It’s becoming more important to teach your kids basic programming skills from an early age. With technology taking over our lives there’s already a shortage of coders and people in STEM fields, let alone when the current generation grows up.
Schools are slowly adapting to this trend by introducing programming classes. But as a parent it’s good to know there’s an increasing amount of new toys that allow your kid to get familiar with coding concepts from an early age.
It’s easy to get lost among all the coding toys, that’s why we’ve selected the best STEM toys that teach kids basic programming skills.
Cozmo Robot by Anki
Anki, makers of the autonomous Vector robot that we featured earlier, also have a similar looking robot available for teaching kids A.I. and coding. The cute Cozmo robot is already quite capable out of the box. He will recognize your face, say fun stuff and play different games with you. The actual coding part is powered by Anki’s Code Lab. With this software, that runs on your tablet you can program the robot to do whatever you like.
There are three levels in Code Lab; a beginner sandbox, an intermediate constructor level and a full Python SDK if you already are familiar with the Python programming language.
- Box includes Cozmo robot, three cubes and a charger
- 30fps VGA camera with facial recognition
- Play games and guide Cozmo in Explorer mode
- Program Cozmo in Code Lab (suitable for beginners)
- Controlled by free Cozmo app, available on iOS and Android devices
- Recommended for age 8 and up
Little Sophia – a Robot That Teaches Girls How to Code
Following the initiatives to have more women working in tech it’s good to see there are also toys to persuade girls to start coding. Little Sophia is one such example. Little Sophia is modelled after its bigger sister Sophia the robot, the most advanced humanoid on the world, which is also created by Hanson Robotics.
Little Sophia walks, talks and has a wide range of facial expressions. The robot measures 14 inch tall and teaches your kids different STEM subjects and coding in a fun and interactive way.
The coding part of Little Sophia is powered by Blockly which means kids will have a visual way of programming their little robot friend.
- 14-inch tall
- Requires Sophiabot app for iOS and Android
- Litium Ion battery
- Recommended for girls, ages 8 and up
Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit
If your kids are into Harry Potter there’s not much needed to get them into coding. Winning a toy of the year award in 2019, the Kano Harry Potter coding kit allows kids to build their own Bluetooth magic wand. Once the wand is put together, you can use it together with the app that has more than 70 Harry Potter themed coding challenges.
- Comes with wand parts, PCB with Codeable LED, button, batteries, step-by-step book, stickers, poster, and free Kano app
- 70+ challenges in the app
- Recommended for ages 6 and up
Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar by Fisher-Price
The Code-a-Pillar is a coding toy that’s suitable for the smallest children. Each of the nine, individual segments of the Code-a-Pillar tells the toy how to move; forward, left or right. The parts will run one after another, lighting up when they’re activated. Depending on the order you connect the segments in, the caterpillar will move differently each time.
Put a target somewhere in the room and your kid will think of how to arrange the pieces to move the caterpillar to its goal. This is early-age problem solving at its finest!
Recommended for ages 3 to 6.
The Sphero SPRK+ (short for School Parents Robot Kids) is an advanced robot in a waterproof, scratch-resistant ball. You’ll use the Sphero Edu app and the programmatic building blocks on iOS or Android to code a path for the SPRK. You can really finetune the way the ball rolls , slows down and turns. Use the supplied maze tape to navigate the SPRK+ around a maze. Or dip the ball in paint to program yourself a painting.
- 4.5 MPH top speed
- 1 hr playtime
- 30m Bluetooth range
- Inductive charging
- LED lights
littleBits Code Kit
The littleBits kits are tons of fun for kids and kidults. You’re snapping together electronic building blocks into fun programmable devices. The coding is done with visual, drag and drop blocks called codebits.
The Code Kit contains four games you can build. Each projects learns you a part of the fundamentals of computer programming, all being very immediate and hands-on for kids. This kit is perfect to teach students programming in the classroom.
Recommended for ages 8 and up
In an overview about the best coding toys we should definitely not forget LEGO. Starting with LEGO Technic, the Danish toy block manufacturer already produced challenging, technical projects for kids years ago.
With the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox you can build five different projects that combine building, coding and playing. Special LEGO parts can be controlled over a Bluetooth connection by the LEGO Boost app on your tablet.
In the LEGO Boost app you can easily code a sequence of actions using a clear drag and drop interface.
Recommended for ages 7 to 12