Kids/Babies Maker/Development

Codie steers its way to teaching kids simple programming concepts

There are many apps and Web sites that help teach young minds how to program. In addition to being a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself, it helps students learn lessons in logic and problem-solving. However, in this era of connected devices, it’s helpful to see the ways in which coding can affect objects in the real world.

Codie is a small robotic set tank tread that has various sensors in it. Unlike many kits that combine development and robot-building, it is ready to go right out of the box. A companion app allows beginning programmers to implement very simple instructions and logic to control the bot via Bluetooth. Codie includes a microphone, proximity sensor, light sensor, ultrasound sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope. Not everything Codie does depends on its wheels. It can even be used as an alarm clock.

Codie includes a rechargeable lithium ion battery that allows it to run for about four hours of continuous play.. Codie’s use of Bluetooth and simple companion app are part of what set it apart from Romo, another crowdfunded kid-friendly programmable tread-based robot.

The makers of Codie compare it to Lego Mindstorms, a far more expensive and elaborate — albeit expandable — early robotics kit that is used in introductory robotics. Codie is certainly better geared toward younger kids and has a lower price. The Budapest-based team seels $70,000 by May 15;  Codie costs $169 and should be delivered by November.


GeoBunnies cuddle with kids, teach them math at the same time

Math is important for little kids to learn, but not always the most interesting topic. Kids need to be engaged in sneaky ways in order for them to learn important facts.

GeoBunnies makes it fun for children to learn some important math basics. These plush toys are made from velboa fabric and look like bunny rabbits, but come in three different shapes. There’s a pink hexagon, a blue pentagon, and a green triangle. Each has a formula embroidered into its back for how to find the area of that specific shape.

It’s a little unclear which age group these toys are made for. On the one hand, the toys are cute and definitely more for a younger set. On the other, the formulas they provide are a bit more complicated and maybe more appropriate for middle school-aged kids. Still, the intention is noble in trying to get kids to learn math the “fun” way. For one of their own, backers must donate $16 for delivery in October 2015. GeoBunnies is hoping to raise $9,900 in funding on Kickstarter.

Health and Wellness Kids/Babies

BrushyBall stays a head by teaching kids how to brush teeth

Getting kids to brush their teeth is another one of those parental challenges, and it’s one that has the potential to make for some very long nights.

In order to motivate kids to brush their teeth and take the mundane routine out of it, BrushyBall  was created. As noted in Episode 6 of the Backerjack podcast, the battery-operated personal tooth brushing coach for kids has teeth that light up in a specific sequence of six sections. The toothbrush training toy, designed by a dentist, teaches kids by having them follow along with the flashing lights. Music and verbal cues are a part of the thorough process that lasts for about two minutes.

The plastic Muppet-like head isn’t too intimidating, and the developer would ideally like to license well-known characters to keep kids more engaged, but it seems to take up a fair amount of countertop space. Backers looking for a way to encourage kids to floss might want to check out Gummy Floss. This campaign seeks to raise 50,000 by April 5, 2015. For $20, backers get one product with an expected delivery of April 2015.

Health and Wellness

Fever Reliever lets you wrap your head and keep some cool

A migraine headache or a fever can be pretty debilitating. And if one’s child has a severe fever, it can be scary and challenging trying to get them cooled down.

Fever Reliever is a cooling head wrap that easily holds ice packs on one’s head so that they don’t fall off. The opening in the back of the gadget allows the user to slide cold packs into the front and back of the headband, and then secure the wrap on the head. It fastens via Velcro connectors, which are positioned toward the side of the head. The product can be used for either children or adults. A high fever means that staying hydrated is also very important, so backers might want to check out Square Bottle and Cirkul.

This campaign seeks to raise $16,000 by March 4. For $15, backers get one product with an expected delivery in April of this year.


Pinblock is a building toy that goes above and beyond, not meant for pinheads

Most building toys help kids learn about construction, engineering and spatial fundamentals. However, many of these toys are limited in the types of structures that can be made with them.

Pinblock promises to change all that. These small building blocks use a series of anchors and pins that fit together. On the campaign, the creators demonstrate just how many different things can be made using Pinblock. They’ve used their product to create planes, animals and even the Empire State Building. The shape of Pinblocks is what sets it apart from similar toys, allowing it to be melded into anything.

Backerjack has seen many building block toys over the past year, all promising versatility. And, for the most part, they all deliver. Pinblock is another example of this. It’s certainly a little bit more flexible than other toys, but doesn’t do much else to set itself apart. Still, for a donation of $40 backers can have a set of 500 pieces in random colors for delivery in May 2015. Pinblock is looking to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter.


CoordiMate helps math lovers coordinate their Cartesians, stamps graphs neatly

An important part of any math curriculum is learning about graphs. The Cartesian coordinate system is taught so that kids can learn all sorts of important facts about algebra and dimensions. However, drawing endless graphs can be annoying and yield sloppy results.

