Bear and BoyWhat if you go shopping for a toy, but end up bringing home your child’s new best friend? What if this toy can tell kids stories at bedtime, play games with them when they want to hang out, encourage them to solve math problems, teach them how to read, and sing their favorite nursery rhymes? Luv ’n Learn Friends, from Future of Play, can do all of this—and more.

On the surface, Luv ’n Learn Friends are a collection of 13.5-inch electronic plush bears that kids ages 3 and up can snuggle with. But these bears are more than just soft and cuddly, they are interactive tools that offer kids a fun, educational experience full of warmth through personal messages triggered by touch.

Luv ’n Learn Friends are available in two colors, a brown bear with bushy eyebrows, and a white bear without. Parents can insert three AA batteries (sold separately) into the bear and download the free Luv ‘n Learn app on any iOS or Android device to bring kids’ new BFF to life.

Each bear features two modes of play. The first is stand-alone mode, which is activated by sliding the power switch to the SD card mode, a touching the bear’s paws together until you hear a chime sound. The Luv ‘n Learn Friends feature multiple touch points that will greet kids with a different interaction. Kids can hear the bear narrate stories when they press his right foot, or they can press the left foot to hear a nursery rhyme when they press the left foot, a personal phrase like “Peekaboo it’s great to see you” when they press his right hand, and an enthusiastic introduction when they press his left hand. Every time the bear speaks, it will sway its head in a rhythmic manner, as if it were really talking to you. Kids can navigate through five pre-installed stories, five pre-installed songs, 50 math games, and 50 puzzles directly through the bear itself.

Kids can activate the second mode of play, app mode, by sliding the power switch to the Bluetooth mode and pairing your smartphone or tablet with the bear to initiate two-way communication. The app mode allows kids to navigate through the Luv ’n Learn app using the bear’s hands. Kids can press the right paw to toggle up or right, press the left paw to toggle down or left, and press the paws together to make their selection.

The Luv ’n Learn Friends app allows varying levels of difficulties when it comes to math problems that kids have to solve. The bear’s voice patiently encourages them and applauds them every time they get an answer right. Pictures and animation entertain kids in storybook fashion as they listen to the stories. Words appear on-screen alongside the songs and nursery rhymes, allowing kids to develop reading skills. They can also choose to read the story with the bear if they so wish.

Another cool feature of Luv ’n Learn Friends is that the app allows you to record your own stories. Kids can get creative and narrate their own tales and parents (especially while away from home) can record their personal messages and stories to ease the stress of separation.

At the end of the day, Luv ‘n Learn Friends are great for sparking kids’  emotional intelligence, teaching them how to learn concepts that may appear difficult through interactive play and team work.

About the author

Varuni Sinha

Varuni Sinha

Varuni Sinha is an assistant editor at the Adventure Publishing Group. With an avid interest in visual arts, she enjoys writing and editing for The Licensing Book and The Toy Book, leading trade magazines about toys–the first art forms we encounter as children. With expertise in literature, Varuni launched into writing through her thesis on Indian comic superheroes. Fairytales are another major attraction for her roving mind. Recently at Spoleto USA, Varuni mapped the history of all the variations of the Sleeping Beauty tale ever narrated through time. When she is not writing, Varuni loves to paint with her finger and nails. She has held solo and group exhibitions of her work in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Auroville in India. She has also illustrated a children’s book of Japanese Folktales. Follow her on twitter @varunisinha to keep up with her new adventures as she explores the magical world of toys.