VTech Toys Blog

Discover, Play, & Explore!

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

In parenting articles, you read so much about the developmental skills that children should master, the words they should know, and the math concepts they should have down by certain ages. But we don’t talk nearly enough about tech knowledge. And I don’t mean how to use a mouse, or the fact that control/Z is the best ever keyboard command.

More like, the big important ideas about technology that will carry your kids safely and smartly through life. Because what we really want, even more than “tech-savvy” kids, is to raise good digital citizens, as we always say on Cool Mom Tech.

When your kids are old enough to start tapping your tablet screen, they’re old enough to start understanding some basics about technology. With that here are 5 really important things you can teach your kids from a very early age.


1. Technology is a tool that can help us do positive things.

We can’t emphasize this enough: When your kids see technology in a positive way, they’ll put it to use in positive ways.

So let’s help our kids make explicit connections between technology and its positive effects.

Video chat connects us with grandparents and far-away friends. Smartphones can untether parents from our desks, so we can spend more time with our kids – even if we have to check in from time to time. Cars have rear view cameras to keep us safe on the road. Apps can help us explore passions and improve skills of all kinds. Digital photos help us preserve memories. Video cameras let us tell stories, and to explore and express our creativity.

(Psst, that’s one of the reasons we’ve recommended VTech®’s KidiZoom® camera, and now, the KidiZoom®Creator Cam, which lets you do even more.)

As parents, we must be careful of the language we use when we talk to our kids about tech. If they only hear us describing tech as bad, scary, or dangerous, they pick up on our fear. While we want to keep them safe, we don’t want them to miss out on so many of the incredible things that kids can do with technology, and all the ways it can help kids flourish and grow.

2. Take good care of your technology!

Just as with owning a pet, owning technology comes with responsibility. Talk to your kids about cases and pouches, explain how to safely wrap cables and keep ports clean, show them how to clean their screens, talk about where laptops and other gadgets go when they’re through (i.e. not on the floor, thanks), show them how to turn off devices to save power, and above all, make sure your kids always see you taking good care of your own technology.

Your own example is the best way for kids to really learn this point.

3. Some tech is more age-appropriate than others

We know that saying no can be hard for parents. (It’s so much more fun to say yes, we get it!) But it’s important for kids to understand limits and boundaries early on, especially when it comes to technology.

Don’t just turn on parental controls, explain to your kids they exist for their own safety and protection. Explain the purpose of ratings for apps and videos, and why no, your second-grader can’t download that 18+-rated FPS game or teen-targeted social media app.

The same goes for the gadgets they may ask for – we generally don’t hand kindergarteners a $500 smartphone of their very own and send them to school with it. The same goes for our own cameras, headphones, and other high-end technology. That’s why we love gadgets specifically designed for kids, like the KidiZoom Creator Cam. It lets kids take the same photos and high-def videos they see us taking, only using a durable, kid-proof camera design that has parental safeguards built right in.

KidiZoom Creator Cam even offers kids lots of the functionality that’s appealing to them about social media apps, like fun animated backgrounds, green screen effects, time-lapse, and stickers. Only in this case, sharing their creations can only be done by parents, in a safe and appropriate way. Phew.

4. Not all screen time is the same.

It’s easy for parents to complain about time kids spend on screens – and for good reason. But balance matters. Not just in terms of off- and on-screen time, but we want our kids to differentiate between active and passive screen time.

Doodling with a drawing app, practicing calligraphy on a tablet, video-chatting with cousins, researching the stars in the night sky, playing math games, editing videos made with the KidiZoom Creator Cam – those are all active screen time activities that can be fantastic for kids’ brains. That’s the kind of tech use we should be encouraging and applauding as parents.



5. If you have a question, you can always ask a parent.

More than anything, what kids need to understand most about tech is that we’re always here for them. For any reason, any time at all, no matter what.

Whether they don’t know how to use a particular feature on a gadget or see something online that makes them uncomfortable or feels wrong, they should feel safe coming to us first as parents.

But to get to this point, it’s so important for us to keep lines of communication open with our kids.

And hey, if we don’t know an answer to a question, we can look it up together. Your kids don’t expect you to know everything. There’s always going to be a lot of new things to learn as we go along.

And hey, isn’t that basically all of parenting?



Liz Gumbinner is the co-publisher of the popular websites for parents Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. She also co-hosts  the award-winning Spawned parenting podcast with her partner Kristen Chase, as well as the brand new Out Tech Your Kids podcast which provides tech-positive answers to parents' top questions in 15 minutes each week. Liz can been seen discussing parenting trends, gifts, technology, and culture on shows including NBC's TODAY, CNN, GMA, Nightline, Martha Stewart, and more. She lives and parents her two teen daughters in Brooklyn.




