You owe it to your eardrums to invest in a decent electric guitar for kids rather than a janky knockoff that whines like a hapless cat. Enter Loog. The startup was founded by Uruguayan musician Rafael Atijas as part of his master’s thesis project at New York University, and after conquering the US market, it has just launched in the UK and Europe. Loog has made a name for itself with acoustic guitars and its new range of electric models follow the brand’s signature formula: they look cute, with the dimensions of a ukulele, but they’re not toys. They’re the real rock ‘n’ roll deal, only shrunk.
There are three guitars targeting different ages: the Mini Electric, for ages three and up; the Pro Electric, for more than six people; and the Pro VI Electric, for ages nine and up. All are lightweight yet pleasantly sturdy and crafted from traditional hardwood painted in cheerful colors such as sunshine yellow or cherry red. And they sound the part. Each battery-powered instrument has a built-in amp but can also be plugged into a stand-alone amp if you’re ready for your little one to go a little more Black Sabbath. While the Pro VI has six strings like a regular guitar, the Mini and Pro have three, making them much easier to learn. But because their strings – G, B, and E – are the same as the highest trio on a regular guitar, when it’s time to upgrade to a full-size model, kids will already be familiar with many chords, string placements, and more. tuning fingers and procedures. .
Most appealing of all might be the supporting acts that keep kids engaged and ensure they don’t tire of chords or have to fuss with pesky sheet music. Every guitar comes with access to an app featuring chord teaching monsters, tuning tutorials, pre-recorded lessons taught by experts, digital flashcards (you also get a physical pack) and a neat selfie feature that directs your fingers in real time. Also: there’s a 15-song digital songbook and additional tutorials for hits by David Bowie, Dolly Parton and Nina Simone. Naturally, when it’s time to go wild, the monsters in the app are ready to play with you. Loog Mini Electric, from €177; Pro Electric, from €199; Pro VI Electric, from €211; eu.loogguitars.com
The Paperwhite e-reader that comes with Amazon’s new children’s pack is the same as the adult one: a huge step up from regular Kindles. It has a larger, sharper screen, more storage space and a built-in light for reading in the dark. It’s also water resistant and has a “warmth” slider to set the screen to a soft, yellowish glow near bedtime.
The difference with the child pass is the goodies that come with it. Mainly: a one-year subscription to Kids+, a library of some 1,000 books for children under 12, as well as a two-year guarantee which covers accidental damage. It’s a dedicated e-reader so your child can’t switch between games or apps. Kindle Paperwhite Kids, £139.99, amazon.fr
Can I have a Playdate?
Have you ever said to yourself, while playing your GameBoy, “What this thing really needs is… a crank”? The Playdate, a palm-sized device with a fishing reel on the side, is surely the weirdest gaming console to hit the market in recent times. But when you play its weird and wonderful games, its weirdness comes into its own; suddenly you wonder how you ever had fun without a crank. In one particularly addictive game, he controls a distracted robot who’s late for a date.
Games are released in drops with two free games every week for the first 12 weeks. Created by Portland-based company Panic, it has a crisp screen but it’s not backlit. Good for teenagers and kids at heart. Playdate, $179, pre-order on play.date
And so to bed…
Given the glut of sleep aids for adults, it’s nice to see a device aimed at nervous little ones before lights out. This mint-green box of calm – from French startup Morphée, which also offers an adult version – gushes nearly 200 nap-inducing audio stories. It’s pleasantly analog: no screen or blinking lights.
Kids simply turn a dial to select an animal (lion, butterfly, giraffe) and another for a destination (space, castle, island), and a story will be told to them – through a speaker with dimpled holes. ‘star. Each session lasts eight or 16 minutes; it also plays soothing tunes and sound effects, like flowing water. Aimed at children aged three to eight, it is charged via a USB port and is lightweight and travel-friendly. My Little Morpheus, €79.95, morphee.co
Who is he?
The simple sale of Picoo is hugely appealing: it’s a play device to get kids off the couch and running around outside. Created by a Dutch startup and recommended for children aged 4 to 12, the “consoles” – which come in packs of four – are screenless, interactive wands that light up, buzz and beep.
They are battery operated and require no WiFi or hassle; kids just need to scan a game card. Spice up the old-school classics: in Zombierun, a supercharged version of tagging, the zombie must “tag” others and turn the wands from purple to green. The ever-growing selection of 10 games also includes treasure hunts, molesting and educational puzzles. Picoo starter kit from £199, boutique.picoo.com