Children are naturally attuned to learning through play. That is why robot toys for kids are one of the best means to teach children the basics of STEAM, coding, and to make sure they have fun while learning. Here is our take on some of the best robot toys and tools for kids that you can equip them with, rated by age groups.
Teaching children to code is an educational priority for many forward-thinking schooling institutions and parents. Not only is coding a monumental asset on the job market, and will only increase in value as our society becomes continuously more digital and reliant on smart electronic solutions, but it also supports the development of many key soft skills and useful ways of thinking in kids. We’ve written about the benefits of coding for kids before, which you can check out in our previous blog posts here and here. In short, coding nurtures creativity, logical thinking, computational thinking, persistence, math skills, problem-solving, and empowers kids to interact with technology in a more confident manner. Confident tech experts are just what the world needs and will need – so let’s get started on that journey!
Many parents and educators struggle to find the perfect method to teach coding to their kids and pupils – there are so many, and they work in such different ways! How can one decide on the best one? Our suggestion is to consider robot toys. They’re fun, playful, there’s an incredible amount of detail and nuance to their teaching methods, and they successfully occupy children for hours on end. What else is there to want?
So how does one choose a good robot toy for kids? There are a few key features to look at. First of all, age appropriateness. Don’t get a child a toy that is too advanced or, alternatively, too simple. It might either discourage them or bore them quickly. Secondly, take a look at how well you can build on the toy’s features. Is it a modular toy that you can build and put together in multitudes of ways, which means it’ll last you much longer, or a toy you cannot take apart and tinker with? This point also relates to the age group – younger children are well-off with a simple toy, but an adaptable toy is a better investment for you. Thirdly, consider the presence of a screen. Do you want a toy that requires an app or one that relies purely on Montessori methods and is only physical? While you don’t have to be scared of productive screen time, this is also the point considering the age-appropriateness of different apps.
But without any further ado, here are our recommendations for the different age groups and their requirements!
Best robot toys for toddlers and pre-schoolers
1. Learning Resources Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot
A robot meant for kids from 5-years-old and is screen-free and is controlled by a simple remote. The robot moves, makes sounds and plays music, and flashes lights, and can also be transformed into different characters, such as a police car or a ghost. The robot can be bought in different sets but the simplest one costs $64.99.
The caterpillar-shaped toy offers plenty of ways to assemble it out of the building blocks that it is made of. Controlled by the buttons on its segments, the caterpillar moves in different directions, makes noises and sounds as well as light effects. The recommended age is 3-6 years, while the toy is especially good for collaborative play. The price is also especially affordable – $34.99.
The Montessori-inspired toy is perfect for young kids and the development of their fine motor skills. Starting from age 3 (and up to 9), the toy can be used both at home and in the classroom. Cubetto teaches the basics of programming and the logic behind it via simple color-coded blocks made out of grippy wood. The sets start at $225.00.
Best robot toys for elementary school kids
Our very own modular robotics kit is a staple in homes and classrooms worldwide. The color-coded modular building blocks are easy to assemble and use to construct robots and objects of any kind, while our intuitive apps (Robo Live, Robo Code, Robo Blockly) offer a healthy challenge for different age groups (from 5 to 14 years-old). Children can build their own robots and gadgets, and the best part is: they can even customize them with LEGO® and LEGO Technic® pieces! Our kits come together with motors, lights, sensors, and various add-ons: children’s creations can be very simple, but they can also get very advanced with the help of functional building blocks.
The 80+ hours of curriculum developed by and for educators is what has made Robo Wunderkind a staple in cross-disciplinary classes worldwide, while the homeschooling materials allow parents to teach their kids with ease as well, with no previous knowledge required both for parents and kids. We also offer our own Python and Arduino APIs for the advanced coders, who want to personalize and customize their coding experience; as well as regular challenges and webinars on our social media for constant inspiration. Our kits start at $149.00, and you can learn more about what’s inside of each set in our online shop.