CoordiMate was designed for just such situations. This tiny tool is a self-inking stamp that seamlessly places a perfect Cartesian coordinate on any piece of graph paper. To use, just push down on the center for a neat graph. The ink dries quickly so that pencil mistakes can be easily erased without any smudges. This product is made from recyclable materials. It’s plastic and looks like a cross with a little face in the middle.

CoordiMate is a great tool for kids learning about math. The company should really consider marketing their product to schools so that kids can buy it directly at school. There’s no mention of how long the ink lasts or if there’s any way to refill it, a definite drawback. Still, for their own, backers can donate $15 for delivery in April 2015. Coordinate hopes to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter.


Phillup color-coded kids cups cut down on waste

It’s amazing how a cup collection seems to grow in each child’s room like a massive weed, and how that seems to sprawl into many others rooms in the house. Phillup was created to help control the outrageous number of cups that get used by kids on a daily basis and cut down on the frequency of washing them.

The hangable kid cup consists of a cup with a loop that can be hung on a matching hook. The cups come in several colors, so they can be color-coded and each child assigned a color. Then they can just reuse their cup throughout the day when drinking water. The cups are also BPA-free and dishwasher safe.

This does seem to offer a solution to a pretty common problem, though there is also the option of just buying plastic cups and writing each child’s name on it with a permanent marker. Backers with little ones might also like to check out WetHeads and Puggle. This campaign seeks to raise $30,000 on Kickstarter. Backers get one product for $8, with an expected delivery of May 2015.


Playpress toys help kids build things, gender neutrality makes it fun for all

Kids love using their imaginations to build fun worlds in which they can play. That’s why building toys are so popular with children. These toys give kids the chance to make their own rules and discover new ways to have fun.

Playpress is one such building kit. This kit features flat pieces that fit together to making buildings and cars. Each set comes with different people too for children to play with. Playpress boasts that it’s gender neutral so it’s fun for all kids to play with. These toys are made from 100% recyclable cardboard.

This product is one of those toys great for younger kids. The materials aren’t harmful and the kits make it easy to build specific things. Those who enjoy Playpress may also want to check out WoodyMac. One Playpress building kit will cost backers a £13 (~$20) donation with estimated delivery in February 2015. This building toy is hoping to raise £7,500 (~$11,300) on Kickstarter.

Cycling Kids/Babies

ZumZum balance bike teaches tykes to zoom along in safety

Balance bikes for young children have remained generally unchanged since their inception in the mid 1800’s: they employ seats that gradually rise up until it the child is too big for it, at which point they can move on to an actual bike with ease. Just because they work as well as they do doesn’t mean they aren’t due for an upgrade, which is exactly what the ZumZum does.

Made from durable birch plywood, the ZumZum is the balance bike for the age. Made from three main components, the handlebar, frame, and wheels, the ZumZum is one of the lightest on the market at only 7.5lbs. The birch plywood and the product’s overall design facilitate natural suspension disconnected from the ground, so that children can avoid potentially damaging shock to their still developing lower backs.

ZumZum is as much a toy as it is a bike, so indoor and outdoor use is encouraged with its non-marking rubber tires. An interesting addition is the NFC tag built into the frame that, when tagged, displays information about the owner and the warranty of the bike. Useless for the most part, but a nice touch. Early birds can grab the ZumZum for $149, while everyone else will pay $199. The $50,000 campaign is looking to get this product shipped by March and April of 2015.

NextGen Bikes, LLC have created something that is fairly unique. Smart, sleek design come together to streamline a tried and true design. As tried and true as it may be, kids have proven to not have become any easier to deal with, so prospective backer/parents giving this the look over may want to also consider the Follow Me Bicycle Handle as well.


PlexiSketch allows for erasable note taking, saves paper in the process

While most tablets and smartphones offer some great conveniences, including a place to take and store notes, sometimes it’s nice to jot down ideas and make quick sketches in a non-electronic way.

PlexiSketch is a portable dry erase board made from laser cut Plexiglas and has hand beveled edges. Its rubber grips allow for one-hand writing simplicity. In addition, it’s compatible with either dry or wet erase markers. The portable note taking board is slightly larger than a standard piece of copy paper at 8.5 x 11.37 inches, and is only 1/8” thick, so it fits easily in a briefcase, backpack, or large purse.

Where portability is concerned, there is some question as to how to keep the notes from smearing when toted out of an office environment. However, it may serve as a useful way for moms with children who are really too small for electronic devices to keep their kids occupied without needing to have paper or a coloring book on hand. This campaign seeks to raise $5,000 on Kickstarter. Early bird backers get one product for $14 with an expected delivery of April 2015.