Building Kit is one of many STEM-related products from Oakland, California-based startup GoldieBlox. With this kit, you can build a functional purse or pencil case.
The startup’s patented system of bricks and stitches can be used to build curves, spheres and other three dimensional objects. The kit is designed to introduce children to STEM concepts while also helping them improve their creative thinking and spatial skills.
Price: $99.99 at Storypod
A Storypod offers children a screen-free audio learning experience that aims to boost a child’s cognitive development. The audio play system was created by Miami-based startup Storypod. It’s meant to give kids a fun way to engage with multi-sensory stories and music without using a phone or tablet.
It works by tapping an audiobook or trivia card, which are sold separately, onto the Storypod. From there, you can listen to stories, songs or lessons in English or Spanish. Kids can then learn through trivia questions or activities.
Tiny Earth Toys subscription
Tiny Earth Toys, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based startup, offers a rental membership that gives you access to educational toys that are exchanged every two months. You pick your pricing plan and number of toys that you want for your child each cycle.
Each of the toys are designed to help kids focus on learning skills one at a time in order to advance learning and development. With this offering, your child can have a rotation of Montessori-style toys, while you help decrease the demand for plastic toy production and help save the planet.