A Colorful Clock for Toddlers

[Don] and his wife were looking for a way to teach their two-year old daughter how to tell time. She understood the difference between day and night, but she wasn’t old enough to really comprehend telling the actual time. [Don’s] solution was to simplify the problem by breaking time down into colored chunks representing different tasks or activities. For example, if the clock is yellow that might indicate that it’s time to play. If it’s purple, then it’s time to clean up your room.

[Don] started with a small, battery operated $10 clock from a local retailer. The simple clock had a digital readout with some spare room inside the case for extra components. It was also heavy enough to stay put on the counter or on a shelf. Don opened up the clock and got to work with his Dremel to free up some extra space. He then added a ShiftBrite module as a back light. The ShiftBrite is a high-brightness LED module that is controllable via Serial. This allows [Don] to set the back light to any color he wants.

[Don] already had a Raspberry Pi running his DIY baby monitor, so he opted to just hijack the same device to control the ShiftBrite. [Don] started out using a Hive13 GitHub repo to control the LED, but he found that it wasn’t suitable for this project. He ended up forking the project and altering it. His alterations allow him to set specific colors and then exit the program by typing a single command into the command line.

The color of the ShiftBrite is changed according to a schedule defined in the system’s crontab. [Don] installed Minicron, which provides a nice web interface to make it more pleasant to alter the cron job’s on the system. Now [Don] can easily adjust his daughter’s schedule via web page as needed.


Learning letters, particularly R, F, I, & D


After [yohanes] picked up a toy at a yard sale – a Leap Frog Letter Factory Phonics – he thought he could do better. The toy originally asked a child to find a letter, and after digging one of 26 plastic characters out of a plastic tub and placing them on the Letter Factory’s sensor, would play a short musical ditty. [yohanes]’ version does the same, but because he made it himself it is infinitely more expandable.

The letters for [yohanes]’ version are RFID tagged. This, combined with a cheap RFID module and a bluetooth module means a Raspberry Pi can read RFID cards from across the room. From there, it’s a simple matter of writing up some Python to ask his toddler for a letter, reading the bits coming from a bluetooth, and keeping score.

The build isn’t over by a long shot. [yohanes] still needs to make his build multilingual by adding Indonesian and Thai. There’s also a possibility of adding a spelling game to make it more interesting.

Toddler android

We came across a couple of videos of this toddler android. It sits up, rolls over, and responds to humans around it using visual, audio, and sensor inputs. After the break you will see that the movements are quite like that of a young child. The giveaway is the weight of the robot which is evident when its handlers trying to help it get untangled from that blanket. It seems to respond to individuals around with a smile and a twinkle of its… errr… camera eye. We wonder if it would find delight in knocking down some dominoes.

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Slothra, Arduino powered plushy sloth


[Daniel] sent in this project. He tells us it’s an Arduino powered kid’s toy that “furiously swings his arms” when you squeeze his chest. As you can see in the video on the site, furious is up for interpretation. It is a sloth though, maybe that’s sloth furious.  While it is cute and we do applaud the effort, anyone with children will agree that this is a step down in destruction for a 3 year old. You’re going to have to spice it up a bit, or give it a timer and make it free standing, make it roar or something to make it more appealing.  What recommendations do you guys have to improve this toy?

Toddler computer remote

[Killerdark] has built a simple remote for his toddler to control videos on a PC. He gutted a USB number pad, built a new enclosure with the necessary buttons clearly labeled, and mapped the buttons in software.  He could have possibly done better with larger color coded buttons, but really, it seems to work well as is. This reminds us of the giant iPod remote from back in 2006. Good job [Killerdark]