A Robot Buddy that Plays Games with Kids

What would you say about a robot that plays games with your kids to keep them gainfully occupied through the holidays as well as helps them develop a personality over time? Come October and you’ll get just that.

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Image courtesy: TechCrunch

Anki, the popular artificial intelligence robotics firm which is behind the launch of this new robot called Cozmo meant to interact with kids, had this to say: “He can detect different people and remember who he’s met. If you play with him every single day, he’s going to be much more interactive and happy to see you.”

Cozmo can be brave, calm, confident, excited and happy, all at different times. It is capable of recognizing its user. It’s akin to how a child actually feels over a period of time – cheerful while you’re playing with it, sulking if you ignore it or throw it in a remote corner.

Surprisingly, the robot is just about the size of a box of playing cards and fits within the palm of one’s hand. At first glance, it’ll probably give you the impression of being a miniature moon rover or some such object. It is priced at $180. Any takers?

Mexican Jumping Beans and Kickballs

It's Cinco de Mayo and here are two fun activities kids can enjoy on the occasion.

The Mexican Jumping Beans Game
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This fun activity can be played both indoors and outdoors and is suitable for kids of all ages. There is just one rule – the kids have to jump like Mexican jumping beans whenever they hear music playing and stop jumping the instant the music stops (much like musical chairs). The one(s) found still in motion after the music stops keep getting eliminated one by one till the winner remains.

Happiness is… Kicking a Mexican kickball around.
Known popularly as Mexican kickball, this is an ideal game to be played outdoors in a garden or courtyard. It involves teams, with the main goal being that each team member is required to kick a ball around an obstacle course. The team in which all members successfully manage to do so is declared the winner. But herein lies the catch: Under no circumstances is a child supposed to touch the ball with his/her hands. If touched, the said player is eliminated from the game. The obstacles can be varied – round tree logs, even down a slide, crouching one’s way from underneath a net set over a patch of mud. The idea here is to get creative with the obstacles and also have a fun race to the end.

Kazoos and Christmas Carols

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Do you know what a ‘kazoo’ is? It’s that small, simple musical instrument consisting of a hollow pipe with a hole in it, over which is a thin covering that vibrates and adds a buzzing sound when the player sings or hums into the pipe. I have come across it many times till date but didn’t know it was called a ‘kazoo’ until recently.

Here’s a fun singing game involving the kazoo which can be played amongst a group of kids this Christmas.

Divide the whole group of kids into pairs.

One pair is provided with a kazoo and a slide-whistle. The rest of the kids are expected to sing the first verse of a popular Christmas carol like Jingle Bells or Joy to the World or While Shepherds Watched their Flocks.

The pair with the instruments must then perform an instrumental duet performance of the song being sung.

The musical instruments then pass on to another pair while the rest of the kids sing a different Christmas carol. This goes on till every pair has had a chance with the instruments.

The best part of this singing game is that there are no winners or losers; just lots of fun and laughter all around!

Let Kids Be Kids… & Play!

• Playing video games improves reaction time.
• It improves hand-eye coordination.
• It plays a major role in the cognitive development of a child.
• Certain games may even develop the kids’ social and negotiating skills; for instance, if children are buying or selling virtual objects in a game.
• Games like Minecraft help children with creativity and problem-solving.

The people who vouch for the benefits of educational video games have all this and more to say. They’ll even go to the extent of claiming that video gamers could make better surgeons!

The fact of the matter is this: It is very easy to be sucked into virtual worlds (and this rings true for both children and adults alike). However, in this day and age which is popularly known as the digital era, it would be equally unreasonable for parents to forbid kids from playing online or offline video games altogether. What they can do, however, is to just keep a check on the time of play as well as the type of games their kids love playing.

Put aside the above mentioned points enumerating the benefits of gaming for kids; games are so much fun! Just as long as kids learn how to manage their time well and be responsible, we should let kids be kids… & let them play!

Move Beyond Fetch - Free Pet Games to Play with your Dog

Those who love pets but don’t have one make do with free pet games online. I’m one of the lucky ones – too lucky for my own good actually. I have four rambunctious dogs who love to bounce all over the furniture and annoy my standoffish cat with their “friendly” overtures. Channeling all that happy dog energy was a challenge until I discovered these fun games. Feel free to use them for your crazy canines.

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Image Source - http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewpescod/3831015106

Tag!
My dogs love this game because they adore running and I love it because it encourages them to come when called. All you need is a partner and plenty of dog treats to get this free pet game going. Have your partner stand across the room. Each of you has a pocketful of dog treats. Both of you take turns to call the dog and reward him with a treat. After a couple of rounds of this activity, station your partner in another room, so that your dog runs from one room to another when called. If you want maximum exercise but lower food intake, reward him with a treat every alternate or even third recall. Or substitute loads of praise and a tug toy for food. For added excitement, start to run away as you call, so the game of recall turns into a thrilling chase. In the summer, we usually play this great game in the yard or the park and in other places as well.

Find it!
This free pet game is for days when I’m feeling too lazy to think up something more creative but trust me, you can never go wrong with a game that’s got sniffing AND food. Show your dog a small dry treat and say “Find it!” and toss it on the ground. My fussy dogs disliked the idea of eating their food off the floor so I used to drop the food right in front of them until they got used to hunting out of the bowl. You can make the game more challenging by asking him to stay/sit while you hide the treat behind some furniture or in another room. Release the dog and let him hunt happily away! I ended up feeding my sweeties entire meals in this way.

Water Chaser
The great thing about this game is that you can use it to give your dog a bath if he hates having one. Talk about sneaky! First you shoot jets of water from the hose and move it around for your dog to chase. Make sure the water force is not too great and be careful not to hit his face. Do not allow your dog to jump on you during play time but be prepared to get completely drenched especially if, like me, you have more than one dog. It’s almost like playing a game of laser tag but unlike that feline favorite, it does not cause behavioral problems. If your dog exhibits attacking behavior during play, stop playing immediately or enforce strict rules. This free pet game, however, is not for dogs who do not like water even in play.
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brionnasimpson

Author:brionnasimpson
I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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