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Tech toys that fight summer brain drain

Now that my family is in full-on summer mode, it’s time to up the ante when it comes to integrating a little learning into my kids’ days. There are great websites for reading and math, but for a more hands-on approach to learning, I like the following tech toys.LittleBits (Ages 8+)You kids can snap together light, sound, sensors and buttons to create interactive toys without ever lifting a sol
Thames & Kosmos / Today
Just like a real anteater, your child can scoop up bugs with the Uncle Milton Anteater Bug Vac. The vacuum's clear removable "belly" makes it easy for kids to observe their catch, while keeping the bugs safe for release back into the wild. Available on UncleMilton.com for $24.95.Uncle Milton / Today

Now that my family is in full-on summer mode, it’s time to up the ante when it comes to integrating a little learning into my kids’ days. There are great websites for reading and math, but for a more hands-on approach to learning, I like the following tech toys.

LittleBits (Ages 8+)

You kids can snap together light, sound, sensors and buttons to create interactive toys without ever lifting a soldering iron or wiring components together. Magnets ensure the components fit together correctly, leaving your child to explore electronics and science in safety. The starter kit is available on littlebits.cc for $89.00.

littleBits / Today

Leapster Explorer GS (Ages 4-9)

Leapfrog’s Leapster line of handheld educational game systems gets a major upgrade in the Leapster Explorer GS. The new system is thinner, sports a larger display, has a motion sensor and records video and photos with its built-in camera. Available in August for $69.99, with pre-orders starting tomorrow on Leapfrog.com.

LeapFrog / Today

Sifteo Cubes (Ages 12+)

From classic games like chess and dominoes to word-finding, pattern-matching and spatial reasoning, Sifteo Cubes will get your kids thinking. Kids can even program the cubes to create their own games. The starter kit ($149 on Sifteo.com) comes with three cubes and a charger. And you can add extra cubes at $45 a pop. The price is high, but your child won’t out-grow it.

Sifteo / Today

TechnoSource Kurio (Ages 4+)

This 7-inch Android 4.0 tablet comes pre-loaded with kids content that will appeal to a wide range of ages. There are popular puzzle and physics-based games, like "Angry Birds," "Cut the Rope" and "Where’s My Water," and ebooks through Aldiko Premium and educational content from Mr. Nussbaum. Each child can have his or her own separate settings for content control and time management. Available on ToysRUs.com for $199.

TechnoSource / Today

Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0 Kit (Ages 8+)

Your kids can learn how to harness the power of the wind with this fully-functional wind-power generator kit. Inside there are plans for building a windmill to charge AA batteries. Kids can experiment with the number of blades and gear ratio to best harness the wind in their location. Then that fully charged battery set can be placed into one of six model vehicles kids assemble from components in the kit. Available on Shopatron.com for $39.99.

Thames & Kosmos / Today

Electronic Interactive Dinosaur Encyclopedia (Ages 5+)

Loaded with facts about dinosaur sizes, diet, defenses and more, the Electronic Interactive Dinosaur Encyclopedia will keep dinosaur lovers engaged over the summer. When kids place one of 10 dinosaur figures on the toy’s platform, the toy will recognize it and tell them all about it. And when your child is ready, there are quiz and game modes to test his or her knowledge. Available on YoungExplorers.com for $39.95.

Young Explorer / Today

Electronic Interactive Dinosaur Encyclopedia (Ages 5+)

Loaded with facts about dinosaur sizes, diet, defenses and more, the Electronic Interactive Dinosaur Encyclopedia will keep dinosaur lovers engaged over the summer. When kids place one of 10 dinosaur figures on the toy’s platform, the toy will recognize it and tell them all about it. And when your child is ready, there are quiz and game modes to test his or her knowledge. Available on YoungExplorers.com for $39.95.

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