My daughter Summer is massively into her sport. After a wonderful season of summer nippers, the cooler months have seen my six-year-old running around on the soccer field, learning new skills and burning her bountiful amounts of energy.
What I didn’t realise was that along with winter soccer comes the wash-outs. Unlike they used to do in my childhood days (the old rain, hail or shine rule), the council is very quick to shut down the fields forcing all activity to come to a halt, often 2-3 weeks at a time.
Any parent of an active child will understand exactly what a rainy day inside means – a bored, often irritated child who just wants to play and run around. It’s like keeping a rat in a cage! On the flipside they can also take a liking to lounging around watching TV or complaining about the aforementioned boredom. Predicting which way they will go is near impossible.
Much to my delight, I got to bring home Fisher-Price's Think & Learn Smart Cycle for Summer to try out. The bike gives kids (aged three to six) the ability to move, play and learn all at the same time, all while interacting with educational games on a screen. So did it save Summer's rainy day blues? Let's test it out.
Just like a lot of toys, there is some construction required to get the Smart Cycle up and running but it's very self-explanatory thanks to the information leaflet and the humble screwdriver. The buttons, joystick and display stickers were already in their places and all in all the build only took hubby about 10 minutes in total.
Summer is considered tall for her age and thankfully, due to the adjustable padded seat, hubby made sure that she could sit comfortably on the bike and pedal freely. He also attached the tablet holder at the front safely secure the iPad. What's great is that the holder is adjustable to fit other sized tablets so we aren't just restricted to the Apple kind.
As hubby sat back admiring his handiwork, I downloaded the Smart Cycle Mission to Tech City App on the iPad, which houses all of the games.
I stole a glance at Summer as she curiously circled the bike. She ran her hands along the strong red and silver frame, which was made with steel to withstand the rough and tumble ways of tiny hands and feet. She then poked the softness of the seat and said under her breath "This is sooooo cool". I love the whispers of kids when they think no-one's listening.
Eager to get started, I inserted the required batteries into the Wi-Fi box, and with the flick of a switch and a swipe to ignite Bluetooth, connected the bike up to the iPad. The LED display lights came to life and so did Summer's face.
The tablet holder is perfectly positioned in Summer's line of sight, so when she jumped on she could easily look at the screen and select her way to play; drive, race or fun games and puzzles.
Summer chose the Driving option, which saw her saddle up as a blue koala navigating a world of letters.
At first, she wasn't sure why the game wasn't doing anything until she gave the pedals a bit of a spin. Cottoning on quickly, she realised that she wasn't able to play unless she pedalled, varying her speeds and steering the handlebars to take her where she wanted to go. It was a brilliant discovery that she absolutely loved. The more she pedalled, the more she could learn and challenge herself.
The learning element of the Smart Cycle really impressed me. Each time Summer collected a letter she announced what she found and egged herself on to reach the next one faster than before. She wasn't just enjoying pedalling, she was involved in the game and loved the challenge. I have never seen her have such positive, engaging screen time, all while learning and exerting her six-year-old energy.
Just while she was collecting a 'G', her cousins knocked on the door. Heading straight to the loungeroom to see where all the excitement was coming from, Summer (reluctantly) let her cousin hop on the bike for a turn. Hubby, always keen to show the kids something cool, switched the viewing experience over from the iPad to our Smart TV, bringing the game to life on the 'big screen'. It was suddenly a group experience, with the kids laughing and trying to out-do each other alphabetically.
The Smart Cycle Apple has a great range of games for all ages, incorporating letters, spelling, and reading. As Summer gained success, the game got a little tougher, pushing her mind (and legs) further.
Screen time has in the past been a 'colourful' conversation for us, but the Smart Cycle definitely gives me peace of mind because she's not just "sitting with technology" – Summer is mentally stimulated while in an active state.
Since having the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Cycle, the lounge room is a lot quieter as Sum and hubby have moved the bike to the spare bedroom. All I can hear now is them animatedly chatting as she pedals her heart out and he encourages her to try different games. It melts my heart to hear them spending time together learning and laughing.
Soccer wash-outs are no longer dreaded in our house. The biggest challenge now is pulling names out of a hat so that her soccer friends can all have a turn when it rains!
How to you keep your little ones entertained on a rainy day? Share your tips below!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Fisher-Price™.
Preschoolers. They’re full of energy, fascinated by technology and ready to learn. The new Think & Learn Smart Cycle from Fisher-Price keeps little minds and bodies active, as children pedal their way to learning adventure, creating a positive screen-time experience that’s both fun and educational.