Top chef for tots

New smart toy makes playtime better by making cooking for kids safe, simple, and interactive

All of the sizzling sounds, but none of the burns Little Tikes via Popgadget
Although it isn't technically an appliance or a kitchen gadget, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to sound off about the MagiCook Kitchen by Little Tikes, a toy set that comes with several food look-a-likes that are embedded with RFID tags.

Radio-frequency identification is a way for an electronic receiver to identify items with radio waves. This means that the toy can sense when Junior pops something into the oven, and will respond with phrases in up to three languages that are appropriate to the meal of the moment.

Why is this kind of thing important? Well, for one thing, we can all be excited that RFID technology is being used for something slightly more fun than inventory or military purposes (this isn't to discredit some of the really cool things that it can be used for: an e-book that explains some of the history of RFID and various uses can be found here). However, there are other reasons for investing in a high-tech toy like this for your little chef: research has shown that children who learn how to cook at young ages could be more likely to make healthy food choices later. Also, once your child grows accustomed to cooking on the MagiCook, they might be well prepared to safely join you in the kitchen for some real cooperative cooking efforts. Cooking with you not only means spending time together, but also giving them the satisfaction that they're doing something nice for the family.

I know you all have seen the older generation of this toy...you know, the one with the plastic spice rack and spatulas and the toaster, complete with foam bread? Well, this version has the same wholesome family values attached to it, but with some nice new upgrades. Check it out. Your child will thank you.

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