TECH Alexa Skills

 

WHAT CAN YOUR CHILD ASK ALEXA?

With virtual assistants integrating into our family life, it’s no surprise that for some children, one of their first words might be “Alexa.” In fact kids skills are becoming one of the fastest growing categories where even pre-illiterate children can easily master the voice activation process.  And yet with any new medium it is often hard to set apart the best and most informative, educational and entertaining applications from the worst. There are plenty of Amazon Alexa skills that have been made just for kids and indeed there are lots in the pipeline as they are arriving thick and fast as this medium takes off. Here we review some of the most popular ones to help you navigate your children to the most appropriate and entertaining….

 

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“Alexa, play Would You Rather for Family.”

Would You Rather for Family is a simple but fairly addicting game where you make a choice between two lighthearted and silly situations. The statistics that the skill gives after each answer to inform you if other players agree with your decision is nice feedback but in general the children seemed to get bored after a few questions and the adults found it rather silly and tiresome!

 

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“Alexa, ask Pikachu to talk.”

 

This has to be one of the most engaging kids skill we’ve seen. It’s so simple but works well as the recorded voice actor talks “nonsense pikachu speak” that engages Pokemon fans and pre-schoolers in crazy funny conversations.

 

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“Alexa, open Lemonade Stand.”

The classic simulation game of our childhoods becomes a voice adventure as you try to successfully run your very own lemonade stand. In this never-ending game, you can earn experience badges as you hit milestones pretending to be your very own lemonade stand tycoon. In summary this is a dressed up maths game that is rather repetitive and will not hold kids attention for long.

 

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“Alexa, open Little Astronaut Test.”

This delightful skill is actually part of over 250 skills aimed at 6 – 12 year old’s to help develop their career aspirations. Research has shown that early aspirations make a difference throughout a child’s adult career and this skill helps them to do that whilst fuelling their imagination. In a playful way it aims to get children to think about the tasks and skills that a job entails. It also builds their understanding of the education and training required. Finally it focuses on raising self esteem, giving them a can-do attitude and showing a pathway for further development. Get your child to think of their dream job and just ask Alexa! E.g Little Policeman Test, Little Footballer Test, Little Artist Test….

 

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“Alexa, play Baby Shark.”

 

Great for pre-schoolers as they will love the ease in which they can request this original Pinkfong Baby Shark song but parents beware as it’s an incredibly annoying song!

 

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“Alexa, play Headspace Bedtime Story.”

 

From the makers of Headspace, Headspace Bedtime Story intends to send your kiddos off to a peaceful dreamland with a guided meditation crafted especially for kids. Currently there only appears to be one story, although it does contain a variety of outcomes, but the concept is lovely and anything that helps settle the littles ones is worth a try.

 

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“Alexa, open Halloween Tricks.”

It may not be Halloween but this skill is such fun and it can be enjoyed any time of the year. Pure tongue in cheek entertainment, this skill allows children to scare family and friends into thinking there are ghostly spirits lurking in the house. It’s simple to play and infectiously amusing!

 

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“Alexa, open Amazon Storytime.”

 

Amazon now offers professionally-narrated stories for kids ages 5 to 12. We loved the fact that there is a huge collection to choose from and the stories are enriched with some great sound effects. This is a really helpful skill if you just need the kids to sit still and chill for a few minutes.

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“Alexa, start Kid’s Court”

 

Have a sibling or family argument you need to settle right now? Kids Court lets kids (and their parents!) settle their arguments in a fun way, while getting a peek into how the legal system works. When your kids fight over something, send them to Kids Court and Honorable Judge Lexy will help them sort it out.

 

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“Alexa, open Happy Thoughts.”

 

This is a lovely skill that will start your child’s day with a spring in their step. Targeted at children from ages 5 – 12 Happy Thoughts encourages positive thinking and raising self esteem. Designed alongside child coaching expert, Smiley Coach, the skill tackles day to day anxieties felt by many children and with the words read by a smiley 10 year old, this skill should really resonate with and help your child. A lovely skill.

 

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“Alexa, ask Silly Things to tell me to do something silly”

 

While the comments for this skill suggest its has some value as a form of cheap entertainment, we found it rather pointless and silly, not really one to encourage the children to get excited about. 

 

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“Alexa, Moo like a cow.”

 

If you can’t get your kid to calm down, maybe the bark of a dog, the squeal of a dolphin or the roar of a lion will do it. According to the Animal Sounds Alexa skill creator, users can ask to hear the sounds of a “baboon, bear, bobcat, cat, cow, coyote, hippopotamus, lemur, lion, spider, monkey, spider monkey, rooster—and more.” We also liked the fact that your child can ask Alexa for more information on the given animal. Entertaining and informative.

 

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“Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke”

 

Lighten the mood with a joke! Your kids will love interacting with Alexa, and she’ll wait for them to say “Who’s there” before spilling the silly punchline. You can also ask, “Alexa, tell me a joke” but be prepared for some pretty terrible puns.

 

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“Alexa, flip a coin.”

 

Need to quickly settle an argument or a decision? You don’t even need to dig for loose change in the sofa for this Alexa skill. We found this to be a really useful and productive skill – ideal for aiding quick decisions and resolving family and sibling conflicts.

 

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“Alexa, how far away is the moon”

 

You can ask Alexa all kinds of scientific facts, from how big the Earth is to the order of the planets, to how deep the ocean is. You can also ask geographic questions, too, such as state and world capitals. This is great for really inquisitive children.

 

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“Alexa, play Twenty Questions.”

 

This one is just as much fun for parents as it is for the kids. See how smart Alexa really is as she figures out what you’re thinking. Fun and engaging, it’s uncanny how Alexa can guess what’s in your mind!

 

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“Alexa, open Laugh Box”

 

Alexa’s Laugh Box will play all sorts of giggles and laughter. Some are a little freaky but  this simple skill is sure to amuse the kiddies.

 

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“Alexa, start Zoo Walk.”

 

Not only will the Alexa make interesting animal noises, she invites your curious kiddies to try and guess the animal that makes each sound. In doing so they complete the task and make it to the next level. This is a fun game that will entertain and engage the children as they compete to get to the higher levels.

 

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“Alexa, open The Magic Door”

 

This command will cue the eerie sound of a door creaking, which will launch Alexa straight into a choose-your-own-adventure-style story. Your kid will be immediately silenced so she can hear the story and make some quick decisions to keep it going the right way. Note: This one takes about 10 minutes, which makes it a nice wind-down tool after dinner and before bed.

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Feel free to add your own comments and share your favorite Amazon and Google Home skills in the comments below.

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