2. Ozobot Evo Classroom Kit
The classroom kit for K-12 education comes with 12 or 18 bots depending on your class size, accessories, and 1 Ozobot license. It offers the option to code both with and without a screen, and it offers online educational materials, as well as library access, and real-time updates on the newest information and materials. The screen programming uses online access to OzoBlockly visual programming, which is one of the coding languages that can be used to create new games rather than just coding those that are available, which adds to the challenge and ingenuity children learn to adopt. The set is meant especially for classrooms, hence its higher prices – either $1.500 at once or $91 a month. For learning at home, Ozobot also offers individual robot toys.
Another coding tool without a screen meant for children aged 4-9. The kit prides itself in being gender-neutral, intuitive, and requires no previous literacy whatsoever, and understandably also no previous coding experience. The hands-on approach easily teaches coding concepts by allowing kids to create their own art and music. Hence, it can be easily incorporated into art, music, or other cross-curricular coding education – or simply used at home. Matatalab Pro Set is available for $285.00.
Best robot toys for middle school kids
1. Sphero RVR
The toy, a phone-controlled vehicle, is a dream for all kids who love to play with futuristic-looking cars. The vehicle sports an all-terrain design that makes it easy to take many places, both outside and inside, is customizable and includes robotic sensors that make the drive interactive and adventurous. Not only is it a car, of course, but it is also primarily used to play games and to let kids create their own games for the robotic car through play-based learning. As we’ve already discussed in one of our previous blog posts, play-based learning is one of the best methods to use when teaching new concepts to young kids. Sphero RVR is available for $249.99.
A robot that looks as if it stepped out straight out of a sci-fi movie, but built on the principles of the most famous building block toy, LEGO. LEGO Mindstorms is a more advanced robotic toy ideal for coders aged 10+, consists of over 600 pieces and thus offers an endless array of possibilities of construction. The robot itself is able to move and make sound and light effects. Up to 5 robots can be constructed from the one set. Robo Wunderkind building blocks are also compatible with LEGO Mindstorms, making these two tools the perfect buildable companions. The price is $349.99.
The Jimu tool allows children to build their complex robotic creatures and then control it through a Blockly app to move, dance, play, or simply walk. The robots themselves come in packages of particles that can be assembled to one’s own liking but also to build pre-existing models, while these can be constantly built on with new pieces and particles. The functions include movement, sound, color and light effects, as well as the possibility to create and build various characters. The prices start at $39.99 based on the robotic model you choose.
Best robot toys for high schoolers
1. Fischertechnik ROBOTICS TXT Automation Robots
This is an industrial robotic construction tool for those kids who have always been fascinated by cranes, construction sites and tall buildings. Made up of 510 components and allowing the construction of 4 different models, the toy is ideal for kids aged 10+. Because the robot toy is so realistic, children can also learn concepts related to engineering and physics. Windows software is necessary for its operation. This tool is available for $260.00.
Build your own robot from realistic-looking complex tools in groups of 2-3, and while you’re at it, learn about mechanics and functional design, next to, of course, coding and STEM. That is what the VEX V5 Classroom Starter Kit offers. The company also offers a standards-aligned STEM Labs that helps teachers incorporate the tool into their teaching while also approaching critical thinking and problem-solving education. The price starts at $649.00.
This tool offers to build electronics from scratch and is appropriate for both the classroom and the home. While it requires no previous experience, it is best to start with kids aged at least 10 (or even high school-aged kids), since the tool helps teach concepts like current, voltage and digital logic, using sensors, actuators, and distinguishing between analog and digital signals – all while toying with the fundamentals of coding, of course. The tool includes 15 projects as well as the option to experiment and create your own ones via the Arduino IDE. The Starter Kit is available at $91.90.
Have we inspired you? We certainly hope so! While there isn’t the best robot toy in the world, there is definitely a best robot toy for every teacher and eager parent based on their and their children’s needs. Make your pick, get started and discover the joys of creating something complex from scratch together with your children or students!