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6 smart tech toys

Our tech expert picks the season's best digital gifts to bolster learning and spark imaginations.

By GreatSchools Staff

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LeapPad 2 learning tablet

Ages: 4-9

Tempted to buy your young child a Nintendo DS 3D to help you survive long car rides? LeapFrog has a smart alternative: the LeapPad2 learning tablet offers engaging games and apps that entertain while teaching reading, math, and art. Kids can snap pictures with the camera, watch educational movies, draw on the touch screen, take care of virtual pets, and even create music. This tablet will even read a story and teach the listener to sound out words. As your child’s reading skills improve, the LeapPad automatically advances the challenge. The kids will be happily learning in the back seat, so you can focus on the road. (Last year's version, the LeapPad Explorer, won our 2011 Golden Apple Wild Card Award.) 

Bottom line: A touch screen tablet that makes gaming a learning experience — without hogging your entire holiday gift fund.