At this point, you hardly need us to remind you that it’s not easy being a parent or caregiver. Trying to keep even one kid occupied during our stay-at-home curfew can be a daunting task, never mind two or more. What you do need is some constructive help in that department. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most entertaining and educational Alexa skills we could find.
From Animal Workout to Jeopardy!, these skills won’t replace your kids’ regular daily routines, but they just might give you a small window of opportunity to do, well, whatever it is that you would do if you didn’t need to be keeping your kids busy.
Alexa skills for young children
Say, “Alexa, open Animal Workout”
One of the biggest challenges when house-bound is how to channel all of that incredible kid energy. Why not let Alexa lead them in a voice-based workout routine that also engages their imagination while sharpening their play-pretend skills? Animal Workout prompts kids to imagine themselves as different animals, with a quick fact-based intro to each new animal and a short, music-accompanied activity, like wiggling like a ladybug or sticking your tongue out like a giraffe.
Unlike some Alexa skills that rely on Alexa’s own voice, the professionally recorded host’s voice for Animal Workout is enthusiastic and encouraging.
Say, “Alexa, open Freeze Dancers”
Here’s another one to help kids get moving. Freeze Dancers is an Alexa take on the old “freeze” game. The skill starts some music and everyone dances. When the music suddenly stops, everyone has to freeze. Each time, a voice asks “who didn’t freeze?” You can say any name you like and the voice will offer some words of encouragement for the next round, or you can say “nobody” or “no one,” and your group will be rewarded with a cheer.
Another option within Freeze Dancers is to dance like an animal or object. Easy ones like “dance like a penguin” make for some funny moments, while “dance like a raindrop” requires a bit more in the way of imagination.
Say, “Alexa, open Sesame Street”
The creative geniuses at the Children’s Television Workshop have brought the Sesame Street magic to Alexa devices with this fun skill. Elmo is the star of the show; he engages kids with the Letter of the Day and can organize a game of hide-and-seek using sound-effects clues for his location. For Elmo fans both young and old, it’s a fun-filled few minutes that can be repeated every day.
Hand Washing Time with Fun and Music
Say, “Alexa, open Hand Washing Time”
Given our new normal due to concerns around staying healthy, this is a good skill to add. As the name promises, starting this skill begins a hand-washing routine which, if followed, will ensure you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds — the minimum time recommended by the World Health Organization. It uses a few different silly songs, like “Wash Your Dang Hands,” that will make this tedious but vital activity a little more amusing for everyone.
Say, “Alexa, open Animal ID”
Like a game of I-spy but with animals instead of visual objects, kids are encouraged to guess which animal Alexa is thinking of. You play by asking questions like, “Where does it live?” or “What does it eat?” There’s no limit to the number of questions you can ask, but if you’re stumped you can always ask for a hint.
Alexa skills for early grade schoolers
Say, “Alexa, open NASA Mars”
For budding astronauts and astrophysicists alike, this Alexa skill is a voice-driven Martian encyclopedia that lets you ask any question you want about the red planet. In fact, asking “Why is Mars red?” produces a detailed answer involving soil composition and the planet’s atmosphere.
Though some answers suffer a little from Alexa’s A.I.-driven voice readouts, it’s nonetheless a fun way for younger kids to satisfy their curiosity about Mars without having to do a Google search.
Say, “Alexa, open Amazon Storytime”
Nothing beats a good story, and this Alexa skill has a wide collection of them, pulled from the Amazon Rapids short story library, and organized by topic and time of day. Kids can choose from categories like “animals” or “sports,” or you can tell Alexa to tell you a bedtime story.
The stories are professionally recorded by voice actors and are accompanied by sound effects for an experience that challenges kids to use their imaginations, yet doesn’t rely entirely on the words alone to do so.
Listening Comprehension Practice
Say, “Alexa, ask Hutch to tell me a story”
While this is not as entertaining as some other skills, kids can challenge themselves to remember key facts from short stories that Alexa reads aloud. After the story, Alexa will ask yes/no questions to test how well you followed along.
Some of the questions, especially at first, are straightforward. However, if you get enough of them right, Alexa will start to introduce small nuances that can throw off all but the most attentive listeners.
The questions stop when you get one wrong, so parents and siblings can challenge each other to answer the most questions.
Say, “Alexa, open Smart Math”
Perfect for kids who are learning the four basic arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, Alexa can quiz you on your skills by asking for the answers to random equations.
Alexa keeps track of your score and as you progress through each round of questions, you can level up to harder challenges. You can decide which of the operations you want to focus on, making it ideal for a variety of age groups.
No Way That’s True
Say, “Alexa, open No Way That’s True”
A slick and interactive skill from Nickelodeon, No Way That’s True is a trivia game in the form of true or false questions. The host has a fun and quirky delivery that will remind you of You Don’t Know Jack (if you ever played the game).
Three rounds of three questions each will test your knowledge of a wide range of topics, from the scientific names of vegetables to the reproduction habits of plankton and everything in between. One to four players can play, and scores are tracked throughout the game.
Alexa skills for tweens and teens
Say, “Alexa, open Song Quiz”
This skill is one for the whole family. Alexa will play you a five-second song clip based on your choice of a decade, genre, or a mix of today’s most popular music. Your job is to tell her the song title and artist name. Get both of them right and you’ll get the maximum number of points.
Up to four players from the same household can play, but don’t worry: If you’re alone, Alexa will find you an opponent from somewhere else in the world.
Sometimes the clips are taken from the chorus, making song identification a snap, but at other times the clips are based on bridges or harder-to-recognize stanzas, so that only true musicologists can end up on top at the end of each round.
While it’s free to play, you can purchase in-skill upgrades for more genre-specific challenges.
Escape the Room
Say, “Alexa, open Escape the Room”
Alexa becomes your own personal dungeon master as you find yourself in a series of escape rooms. Using a limited set of commands like “look left/right/down/up/forward” and “examine [object name],” you must take stock of where you are and what options are available to you in order to get out.
These puzzles are not quickly solved, making them perfect for those in need of an extended brain-teaser. And with only one free hint per room, you might want to play with family members or call up a friend to help you out — more heads will definitely be better than one.
Say, “Alexa, open Either Or”
Alexa presents with two choices and you have to pick one. It’s a silly game where you get to learn if your preferences run with the majority of players or if you’re a maverick who goes their own way.
Though the choices are often banal—”Which would you prefer: Be constantly sweating or to cry every day?”—it’s always intriguing to discover which way the crowd has voted. For the record, a strong majority would prefer to be famous for their looks than for their brains.
Either Or is free to play in three different categories, including “magic” and “Harry Potter,” but you can buy expansion packs to increase your options.
Say, “Alexa, open Jeopardy!”
The world’s most famous trivia TV show is now a very popular Alex skill. Alexa takes you through a round of six questions from various categories each day. It’s always a different mix, which keeps you on your toes. As on the show, clues are given and you have to provide your answer in the form of a question.
It’s a lot of fun, which makes it a bit surprising that there’s no way to pay for additional rounds.
Say, “Alexa, open Muse Meditation”
Teens are more likely to experience stress than younger children. This skill uses the proven benefits of guided meditation to help you de-stress, relax, or focus on increased feelings of happiness. A calm and soothing voice takes you through various mental exercises, all of which involve an increased awareness of your body — especially your breathing — and of your mental state.
Not all Alexa skills are a good replacement for other options like apps or websites, but smart speakers are an ideal way to add guided meditation to your daily routine.
Build your own skills
Finally, if your kid is the kind who would prefer to invent their own technology instead of using someone else’s, check out our handy guide to building your own Alexa skill. It’s easier than you think, and no coding required.