(Yoto $99 for player; cards are $8.99 and up)
If you’re looking for a 21st century music and story player, you need to see the Yoto Player, an audio device that offers content for preschoolers and early school age listeners. Kids can use this independently since the audio cards fit in a slot that’s easier to load than your old cassette player. A well curated library of music, active games, and stories give you many choices, although the price tag for adding these can add up. We especially like the make-your- own-story-cards, blanks for recording stories or music to share—a nice touch for parents who travel and want to leave their telling, reading, or singing of favorites. Also nice for long distance grand-parenting that can travel to kids in the mail. Shop with care. Most Yoto combo packs are quite age specific. In fact, we think the music cards are better for the preschool crowd while the story collections being offered are a better bet for school age listeners. For example, the collection of Roald Dahl stories is fine for older listeners, but way over-their-head wordy for preschoolers. Similarly, the five story My First Classic Stories Collection is excellent for 8s and up, not your 3-year-old. There are typical Disney choices, but also classics like BBC versions of Winnie the Pooh, Paddington and others. Yoto also has audio cards for active games with visuals that light up on the small pixel display that will be fun for older preschoolers, though some game cards do use those cutsie-kiddie voices, so be forewarned. Yoto is truly a listening device, something children in our multi-screen age could benefit from using. Simple enough for the young listener without looking babyish to older kids. It has a built-in digital clock display as well as a night light, a podcast and radio. Start out with a few packs of cards and keep their interest alive in by adding new cards from time to time. Cards range in price. From $8.99 for singles to $34.99 for collections, so choose with care and be sure to buy some blanks to record your own.
Ages: Older Preschoolers, Early School
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2022