Ever since I got an iPad for Christmas, job one has been figuring out how to keep it out of my daughters’ clawing, desperate hands. (There should be an app for that.) But no sooner had I read The New York Times’ top travel apps for kids than I began to cave, downloading “learning” apps like Memory Train and Interactive Alphabet so my three-year-old can practice her letters while I catch up on a little p & q. Whoops. Now we’re in the midst of a full-blown Armageddon at our house; you’d think my iPad contains nuclear secrets or the cure for cancer for how much we fight over it.
Of course, ahem, as the parent, I’m in charge. I can set limits! No more than 10 minutes of screen time a day, and only when we travel or as a reward for when she takes a really, really long nap. Or I can buy her one of her own. A decoy, of course.
So I was psyched to stumble across the I-Wood, a kids’ travel art case designed to look like a laptop from clever German design co. Donkey Products. Genius! Where the screen and keyboard should be, there’s a black chalkboard. Instead of a track pad there’s a handy rectangular slot for chalk. The wood case is sturdy enough to be propped up on laps for on-the-go artistry. It’s retro and mod at the same time: a 21st century Etch a Sketch. There’s no on-off switch, no batteries to drain, no half-started novel manuscript to be irretrievably lost should the “laptop” get dropped. If it breaks, it only costs 40 euros to replace.
But let’s be real. It doesn’t blink and flash. It won’t read Peter Rabbit aloud to her like her interactive e-book will. You can’t watch kids from New York's PS 22 chorus belt out Katy Perry’s “Firework” on it. How can it possibly compete? Guess she can always use the I-wood to draw her own apps.