3 ways Google Home can make the back-to-school routine easier for your kids

They'll still need to get in bed on time though (sorry, kids).

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
3 min read

Google Home can help waking up and falling asleep less of a fight for families. 


The first few weeks of transitioning from the carefree summer months to scheduled school days are rough on kids and parents alike.  Fortunately, instead of suffering glares or groans of protest from your sleepy offspring, a creative Google Home routine might be the key to helping them wake up. Sorry kids, you'll still need to be in bed at a decent hour. 

Here are a few ways parents can use Google Home to make waking up more fun for kids. 

Nickelodeon alarms

Google added some of the characters from your kids' favorite Nickelodeon shows. Instead of Google's basic chime, you can ask Google to set a specific character-theme. You can pick between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the 2014 reboot), Lego City, Lego Life, Lego Friends and Hatchimals alarms. Just say "Hey Google, set a [show] alarm for [time]." 

Google will confirm the alarm and you'll hear from the show's character briefly. When the alarm goes off in the morning, music (generally the show's theme song, will be the alarm.) This will play until you or your child says "Hey Google, stop."

Next, a character will share a fun fact about the show, a joke or words of encouragement. My favorite one was Lego City's character Jake Early. His segment was structured like a news broadcast and told the listener to do their best today. 

Back to school
Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Customized routines

Most likely, you have your own bedtime and wake-up routines with your child, but Google Home can add a bit of novelty to it. Particularly, if your child has a Google Home in their room you can set up wake-up and bedtime routines personalized to them. Just add the device to your phone and set up voice match for you and your child. 

To make one for the morning open the Google Home app, make sure you're on your child's linked speaker, tap Routines > Manage Routines > Good Morning. 

After your child silences the alarm, whether it's a regular one or a Nickelodeon alarm, you can trigger the morning routine from your Google Home app or their device, or they can start it themselves. Choose from one of the default phrases ("Good morning," "Tell me about my day" or "I'm up,") or come up with your own ("Wake up, sleepyhead," for example). The commands have to be prefaced by "OK, Google." 

Boy sleeping
Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

From there, set up the routine to turn on lights, play some fun music, and remind them of the day's schedule (Google can wish them luck on a spelling test, remind them about a sleepover, wish them a good day, etc.)

The routines work for bedtime, too. The same process for good morning works here as well. Choose from default phrases like "Bedtime," "Goodnight" or "Time to hit the hay." But you can also set a unique phrase like "Sweet dreams, [your kid's name]." Just preface the commands with "OK Google." 

You, or your child, can set the alarm, choose any ambient sounds to play while they doze off and turn the lights off with their bedtime routine. 

Story time 

When it comes to winding down for the night, dialing back on screen time can make a difference. Story time is a something special that parents and caregivers can share with kids. Google Home as a read-along feature that brings books to life with sound effects and music. 

Angela Lang/CNET

The feature works with 16 Little Golden Book titles like Alice in Wonderland, Coco, Toy Story 3, Mulan, Frozen, Mickey's Christmas Carol and more. All the titles are $4-5 if you want to order the title on Google Express. 

If you already have to book, just say "Hey Google, read along with [book title]." You can download Ara the Star Engineer for free on Google Play to see how it all works. 

Just stay within six feet of the speaker and begin reading when you hear the music. You can stop the story at any time by saying "Hey Google, stop." 

Watch this: How to get discounts on back-to-school tech