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Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Children thrive with predictable schedules. As a former elementary teacher and now a consultant that works in elementary classrooms, I can't tell you how many times I have heard "When is lunch?" or "How much longer until recess?". Any experienced teacher will tell you how important it is to have a schedule displayed in the classroom to help students navigate through their day. I was always so excited to get to our time unit when I taught second grade just so I could encourage my students to figure out when lunch was happening and how much longer they had until recess by using our classroom clock.


Now that so many students are learning online at home and have very detailed schedules to follow, I think it is important for parents to make sure children are familiar with their daily schedule and take part in figuring out whenthey need to sign-on to participate in live online lessons and how much longer they have until their next break. Here is a sample schedule for an elementary student. Notice how this student has to sign-in for live lessons three different times on a Monday:



For any child (even an adult!) that is a lot to manage. I can't even imagine what parents are doing who have multiple children. Time management has to be on point!

But schedules like these really are nothing new. Kids are busy. Between school, sporting events, extra help and other extracurricular activities, kids are constantly on the go. How can we help them manage their busy schedules?

Using the KidiZoom® Smartwatch DX2 to Manage Busy Schedules

Recently I discovered VTech®'s KidiZoom® Smartwatch DX2 and it is an absolute game changer for any parent who is juggling different schedules at home. This kid-friendly smartwatch lets children tell time, set reminders and timers, take pictures and videos, play games and more! It includes two cameras that allow children to capture everything from action videos to selfies, which would be great for academic photo hunts. Children will love the games that come ready to play and involve augmented reality. Kids can also use the smartwatch's motion sensor for active play challenges or to track steps, especially when they need movement breaks throughout the day. There are so many uses for this smartwatch!

What I especially like about this versatile smartwatch is that kids have the ability to manage their own schedules by easily accessing:

● both a digital and analog clock

● timers

● alarms

● reminders

● stopwatch

● calendar

All of the tools mentioned above can truly help kids take ownership of their schedules and feel in charge. I like how a child can try to read the analog time and then double check it by quickly tapping the screen to switch over to a digitalformat. This is great for self-checking and kids will no longer have to confirm with an adult if they were reading their watch correctly. The watch will even read the time aloud when the speech button is pressed.



Children can set alarms or reminders to be notified when they have to login to their next online meeting.



The smartwatch's calendar can help kids understand the days of the week and when the weekend or fun future events are approaching. Parents can ask their child questions like "What day of the week will the 15th be?" or "What was the date two days ago?". Their kids can quickly pull up their calendar to help them answer correctly. Something like this could be turned into a search and find "game" when in the car or waiting at the doctor's office.


The timer and stopwatch could be used to track independent reading time and other activities. Get the kids up and moving by having them count how many one-legged hops they can do in 15 seconds or how many seconds it takes them to do 10 jumping jacks.



Truly the possibilities are endless!

I highly recommend the KidiZoom® Smartwatch DX2 for any child 4+.



Julie Smith is an Instructional Technology Consultant from Saline, Michigan and also works with 826 Michigan in the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Public Schools. She is the author of the blog The Techie Teacher®. Julie holds a National Board Certification in Early Childhood Literacy, is a certified Reading Specialist, spent ten years as an elementary classroom teacher and was an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for several years when she lived in Virginia.

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Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Do you remember being so sad and stressed at the thought of your maternity leave ending and having to send your baby to daycare? You started crunching the numbers seeing if it were remotely possible for you to stay home a little longer or maybe not go back to work at all.


What about when that dreadful day finally arrived and you felt the warm tears sliding down your cheeks and blurring your vision as you tried to undo the car seat straps knowing you could no longer delay the inevitable. It was time to hand your little baby over to someone else, maybe even a perfect stranger, and hope you’d left enough breast milk and that someone would hold your baby throughout the day and not let him or her cry too long.

On that day, just like the days leading up to it, you wished for nothing more than to be able to stay at home with your baby. Oh, how wonderful it would be if you could just work from home!

Does this sound familiar?

Now, fast forward.

Congratulations, your wish has been granted; you get to work from home! But you’re not enjoying it as much as you thought you would. You’ve tried everything, but you can’t seem to manage to keep your child entertained, stay on top of your work obligations, and keep you and your house from falling apart. You need HELP! And no, paying someone else to come into your home and watch your kids is not an option.

