Festival of Lights

Five iPad Alternatives for Kids

Whenever we’re out and about I often see families dining and travelling with an iPad or a similar electronic gadget plastered on their small children’s faces. Where is the familial conversation? Where are the traditional kiddie activities? I guess to each his own and maybe there are other circumstances we don’t know of that lead to this. But for us, we prefer to foster a low-media upbringing for our daughter, no matter if she’s having a grumpy day.

She is now five and we as parents have so far survived without electronic toys (I really loathe them) and minimal (like almost never) use of the iPad. In addition, she rarely watches television; our longest streak being three weeks without turning on the screen. We also prefer to bring her to live theatrical performances instead of going to the cinema. The only instance we make an exception with prolonged screen time is when we’re on a 12-hour flight or when I have a super important telephone conference (I work from home and as much as I tend to schedule a call when she’s in school, sometimes it’s not possible).

We think so far it has worked because she can keep herself busy doing activities, concentrate on a task, and sit still during a two-hour theatrical performance (whistling to our ear every now and then when she doesn’t understand something in the story). Even in the plane from Europe to Asia she will willingly turn off the screen to sleep. We don’t know until when we can keep this going as obviously she’ll have other needs as she grows up, but we intend to keep this low-media upbringing for as long as we can. Even Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley executives limit the use of iPads to their children.

Of course not using an iPad means we need to bring other things when we’re out and about. Plus, we need to talk! So aside from story books and small rubber figures, here are five iPad alternatives that we often use as they’re portable, easy to use and, most importantly, not messy. These make excellent gifts too.

1. Jumping Jack Puppets by Djeco
This is a paper craft kit with different themes. You basically cut out the illustrated body parts, fasten them together and color away. It is a fun activity and your kids can pretend to make the puppets dance or the animals move. All the materials are included except for the coloring pencils.

2. Sticker Box by Editions Lito
From pirates and ballerinas to clowns and farm animals, let your kids’ imaginations run wild as they create stories using stickers. This particular circus box has 120 stickers and our daughter has so much fun making her own show. Although the stickers are removable and reusable, she prefers to dispose of the used ones and create a new story.

3. An Introduction to Origami by Djeco
Help develop your kids’ fine motor skills by creating origami pieces. There are different themes to choose from and this particular set comes with various whimsically illustrated animals and stickers. There’s an easy-to-follow instruction manual and your children can even use their creativity by combining different stickers for the eyes, whiskers and nose.

4. Dolls Scenario from Mon Petit Art
Make your favorite classical fairy tale stories come to life with this portable carton theater. From Little Red Riding Hood to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this particular set is an enjoyable activity to help your kids retell the tales and create their own. Better yet, they can play with it while you’re reading the stories. In addition, there are blank papers that kids can use to draw their own scenes and characters. There is also another carton set with kings, queens, knights and jesters in the form of animals.

5. Coloring papers and books
Ah, the good old coloring papers and books never fail. Your kids can even share them with friends they make on the train ride or in a restaurant. We tend to bring a box of 18 coloring pencils since our daughter is quite particular about colors. She sometimes insist on bring her washable markers but, no, it’s better to leave them at home!

Until my next post … take care!

Read: Bring the artist out in your child with glitters, sand and paint
Read: Fun activities for children at home
Read: Growing up with traditional children’s toys
Read: DIY snowflakes
Read: Fairy tales and fables

Postcard #79: Paris

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