Are you an actual kid or just young at heart? No matter. The new Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet - available at Three from just £15 a month - is colourful, durable and has some of the best learning apps we've ever seen on it. Which you can use to babysit - ahem, teach - your kids. Or just crawl under the duvet a with them and watch Inside Out, for the seventh time. C'mon, you know you want to.
Every 21st century parent knows that they have a leg up on every parent that came before them.
It makes them better, smarter, and – most importantly – more tolerant. Yes, we’re talking about tablet technology.
Let’s be honest: it’s because of the existence of tablets that many a restaurant meal has been saved from the point of no return by a tantruming toddler. A science app taught your six-year-old every element in the periodic table so you didn’t have to, and your 10-year-old is a better photographer than you, thanks to playing around with savvy camera filters and action shots (how is it that you still can’t quite figure out Burst mode after all of these years?)
And while we’re not saying “Yes” to screen time, all the time – remember how we went #coldturkey at Christmas? – we do accept that tablets can be brilliant at teaching our kids all kinds of things. And they’re pretty much as important to pack as your passport the next time you get on a plane with little ones in tow.
Which is why we’re practically delirious with joy at this latest news: the Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet is available at Three – and it’s fabulous and better than handing over your phone or phablet to your children while you nervously hope they don’t call/text anyone important by accident.
One look at the brightly coloured, ultra-chunky display and you can breathe a sigh of relief: not only will it appeal to kids of all ages (choose from blue or pink to customise to your little one’s style prefs) but even a one-year-old can’t break this tablet, no matter how hard they try. There’s a two-year-warranty if they happen to be especially gifted in the destruction-of-all-things department.
The curved edges are perfectly suited to little hands and fingers, while the vast selection of books, TV, games and educational apps will keep them occupied – and introduce them to new subjects, characters and stories.
With no upfront costs and a starting price of £15-a-month, the Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet also comes with a Huawei mobile Wi-Fi dongle, so you can get connected anywhere and everywhere (making it the must-have accompaniment for every day out and holiday).
We’re most impressed with the selection of educational apps on offer, with something to get your child through each developmental stage. Here are some of our favourite Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet apps for kids of all ages.
Babies (18 months-2 1/2 years)
If your experience with babies is anything like ours, then from the second they turn six months/can sit up and move around a bit, they will identify your most coveted digital possession (iPhone 7, iPad, etc.) and become completely enthralled with it. This obsession will last approximately 18 years.
Some people want their babies coding from birth; others are more reticent to start their mini-mes on digital devices until they’re a bit older. No matter when you choose to let your child play with their first tablet, one app is a surefire favourite: Baby Sound Touch Lite.
The free app features images of farm animals, different types of transportation, musical instruments and more. Press on the image and the appropriate sound – croaking for a frog, vrooming for a car engine – is heard. Fun for hours. Which is why they need to be doing this on their own tablet, and not your iPhone.
Baby Sound Touch Lite, Free
Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers (3-5 years)
From the age of about three, your child will suddenly be more proficient at using a tablet than you. It’s deeply unsettling – especially if you’ve been militant about not letting them have any screen time. Ever.
TBH, it is utterly futile to withhold technology until your kid’s reached school age: once you get to nursery, weekly “homework” typically consists of playing computer games or watching phonics videos on YouTube. So get a head start and fuel your child’s thirst for knowledge with these quirky educational apps.
Toca Kitchen 2, £2.49
This game is pure brilliance: you pick food from the fridge, slice and dice it, boil it and fry it and then serve it up to a cast of zany characters, who burp their hearts out and react in funny ways to hot or sour foods. Kids will be introduced to foods like watermelon, prawns, chicken, corn and octopus legs. If your four-year-old figures out how to cook those, just skip Reception and send them straight to the Cordon Bleu in Paris.
BBC CBeebies Storytime, Free
Topsy and Tim. Charlie and Lola. Peter Rabbit. And so many more stories starring your toddler’s favourite CBeebies characters, which come to life as part of this interactive audio book app (parents can also read stories to their children, or there’s an option for children to read on their own). Not only will this app help your kids start to read, questions at the end of each story make sure they understand what’s going on.
PAW Patrol Pups Take Flight, £2.73
We’ll wager that your kids are obsessing over this show. The app lets them engage with all of their favourite characters, while teaching them maths basics like shape and number recognition and counting skills.
Primary school age and up (5+)
It’s once you have kids that are reading, writing and doing basic arithmetic in school that you realise how complementary apps (and the Amazon Fire) can be: they repeat and reinforce many of the same concepts that your children are in the process of learning, adding a fun component to the process. Yes, as it turns out, being rewarded with digital stickers and music after figuring out the sum 13+24 beats getting a tick on your nightly homework sheet. This age is also the ideal time to encourage those imaginations to run wild…
Congrats, you’ve got a budding Picasso living with you. We bet you also have Play-Doh crusted on your kitchen table, bits of glitter gently sprinkled over every piece of furniture and stickers from three years ago stuck on the floor. Mister Maker’s Let’s Make It app lets your child indulge their creative side: drawing, colouring and coming up with their own creations… all without a drop of paint anywhere near you or that armchair you recently purchased and are hoping to keep intact for at least a few weeks.
My PlayHome Hospital, £2.10
Every pushy parent dreams of their child becoming a doctor… and with this app, you can feel like you’re doing something towards those ambitions while simultaneously sprawling on the couch and letting the Amazon tablet make your dreams come true for you. Awesome. This app (which also comes in home, shopping and school versions), is all about the power of imagination: let your child bandage patients, check blood bags and dole out prescriptions. They’ll definitely credit you for this when they’re winning a Nobel Prize for services to science in 40 years’ time.
Thinkrolls 2, £2.29
In this app, kids need to guide their characters through 270 levels of mazes, deciding whether characters should roll, glide or float through each themed level. The kids think they’re having a ball – but you know they’re busy learning the basic foundations of physics, deductive reasoning, problem-solving and strategic thinking. Not too shabby, eh?
A brilliant app for helping kids get organised, whether they’re dressing for school each morning or setting aside time to do some reading or musical instrument practice each day. KazuTime is basically the fun, in-control parent you want to be (but since you’re the actual parent, you’re too busy screaming while feeling frustrated and helpless that your 9-year-old can’t manage to find their shoes in less than 25 minutes each morning). Developed by therapists and educators, in the game, kids race against husky Kazu, and start to get a sense of how time works. IN THE REAL WORLD. *Also useful for 20 and 30-somethings who fail to make it anywhere on time.
Blox 3D World Creator, £1.93
They say if you can dream it, you can build it – and this app puts that premise to the test, letting kids design worlds out of 3D shapes and then populating them with animals and people. Hours of enjoyment for creative types. And megalomaniacs.
Sleep Furiously, £1.99
Fridge-magnet poetry, anytime, anywhere. Sleep Furiously is all about letting those creative juices flow. Nonsensical sentences are fine… as long as they’re grammatically correct. Enough time spent with this app and we can guarantee a book deal in your kid’s future (No, we can’t really do that).
Toca Lab, £0.69
Another winner from apps-maker extraordinaire Toca Boca, Toca Lab introduces children to all of the elements of the periodic table, in a memorable and kooky way (different elements make different noises, and are squishy, light, heavy and hard). Kids can experiment with Bunsen burners, mix different liquids from test tubes and make some unexpected new potions, while learning all about life in a science lab. So much better than having them try these experiments out IN. REAL. LIFE.