You just want to know how to work from home with kids and be successful.

Sound about right?

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and it can be done. So, today I want to give you five tips to get work done at home with a baby or toddler.

Just to give you some context, my day job can’t be done from home, but I do manage to run a business working at home as a single mom to a 3-year-old. I say this to let you know I truly do get it, I’m doing it.

Let’s get started!

How to work from home without childcare

1. Be realistic and remain flexible

Working from home is not the same as working at the office. For starters, you don’t usually take your baby to work and you and your husband typically work in different places. But at home, that’s not the case. EVERYONE is there with you.

Want to know a little secret?

Your other coworkers are dealing with the same thing. Even if they don’t have small children, they are still having to adjust to working from home. So cut yourself some slack and see what changes you can make to make things easier on you.

Is it possible to start your workday a little earlier than normal? That way you can take advantage of the time that the rest of the house is asleep and get your more daunting tasks done. Another option is to do the attention consuming tasks after your little one’s bedtime. This way you’re less likely to make mistakes.

When you have the opportunity to set the time for Zoom meetings, try to schedule them during nap time. You’ll be able to focus on what you’re doing and know that there are fewer chances of interruptions.

Don’t forget to be upfront and honest with your bosses. Let them know what you’re capable of doing in your current environment and how you intend to get everything done.

You don’t have to be afraid to pull out the mom card. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get your work done or that you’re asking for special favors. It just means you’ll have to be more creative than your counterparts and may have to get the bulk of your work done after hours.

2. Create a routine

Remember having mom home but working is new to your kids too. It’s hard for them to understand that mom has something to do besides focus on them. The best way to circumvent this is to create a routine.

According to Kaplan, routines give infants and toddlers a sense of security and stability. With everything else in their world changing, they are depending on you for some form of normalcy. That’s where your routine comes in.

Yes, you have to work. But if you think about it, your workday has a routine to it as well. You can use that when creating your working from home routine.

Divide your workday into three parts and in each part give yourself two 15-minute breaks where you give your baby or toddler your undivided attention. Be consistent!

There will be parts of your routine where kids will have to be independent. Make those times theme based. For example, after they eat breakfast, they will have an independent story time where they use their VTech® Touch and Teach Word Book™ to work on letters and words.

As you incorporate your routine and remain consistent with it, you’ll find you’re able to be more productive as your child requires less of your attention. He or she knows what’s coming next each part of the day and is mentally anticipating it.

3. Dedicate a space for your little one

Is there a room in your home that can be turned into a playroom? What about a small space in another room that can be dedicated to holding items for your baby?

Sometimes this can be created by temporarily removing your coffee table and allowing your baby or toddler to have open access to the center of your family room.

With a baby, another option could be placing all of his or her toys on a large blanket where he or she has open access.

The goal here is to allow your child freedom to have fun and move around, this way he or she is less likely to cry out for you and more likely to want to explore the environment.

Whether you chose an entire room or a small area, you want to make sure the space is safe. Remove anything that could be harmful and don’t leave your baby unattended on high surfaces.

4. Create your workspace close to your child

This may seem like you’re asking for trouble but sometimes little ones, toddlers specifically, just want to see that you are close by. Being able to lay eyes on you comforts them. They don’t have to be interacting with you at all but when they look up from what they are doing, seeing mom’s face allows them to keep going. If they don’t see you, that’s when they are more likely to get up and search for you.

With toddlers, it’s best if one of your spaces is enclosed. They just do better with physical boundaries. Try to give them an actual room to play in and create your workspace in an open area within eyesight. Even then, be sure to have a monitor in place.

On the other hand, try to be in the same room as your baby. It’ll give you both peace of mind.

5. Invest in educational toys

Many moms fear that the only way to truly survive working from home with little ones is to give in to screen time. Yes, it’s important that little ones are able to entertain themselves so that you can focus on your meetings and your deadlines, but screen time isn’t the only way to accomplish this.

My favorite way to keep my daughter occupied while I’m working from home is with educational devices. I don’t feel guilty about completing the work before me because she’s having fun and learning at the same time! She even tells me that she’s at work too!

Don’t worry, I’m going to share with you our favorites. They can be used to capture the attention of both babies and toddlers.

Learning toys for 1-year-olds

1. VTech® Chomp & Count Dino™

We love this product because it introduces shapes, numbers, and food recognition. Your 1-year-old may not get everything it’s trying to teach him or her initially, but the repetitive play will definitely get the ball rolling. What’s going to capture your 1-year-old’s attention from the start is the brightly colored play pieces and the ability to pull the dinosaur around the room.

