The Best Robot Toys That Teach Kids Coding and STEM Skills
Kids are fickle and thus, it’s easy for parents to throw down a ton of money on seemingly great toys that quickly end up in the trash. Instead, look at the ever-evolving robot toys that you can get for your aspiring inventor. The best robots for kids introduce them to STEM concepts, activate their inner “maker”, and even teach them some coding. Plus these toy robots can help kids learn cognitive skills like critical thinking and problem solving, while having fun playing with them. Which is pretty much the point.
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When choosing coding robots, parents should make sure they’re age-appropriate, first and foremost, because if you get your offspring something that looks really good but is far too advanced, they’ll only get discouraged. Some coding toys require apps and screens, while others do not, so choose whatever option works best for you and your parenting style. You’ll find that some of our robot toys are modular, meaning they pair well with existing toys like Legos, so their shelf life by definition will be longer.
The Best Robot Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Kids enter different codes to control the robot's movements, teaching kids about early math concepts, colors, shapes, and letters. Plus, kids program the robot to move in different ways. There are three ways to play: free coding, by following learning challenges, and by using secret codes.
Not only does this set provide your kids with interactive pets. But when they're in cording mode, kids follow storybook coding challenges to play hide and seek with the critters, have Ranger fetch a ball from the tennis ball launcher, or ride up and down the slide.
Kids 3 and up build simple yet fully functional toy robots that fly or zoom around, which have moving parts, wheels, and gears, as they follow along with a funny little story about adventurous kids. It's a solid screen-free way for preschoolers to learn about how machines work.
Another stellar screen-free coding set, this one features a peanut butter and jelly sandwich named Sammy. Kids 4 and up lay down physical coding cards to get Sammy to move around, light up, play sounds, and do his thing. And they learn the basics of coding.
A wonderful screen-free coding toy, which has kids using hands-on blocks to write their first programs and help a very cute robot find his way home. Instead of an app, preschoolers control the robot through a series of maps and stories.
No screens required: Preschoolers twist each dial on the caterpillar's tail and it goes straight ahead, turns left, turns right, plays music, and makes goofy sounds.
Kids build robots by joining cubes together, and control the creations via the app. Each cubelet has software inside with a specific function, so they change behavior depending on how kids assemble them.
A great screen-free robot for little kids, Botley is guided by a remote programmer that sends commands and gets him rolling along. He can sidestep objects in his way, has detachable robot arms, 40 coding cards, 6 double-sided tiles, and comes with his very own obstacle course. The brand is introducing Botley 2.0 this May, and the new robot can move in 6 directions, play music, and put on a light show.
The Best Robots for Kids
For kids who love Legos, here's a coding kit with 23 robotic parts that are fully compatible with traditional Lego bricks. Lego builders ready to up their game can combine the blocks with the interconnecting rods and parts, and build ever more functional and complex robots.
Kids 6 and up use an iPad combined with handheld pieces to learn to match on-screen shapes, solve creative puzzles, practice math in an open-ended way, and hone their language skills. They can play solo, or in groups. The coolest aspect of this coding set is the ability to arrange wooden puzzle pieces to build intricate shapes.
This is the perfect gift for fans of the NBA or the WNBA. The ChampBot coding kit lets kids program the robot to score points and shoot baskets. It has three servo motors, two DC motors and an IR sensor, and is meant for kids eight and up. A compatible iOS or Android device is needed to work this robot.
It's a gorgeous classic toy train, but with smart features for savvy kids. Younger children play screen-free, just like with a regular toy train, and learn to control the smart train’s navigation and speed by using colored plastic tiles that snap on and off the tracks. If you do opt for screens, download the app and they can really go wild with the train by creating custom commands.
Kids built the robot of their dreams with these cubelets. They are little blocks of software inside little blocks of hardware and because block has a special function, how kids assemble their robot changes its behavior. Every single time. It's great for kids four and older.
This great set teaches electrical circuits with conductive and insulating dough, letting kids squish, mold, and sculpt the dough while learning about engineering and tech. This is better for older kids, because you need to be somewhat careful when using it.
Suitable for kids eight and older, the Bolt is the size of a baseball. It has an LED light matrix that lets kids program the robot to show characters, vector graphics, sensor data, or play games on the matrix itself. Coolest of all is BOLT’s built-in compass that allows kids to drive the robot, and program it to follow real-world directions on a map.
Kids eight and up can construct the construction truck of their dreams, and then code it to do whatever they want. They can create buildable, codable robots like Dozerbot and Dirtbot or design their own. They then download the app and get step by step instructions on how to build the thing and make it work. They use the Blockly coding platform, which lets kids build and code these robots to perform programs and tricks.
The best robot toys level up with your kids, so they don't get bored. And that's the Miko, the blinking, talking robot that is programmed to converse with your kid about the presidential election, share dumb jokes, and help kids with homework. The Miko both understand and react to human moods. It has a camera and speaker that lets parents talk to their kids via en encrypted connection.
The Best Lego Robotics Kits
Currently the most dope LEGO robotics kit you can buy, this one lets kids build walking, talking, and fully-functional robots that completes missions via the corresponding app. With five building options, this set is the opposite of boring.
Instead of a one-and-done (mostly) Lego set, kids stay continuously engaged with this set. They build three app-controlled Star Wars droids: R2-D2, a Gonk droid and a Mouse droid, each with their own personalities and skills. Then, they use the app to program the droids to go on increasingly difficult missions. This is suitable for kids eight and up.
Kids can build and rebuild this toy robot into five cool multifunctional models of this robot, and then use a tablet to bring it to life. Like so much with the Lego brand, the premise is deviously simple. Kids build and code this robot toy, and then download the app to make it move and do tons of other stuff. They can even turn the robot into a guitar with pitch bend and sound effects.
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