10 Gadgets to Make Your Child a Star This School Year


Support Cheapism: Do your shopping with our retail partners.

View as:


Back-to-school shopping these days doesn't stop at a new wardrobe, a new lunchbox, and a list of supplies. Kids also demand new technology, some of which is essential for keeping up with the rest of the class. Other electronics enhance learning outside the classroom and many are, well, just fun. School includes recess, right? The gadgets on this list start at less than $20 and culminate in a laptop under $200.

FIRE HD 6 ($99)

Many tablets for kids are too limited to be useful for school. The Amazon Fire HD 6 is a full-featured tablet with a high-definition screen. Amazon's FreeTime feature gives parents control over how kids use the tablet. They can create a custom profile for each child to set time limits and designate which apps, games, and books the child can access. The 6-inch size fits in small hands and the tablet comes in several colors.


It seems every kid wants a smartphone, but not every smartphone is suitable for kids. The Kurio phone is a fully functional Android phone built for children. It includes features that let parents filter online content, set limits for phone calls and other uses, and monitor the phone's location. The phone comes loaded with several apps and games, and users can add as many apps as they like from the Google Play store.


Fitness trackers have taken off in a big way. This colorful piece of wearable tech tracks kids' activities and encourages them to get moving. Parents can choose activity challenges for children, who earn reward points along the way. Kids can choose a virtual pet displayed on the screen to keep them company during exercise. They also learn a thing or two about healthy eating and caring for an animal by "bathing," "grooming," and "feeding" the pet. The water-resistant band is available in bright green, blue, and pink.


Children use a color-coded programming language to control this little robot's behavior. The idea is to make computer science seem less boring and easier for a curious young mind to grasp. The Ozobot Bit measures only about 1 inch in diameter and comes in silver or black.


Amazon's Kindle for Kids ereader bundle is designed with young people in mind. It has an easy-to-grip cover and 2 years of accident coverage courtesy of SquareTrade. The Kindle includes a variety of parental controls, including the ability to track kids' reading progress, and rewards children for reaching goals. The Kindle for Kids bundle includes a vocabulary-building feature and Word Wise, which pops up short definitions for difficult words.

MOFF ($55)

The Moff wristband plays downloadable sound effects. With this device, a stick becomes a magic wand, a pair of pencils becomes a drum, and empty hands play a very convincing air guitar. The Moff app is compatible only with iOS, but the company promises support for Android soon, as well as an ever-growing catalog of new sounds.


The See ‘n' Solve calculator is designed for budding math stars, with bright colors and large buttons. The screen shows the full equation as it's entered, rather than only the last number, to make it easier for kids to follow along. This simple calculator includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division operations.


The Kidizoom Smartwatch is more fun than functional, but it comes preloaded with four learning games, and users can download more games from VTech. Children can choose from more than 50 clock face designs. The smartwatch includes a voice recorder with special effects that modify how the voice sounds and a 0.3-megapixel camera that can record video.


A quadcopter isn't exactly educational, but given how fast drones are growing in popularity, learning to fly remotely may become a useful skill. At about 2 inches across, the Cheerson CX-10 Mini is about as small as a quadcopter gets. This colorful drone is simple and fun for beginners to use, and it's cheap enough that enthusiasts can buy a small fleet.

HP STREAM 11 ($199)

A student without a laptop is like a surgeon without a scalpel. But don't burden your child with a hefty machine or your budget with a hefty price. The Stream 11 is a small, lightweight, and affordable notebook. It relies on cloud storage and Internet-connected apps but runs a full version of Windows 8.1. The laptop includes Microsoft Office 365 Personal and 1 terabyte of online storage (via Microsoft OneDrive) free for a year, so it's ready for school right out of the box. The battery runs for up to eight hours, so it'll get through the school day with power to spare.