Once little ones tire from feeding the dinosaur and taking it on walks, they’ll get a kick out of hitting the buttons and dancing to the short songs.

As a parent you’ll love it because clean-up is a breeze. The dinosaur has a built-in compartment that can store the eight play pieces.

This dinosaur will be a part of your family way past your child’s first birthday. My 3-year-old still gets a kick out of feeding the dinosaur and taking him on walks. She also loves saying the color and name of the food items and having the dinosaur confirm it for her.


2. VTech® Ultimate Alphabet Activity Cube™

This has so many different parts, your tiny tot will be entertained for hours. Your child will be introduced to letters of the alphabet, shapes, colors, animal names and sounds, numbers, and counting. The list just goes on! He or she will also get five different types of entertainment with each side of the cube.

Get this, not only are children passively and actively learning but they’ll also be working on fine motor and gross motor skills too!

Before I forget, you don’t have to wait until your child turns one to bring this out. You can start using it as early as nine months!

There is truly something in this for every age group which makes this another item I can’t keep my 3-year-old away from. Every time she plays with it, she discovers something else she can do. Right now, her favorite thing to do is stack the letter cubes to make words.

This is another learning product that comes with storage so no mess to worry about!


3. VTech® Touch and Teach Word Book™

Ready for your little ones to start talking non-stop? That’s exactly what will happen once they start playing with this! So what is this exactly?

It’s an interactive book that teaches little ones the words for different food items, common things found in the home, articles of clothing, toys, and zoo animals. They will be exposed to more than 100 words, really broadening their vocabulary.

The best part is as they grow, the book will grow with them. You can change the mode to fit children’s current level or set it a little ahead to challenge them a bit. They have the option to identify words, learn which letters certain words begin with, or play songs.

It’s been fun watching my daughter progress through it and see how much she’s retained.

Learning toys for toddlers and preschoolers

1. VTech® Explore & Write Activity Desk™

I originally purchased this for my daughter when she was 2-years-old and it was one of her favorite Christmas gifts. She and I were both amazed at all of the things she could do with it: identify parts of the body, play music, recognize colors and fruits, as well as work on number recognition and writing.

It took us until this week to discover we were missing out on another feature of the activity desk, using it as an easel! The desk transforms very easily into an easel with a chalkboard providing even more hours of fun.

Now at 3-years-old, she loves the activity desk because it makes her feel like she’s at work like mommy. Her favorite thing to do is use the “dial a friend” mode so she can pretend she is having her work meetings too.

This desk is a must have if you’re working from home with a toddler. My daughter is learning so much and having fun at the same time. Now she’s begging me for more learning pages!


2. VTech® Drill & Learn Toolbox™

When we aren’t watching one of my daughter’s favorite shows, our T.V. stays on the Property Brothers. This toolbox comes in handy when she’s in her playroom trying to imitate one of the twins. It has toy versions of everything you can expect to find in a real toolbox from the hammer and nail down to the drill and drill bits.

At this age kids are all about role play. This learning toy gives them the opportunity to do just that while keeping them happy and occupied while you work. I never knew we had so many things that needed fixing!

3. VTech® Helping Heroes Fire Truck Station™

My toddler is obsessed with fire trucks, but we’ve never been able to find one big enough for her to truly enjoy until we came across this one. The VTech® Helping Heroes Fire Truck Station™ is actually two items in one. It’s a fire truck but it also becomes a fire station. The sound effects are very realistic (don’t worry it’s not too loud) and with its different modes, she’s thoroughly entertained. All I’ve been hearing since she’s gotten it is “I’m coming to the rescue!”. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

The fire station also comes with two Firefighters, Fiona and Frankie. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Frankie had skin that looked like mine. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.


Can you work from home and look after a child?

You’ve been wanting nothing more than to be home with your baby since the day you laid eyes on each other. Now you’ve finally gotten that chance. It’s scary, it’s foreign, and it’s been a struggle so far.

Just like becoming a mom was a transition, so is becoming a work from home mom. Now you know exactly what you need to do to pull this off and start living your dream. Head on over to VTech® and invest in your child’s education and your sanity! You’ve got this!!!


Keyona is a Mom, Nurse Anesthetist, and the author of the blog ProfessionalMomma.com. She helps working moms integrate their work life with their home life allowing them the opportunity to be the best mom and woman they can be. By simplifying motherhood, she helps working moms have it all.

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