Editor’s pick: Originally published Jan. 8.
For the most part, this year's Consumer Electronics Show revolved around smart home technology and automated cars, but one other category that surprisingly took up a lot of space in the exhibition areas was educational toys for kids.
Companies from around the world brought their connected toys and showed off how they could better educate children in a fun and 21st century way.
According to NPD, the U.S. toy market grew to $18.24 billion in 2014 from $17.5 billion in 2013. And as of October, the market was on track to increase another 7% in 2015.
The opportunity for toy makers is even bigger when considering the shifting digital habits of children and parents' desire to keep digital activities productive and creative.
"As children spend more and more time interacting with digital devices, they don't have very many opportunities to create and experiment," MIT Media Lab's Mitchel Resnick recently told NPR.
"Oftentimes it's playing, clicking, consuming, as opposed to designing and expressing," Resnick said. "I would tell parents to look for either the apps or the toys where the child is in control. If it feels that the toy or tablet is in control, then I'd be much more cautious about it."
Here are six toys that were showcased at CES this week and demonstrate the growing and changing category.
1. The Code-A-Pillar
Mattel's (MAT) Fisher-Price unveiled Code-A-Pillar, a caterpillar that is made up of movable segments. Each segment has a different direction on it -- forward, right, left, or pause -- and the caterpillar moves based on how the segments are arranged.
The idea is that the Code-A-Pillar teaches early principles of coding through sequencing, problem solving and goal-oriented programming. The child can set a specific target for a location he or she wants the code-a-pillar to reach.
The toy is geared towards kids ages three to eight and will be available in the fall for $49.99.