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Do you have an Alexa? Also known as the Amazon Echo. My husband splurged and bought one last spring, and it certainly has changed the dynamic around here. As a music, podcast, and public-radio listening junkie, I loved this smart speaker right away. The Amazon Echo allowed me to listen to all of my “news shows” at my convenience.
The other night, my family was at a friend’s house, eating pizza, when I got asked: ” So what does an Amazon Echo do?” And I just started rattling off ways my family – kids and us enjoy and benefit from having ” Alexa” around. I started thinking that I needed to get this down in writing because there are definitely ways that the Amazon Echo has helped us function as a family.
What is an Amazon Echo? It is a smart speaker. A little computer you can talk to and ask for things to listen to and also information.
12 Parenting Hacks using the Amazon Echo or the Echo Dot
1. “Alexa, set a timer for five minutes!” You can ask your Amazon Echo to set timers for anything you like. These timers have solved a lot of little problems regarding our kids. When my two older boys are fighting over the same toy, they know to ask Alexa to set a timer. One gets the toy for five minutes, then the next person gets a turn. When my older son asks to watch TV, I set a timer for 30 minutes, so we all remember to turn off the TV after one show. The timer skill can be used for me too. When the kids want me to read to them- but I am busy, Alexa helps me follow through with ” I’ll read to you in ten minutes.” We also use these timers for time-outs, but I don’t need to get into that.
2. ” Alexa, set an alarm for 8:10 AM every Monday Morning.” In addition to setting timers on your Amazon Echo, you can also set ongoing alarms. I love this feature. I have two kids who attend school, and I pick them up at different times. So, I am driving back and forth to their school three times a day. Things can get pretty crazy around here, I have set timers to give me a five-minute warning for when I have to leave to go get someone. The kids have picked up on it too. They know, that when the alarm goes off- it is time to stop playing and time to put on their shoes. It has helped us be more efficient.
3. ” Alexa, can you tell me how long a blue whale is?” Gosh, my kids love to ask questions about such a large variety of random topics! When I was a kid, there was this book set called an encyclopedia where I had to look at, if I wanted an answer to a question. Now, many parents ” google” things. Well, You can simply ask Alexa when you have a question too! My five-year-old loves asking Alexa questions. ” What do bears eat?” “Who is Spiderman?” ” What is ten-thousand times three-hundred-million?.” It is amazing how many answers she has for our kids.
4. ” Alexa, tell the bedtime story to Jack” Now, my husband and I love reading to our kids. We’re not going to have a smart speaker take over that job. But you can enable the ” Bedtime Story Skill”- where your Amazon Echo will tell your kids a personalized bedtime story. It is fun. My kids get a kick out of it every time.
5. “Alexa, ask KIDS MD.” This is such a neat app- thankfully I have only used it one time. Kids MD is an Alexa app that the Boston Children’s Hospital created. If you have questions about medicine dosage, at what temperature you need to take your kids to the doctor, or symptoms of a cold. You can simply ask. I love this so much more than searching the internet and getting 10 different answers. This just covers just basic symptoms of fevers, colds and doesn’t really go into anything more complicated. Don’t ever use this in place of a doctors visit.
6. “Alexa, play songs by Cookie Monster.” Yes, you read that right. I think most people use their Amazon Echo for streaming music. You can literally ask Alexa to play any type of song or playlist at any time. Our family loves soothing music at dinnertime, and kids music in the afternoon! I find that having music as entertainment really cuts down on screen time in our house. Right now, my boy’s favorite show is the Lion Guard- but they are happy listening to the Lion Guard music, while they play pretend. Some of their favorite playlists to listen to include- Thomas the Train, Moana, Lion Guard and Peter Pan Live. They also love lining up their cars to parade music.
7. ” Alexa, play nature sounds” This is a skill I am so happy we have found! I have a three-month-old baby! He is the third child, so he needs to sleep and his parents to need to sleep too! We have our Amazon Echo play nature sounds for him- all night. Not only does it get him to sleep, but we have become a little addicted to the soothing sounds as well. (You can also ask Alexa to ” Start Sheep Count, but that app isn’t necessarily for kids.
8. ” Alexa, let’s make dinner with Campbell’s kitchen” Your Amazon Echo will give you free dinner ideas using the ingredients you already have. If you have leftover turkey, Alexa will e-mail you recipes using leftover Turkey! I love it!
9.) “Alexa, lets play Simon Says.” I love playing games with my kids using the Amazon Echo. We have such a fun time with it! You can enable different skills that will play games with you. A few of our favorites are Simon Says, The Animal Game, and Twenty Questions. The Amazon Echo will also play the Hokey Pokey and other songs to get your kids up and moving on a rainy day.
10.) ” Alexa, what time is Will’s doctor’s appointment today?” After years of searching, my husband and I finally have an electronic calendar system that works well for us. And we especially need it these days, we are so busy running places with the kids, that sometimes we only have a few minutes to talk about future appointments. When a family event or appointment is made, I simply ask Alexa to put it on our google calendar, and both of us get e-mail reminders about it. It is wonderful.
11.) ” Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke.” My kids love jokes. They have multiple joke books and they love finding new jokes to tell to their grandparents and friends. As it turns out, the Amazon Echo can be very funny, and is full of jokes. She has told some really funny ones to the kids.
12.) “ Alexa, remind me to drop off registration off at Sarah’s House.” Alexa will add that task onto my “to do list”. Yes I am big on lists- it is the only way I remember to get things done. Usually I have an old mail envelope with a bunch of things scribbled down ( because I get great satisfaction from crossing things off). But, it is also nice to ask Alexa to remind me to do things too- keeps me more accountable.
I love my Amazon Echo! No, nobody asked me to write this post. I just really love ours that much! It so wonderful feeling organized and on top of things. This smart speaker really helps me with that!
Learn more about the Amazon Echo!