“Alexa, download this article to my brain.” Well, maybe Amazon’s handy little speaker can’t do that yet. But just wait. Amazon’s nifty wifi-enabled speaker can do a whole lot more than just play your favorite songs and make gross sounds. Read on to discover 15 things you probably never knew Alexa could do.

She's a Wine Connoisseur

We know: At the end of some days, it doesn't matter whether the wine is good or a Two-Buck variety. But on the days when you want to get fancy with your vino, Alexa can help. Go to the Alexa app and add the MySomm skill to her repertoire. Then, just ask Alexa for wine recommendations based on whatever you're eating. To activate, say "Alexa, ask Wine Gal to recommend a wine for _______."   

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She Can Soothe Your Baby to Sleep

If you've got the kind of kid who needs a little noise to successfully slip into slumber, Alexa's got tricks up her sleeve. Whether it's ocean waves or pittering rain, Alexa's Sleep and Relaxation Sounds skill will work wonders for your snoozer. Just say, "Alexa, Open Sleep Sounds" or, "Alexa, play ocean sounds."  

She Can Wake You (or Your Kids) Up with a Specific Song

If nudging and/or prodding won't wake up your stubborn sleepyheads, program an alarm to wake them up to their favorite song. Just say, "Alexa, wake me up to It's Raining Tacos (or whatever their favorite song is)." You can also use this feature to usher in a particular time of day: "Alexa set an alarm for the Clean-Up Song at 7 p.m. tomorrow." 

photo: Amazon

She Can Tell Your Kids a Personalized Bedtime Story

You've told enough bedtime stories, Mom and Dad! Time to let Alexa have a turn. What's super-cool about this skill is that Alexa can personalize the stories with your kids' names. Or, if you really want to really knock it out of the park, write your own stories for Alexa to read. In either case, you'll have to first register with bedtimeweb.com (this takes a few steps, but the instructions are easy to follow). Then, choose some stories for Alexa to read; and say, "Alexa, tell a Short Bedtime story to __________." Your kids will love hearing their names in the tales. 

She Can Get You In Shape

Got seven minutes? Ask Alexa to "Start the 7-Minute Workout" and let her guide you through a series of intense cardio and strength-training exercises designed to whip your body into shape in just a few minutes a day.  

She Can Be Your Board Game Manual

Can't remember how much money you're supposed to start with when you play Monopoly? Don't know who goes first in Scrabble?  Ask Alexa! Enable the Board Game Answers skill and let Alexa remind you how to play some of your favorite games.

She Can Order You a Pizza

Hungry? Never again go online or use a phone (retro!) to order food delivery. Just say, "Alexa, order a pizza," and your grub will be at your door in no time. Read more on Amazon to find out more about how to use this feature. 

She Can Work As a Baby Monitor

If you've got an Echo in your room and another Echo device (like an Echo Dot) in your baby's room, all you have to do to listen to your baby's every grunt and snore is "Enable Drop In on my Echo Dot." This will open a connection so you can hear what's going on in the other room. Just make sure to turn the volume all the way down in your baby's device so she can't hear you on the other end. Check out this article to find out more about how to use this feature. 

photo: Amazon

She Can Make Calls

Want to make a quick call? You can use Alexa to call anyone else who has an Echo device. Think of it as a high-tech walkie-talkie. Just go to the Alexa app and enable the "Drop In" feature (make sure the person you want to call has this feature enabled, too). Then, when you want to make the call, just say, "Alexa, drop in on ______" or "Alexa, call ______."  This feature is even cooler if you and the person on the other end of the line both have Alexa Show, which lets you also see the person on the other end of your drop-in. Check out this article for more details on how to use this feature. 

