Inspiration

The ‘Problem Child’ Is a Child, Not a Problem. One of the biggest challenges parents face is managing difficult or defiant behavior on the part of children. It is important and absolutely required for the parents to spend time with their kids and understand their needs. Today's kids are easily distracted by video games and unwanted content from internet which are very difficult to stop or control. There are not many games or internet content that provide fun as well as learning. It would be nice if we have a friend or companion that can talk, play as well as teach our kids. Early childhood education can be an invaluable opportunity for learning social and emotional skills. When I heard about Alexa couple of years back, I started watching closely and at sometime I thought this would be game changer, especially for kids, and here you go.... I was right!

Enabling... Old MacDonald's Farm skill....

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Old MacDonald's farm - Awesome fun experience with farm animals and learning for kids. The skill takes the kids through different farm animals from old macdonald's farm like cow, sheep, pig hen etc., It provide useful information and interesting facts about animals with amazing sound effects. Kids can also play different interesting games like pickaboo, counting game and letter game. The skill provides points in terms of rewards to kids to make it more interesting. The skill show various photos of animals on echo show device as well. What else your kids need then? Nothing, Just enable the skill!.

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Why this skill is special?

  • Takes close to real tour of farm and animals.
  • Awesome sound effects like wind, rain, tractor and animals etc.,.
  • Provides interesting and fun facts about animals, teaches baby animal name, spelling of the animal etc.,.
  • Interactive and fun games like Pickaboo, Counting and Letter games.
  • Rewards for kids - they have option to choose the reward item (chocolate, donut or cake) and keep collecting as they play.
  • Echo show enabled with great pictures.

How I developed?

The skill was developed using aws alexa skill sdk,S3 storage (for storing audio files) and dynamoDB.

Challenges I ran into

I have developed many alexa skills and published to alexa store. However, developing a skill targeting kids are definitely challenging. It requires lots of focus, analysis, content validation and sometime we need become kids ourselves to understand from their point of view. Lesser the age of kids, more challenging it is. Developing skill for kids below 5 years is difficult than more above 5 years kids. Many thanks to Amazon and Devpost for providing crash course and guidance for developing skill for kids. This made my life a lot easier. Also, when I started the skill and thought for persistence, I was worried, but alexa skill SDK and DynamoDB NoSQL made it extremely simple with just one line of code!. Amazing!

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

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Developing skills for kids are not easier and am definitely proud now and will be even prouder when the skill is used by kids around the world and benefited. Also, definitely, a proud dad as well!

What I learned

A lot!, learning never stops since I started on developing alexa skill. Following are key learnings.

  1. AWS and power of Lambda functions.
  2. Keep things simple.
  3. How to think from kids point of view.

What's next for Old MacDonald's Farm

Introduce more animals and more facts, add quiz and other interesting activies.

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