Lego WeDo set provides hours of enjoyment and educational content.

If you have not had to weather the current HOT item storm this year, count yourself lucky.   Hatchimals and the NES Classic seem to be this year’s version of Tickle Me Elmo. Stores are selling out, people are scalping items and there are a lot of families that are searching for these toys.  Toys-R-Us has received infrequent shipments of these items.  However, you must be in line early to get one of the 30-40 that the store receives.  The sad part is, these are toys that kids may play with only a few times.  Seriously, how many times will a Hatchimal hatch?  I was lucky enough to get an NES classic this season, but it took waiting in line 2 hours before the store opened.  I was lucky number 27 out of a possible 34 NES classics.

What if there were other, better, toys available?  There are many toys that are available that are HOT items, but lesser-known. Growing up, it was a tradition in my family to receive a Lego set of some kind each Christmas.  I remember countless builds, tear-downs, and rebuilds.  Some years I would receive a big kit, and for others, the gift would be one of the smaller boxes.  It did not matter, I remember lying on my floor and brick building for hours.  Whether I was building a space kit, one of knights/dragons, superheroes or combining them into something even more unique, I had countless hours of enjoyment with my dad and one of my favorite toys.

Children's Christmas Ideas 2016 Part 1: LEGO WEDO 2.0

Often I find myself meandering through the LEGO aisles of Walmart, Target or Toys-R-Us.  I find myself in awe, looking at all of the varieties that are available to choose between.  The toy really has come a long way from when we were younger. There are Lego kits designed for girls, they have mechanical/Robotic Legos for the older kids and Duplo kits designed specifically for the younger children.  This Christmas, I invite you to look into the Lego WeDo 2.0 Core Kit.  You may not be able to find them in stores, but a quick search online will show you the merits of this kit. This is a set of Legos that not only fosters a love for building but also links the bricks to an interactive application.  As a Christmas gift, I do not know that I have found anything that would serve my children better.

The Lego WeDo 2.0 Core Kit comes in a blue plastic storage tote to sort and store your Lego kit.  This is an amazing convenience/bonus that lego provides to you.  This is the second kit in the series (thus the 2.0) and it enhances the storage/build idea by adding a LEGO storage tray.  How many times have you bought a lego kit, to turn around and then find a tote or a zip lock bag to store the pieces?  How often do you lose that one piece you need to complete the build?  The Lego WeDo 2.0 kit is fully self-contained and provides the means to keep the pieces you need together.  When you open the lid of the storage tote, you will notice the thin plastic rack with a variety of cutouts.  Simply attach the included LEGO diagram stickers to the tray and sort the pieces into their respective trays.  This will allow you to know where each piece is located and may cut down on the overall LEGO build time.

Children's Christmas Ideas 2016 Part 1: LEGO WEDO 2.0

Once you have the pieces sorted, and the stickers placed into the bin, you can start the fun part, the build.  This kit is not just a set of LEGOs. This is an interactive app based set of LEGOs, which allows you to build a little robot rover named Milo.  The kit was initially designed for classroom use, for second to fourth grade (Age 7-9).  With this kit, you will get 280 LEGO system building pieces, the WeDo 2.0 Smarthub (electronic system), medium motor, motion sensor, and tilt sensor.  The electronic Smarthub uses Bluetooth low energy to connect to your smart app wirelessly (another enhancement over WeDo 1.0).   Powered by 2 AA batteries, the dual I/O port hub connects to external motors and or sensors (anything within the Lego Power system), has LED with 10 different colors and you can control all of this through your iPad Lego WeDo 2.0 application.

Children's Christmas Ideas 2016 Part 1: LEGO WEDO 2.0The Core Set of LEGO WeDo 2.0 has all of the necessary components of the Get Started Project, plus the base and design library of the Curriculum pack.  The website notes that this kit offers 2 hours of classroom content, teaches you to build the Milo Science Rover, how to add motion sensors, tilt sensors, how to connect to another rover and allows for creative play with the application.  For the homeschooler, you can create games, set up obstacle courses or tasks to complete, allow students/children to run experiments and to use design skills, all while having fun.  The curriculum pack also has locations for write-ups, places to share designs and other integrated features.  This kit not only teaches children spacial building (Lego building) but also fosters information about programming (a current popular children toy trend).  The drag and drop web app system is really easy to understand and does a good job at allowing even the younger students to participate.  My 5 year old uses the application without any issues.

There are different Milo science Rover builds, for different activities.  You also have the opportunity to have cooperative events, if you have somebody that has another Lego WeDo 2.0 set. Overall, the kit is easy to use, easy to assemble and perfect for both the young and old in the home. The 2.0 set provides more pieces than the 1.0 set, Bluetooth connection instead of the USB connection, a storage/sorting tray, 280 pieces instead of 150 pieces and more opportunity for expansion.  I do wish that the application had more to do for the children.  I also wish that there was a memory/storage function on the HUB.  A suggestion would be a button that ran the program you created.  This would foster the hypothesize/build/test model.

Although pricey at around 150-160 dollars, this kit is a great way to introduce younger children to robotics.  As stated above, the 2.0 version is superior to the 1.0 version in that you no longer have USB connection (now Bluetooth low energy), and you have the ability to use both Android and IOS devices to control the Milo Rover. The drag and drop system works well with modern touch based devices, improving the interface for our young children, many of whom may learn to use tablets as they learn to walk.

Children's Christmas Ideas 2016 Part 1: LEGO WEDO 2.0

As stated above, when it comes to toys, I personally look for those that will provide multiple hours of enjoyment.  If I can include some educational component, this becomes even more of an enticement.  It is disappointing that you have to buy the extra software, but as a promotion, you can download the curriculum for free through the end of 2016.  I love everything LEGO and this is another reason to give this set a consideration.
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For more information, visit education.lego.com.
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