She Can Remember Things for You

If you're as exhausted as we are, you probably find it hard to remember all the stuff you're supposed to remember every day. Like, where are my keys? Let Alexa do the remembering for you! Just say: "Alexa, remember that I put my keys in the kitchen drawer." Or, "Remember I hid the kids iPads on the top shelf of the cabinet." Or, "Alexa, remember that there's a PTA meeting on June 1." When you need to remember, just ask: "Alexa, where are my keys?" Or, "Where did I hide the kids' iPads?" Or, "Alexa, when is the PTA meeting?" Nobody will call you scatterbrained again! 

photo: Amazon

You Can Use Her As An Intercom

Want to get your kids off the TV and downstairs for dinner? You can use Alexa as an intercom to communicate with other Echo devices throughout your home. Just go to the Alexa app on your phone to rename each of your Echo devices, and enable the "Drop In" feature. Tell Alexa to drop in on your other devices, i.e. "Drop in on the Upstairs Echo." And talk away. Your kids will feel like you're right there with them. Check out this article for detailed instructions on how to use Alexa's Drop In. 

Hint: Since the Alexa app works anywhere, you can "drop in" on your home devices even when you're away. So next time you're out, and your kids are home, try popping in to say hi. They'll love hearing your voice in the room.

She Just Changed the Way Your Kids Play with LEGO

If you've got a little LEGO fanatic, Alexa just made playing with DUPLO blocks even more engaging. Just go to the Alexa app and enable Lego Duplo Stories. Then say, "Alexa, open LEGO DUPLO stories" and Alexa will launch a story game designed for kids ages 2-5. The game invites kids to use their DUPLO blocks to help tell an interactive story where they choose all the pieces (literally). Toddlers can choose between five vehicle or five animal stories, and define the route of the story, while guided by Alexa.  

photo: Blueprints.amazon screenshot

She Can Say Whatever You Want Her to Say

You can now customize Alexa's responses to your specific questions by writing set Q&As. This Alexa skill is really just a fun way to wow (and entertain) your friends and family. So next time your kids are being testy, go for it. Say, "Alexa, what's wrong with my kids today?" and try to hold your smile in when Alexa says, "They had way too much candy at Grayson's birthday party today" (or whatever the case may be). Your kids will be too amazed to deny it. Go to Amazon Blueprints to try it for yourself.  

photo: Amazon

She Loves to Play Games

Looking for something for the kids to do while you're getting dinner ready? Let them play a game with Alexa (which, in our experience, is way more appealing for kids than playing a game with each other). Alexa can play all sorts of games, but we think these are the best ones for kiddos:

* Bingo - You'll need to go online to print out free BINGO cards, but then all you'll need is a pen to mark off your BINGO cards when Alexa calls out each square, one by one. 

* Simon - You'll need the external Alexa Buttons gadget to play this, but once it's all set up, kids (and grown-ups) will love playing the classic color-changing memory game in a new, high-tech way. 

* Rock, Paper Scissors - It may not keep your youngsters entertained for long, but if you need a 10-minute time-sucker, this works. 

Deal or No Deal - Test your luck opening imaginary cases of cash to try and win the big money. 

* Spelling Bee - Let your little spellers test their know-how in this classic spelling game. The game is designed for older elementary school kids (grades 4 - 5) so make sure your bees are prepared for the challenge. 

* Guess The Number - A simple number-guessing game, where you have to guess a number between 1-100 and Alexa gives you clues (higher/lower) to help you get to the winning digit. 

* 20 Questions - You'll be surprised how often Alexa gets this one right. 

Would You Rather - Kids will love this (clean) version of the classic game of silly choices (i.e. "Which would you rather? Have no hair or hair made of yarn?").

Pssst: To get Alexa to launch any of these games, just say, "Alexa, play ______" or "Alexa, launch ______." 

She'll Solve All Your Kids' Arguments

If it’s not even lunchtime yet and you’ve already had to mediate more injustices than Ruth Bader Ginsberg, then the Amazon Alexa Kids Court skill is for you.

"Judge Lexy" is the honorable digital judge presiding over all unfair kid matters. Simply ask Alexa to open Kids Court, and you’ll hear the sound of a blaring bugle and a gavel rapping bringing the court to order. Judge Lexy then asks for statements from both parties, calls any witnesses and asks for any evidence to be presented. Finally, a verdict is issued, and you can get back to life as normal … until the next battle emerges. Find out more by clicking here.

—Melissa Heckscher

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