Recently, I did something I never thought I’d do as a parent: I put an Alexa device in my child’s room.
Although I blame the constant lack of sleep and alone time for this rash decision, I can’t say I actually regret it.
It could be the months of social isolation talking, but it has been a pretty fun tool for my kiddo to use when I REALLY just need five more minutes before I get out of bed.
Admittedly, I originally purchased an Echo Glow and an Alexa so my daughter could easily control her own night light, thus ending what we lovingly refer to as the “night light wars.” I didn’t envision it being useful in any other way at the time, but boy was I wrong!
First, it works as an intercom that she can easily use to talk to me. As a mom, this is my favorite feature — hands down. I didn’t know how much I “needed” this until it was already set up and ready to go. Honestly, I’m just happy I don’t need to yell upstairs anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way implying that my daughter actually listens to me. But knowing I’m heard is a step in the right direction.
I was comforted by the available parental controls that allow me to turn off all applications unless I specifically approve them. Obviously, we turned off her ability to purchase anything — that would be a complete disaster! But, we did approve of some specific “Alexa Skills” that she loves and we tolerate because, well, we’re tired.
These are a few of our new favorite Alexa games that my preschooler has been having a blast with!
“Alexa, play Blues Clues”
Using “Blues Clues & You” characters, you can play an interactive version of Blues Clues while practicing critical thinking and listening skills. The game requires you to talk back and figure out what the clues are, and it’s honestly really cute!
“Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke”
This is one of our favorites, even though most of the jokes go way over my preschooler’s head. I, however, usually think they’re hilarious! Definitely corny, but also very funny.
“Alexa, play freeze dance”
It’s a classic, and I have to say I don’t miss pressing the pause button myself! We use this skill the most while we’re in between virtual school sessions. Let’s face it, sometimes you just need to dance it out!
“Alexa, open the Magic Door”
We love Magic Door because it’s an interactive and original storytelling game. Instead of just telling the story, Magic Door allows the kids to help make up the story. Some of the stories can get a little bit “spooky,” but you always have the option to restart!
“Alexa, open Bedtime Story”
Turns out, this is one of my new favorite skills. We love reading books at bedtime, but there’s always a small gap of time between when my kiddo goes up to her room and we come to tuck her in. Playing a bedtime story helps settle her in, and she’s definitely calmer by the time we come up to do our bedtime routine!
“Alexa, open Animal Workout”
Animal Workout is one of my favorites for a rainy day, and it’s a staple in every preschool classroom. The “skill” encourages children to act like a specific animal, and it’s a great opportunity to work on some gross motor skills.
“Alexa, open Daily Dinosaur”
This adorable feature gives daily facts about dinosaurs! It’s especially helpful if you tend to “skip over” pronouncing the really elaborate dinosaur species names at bedtime.
“Alexa, open Curiosity”
Curiosity has an endless amount of useful and fun facts and educational stories for kids (and parents). We have a lot of “why” questions in our house, and this is a great outlet for when you just can’t handle answering one more.
“Alexa, open Sesame Street”
Playing hide and seek with Elmo and doing the letter of the day is perfect for the preschool crowd. We open this skill at least once per day, and right now it’s perfect for “Mama has to make a phone call in between virtual school sessions, and I need five minutes of relative quiet.”
“Alexa, how many days until…”
This is a classic but exceptionally useful tool that takes the pressure off moms to remember how many days until the next birthday, school vacation, or holiday.
“Alexa, open Trolls”
Admittedly, this is better for elementary school kids, but it’s still fun for my preschooler most of the time. In this musical skill, you build your own song and then play it for Troll Village. You can even save the song you create to play endlessly in the future!
“Alexa, ask Pikachu to talk”
With the Pikachu skill, your preschooler can fulfill all their Pokemon dreams and have in-depth conversations with Pikachu. This skill is definitely not my favorite to listen to, but it lets me work in peace for several minutes at a time.
“Alexa, start Esme and Roy”
Also made by Sesame Street studios, this skill launches an interactive pretend play adventure that strengthens imaginations. My favorite part, admittedly, is the “calm down song” that can be launched at any time during the adventure if things get a little too silly.
And finally, as a bonus, don’t forget my preschooler’s absolute favorite: “Alexa, play ‘It’s Raining Tacos.’”
If you haven’t experienced this song yet, well, your Taco Tuesdays are missing out.