Coding is very much in vogue, especially for children. Teachers, schools and parents around the world are realizing how valuable it can be to teach kids the value of learning how the technology around them actually works.
Thus, there is a wide range of toys and robots designed for children to master coding, although they differ in their approaches. Some focus on teaching the importance of sequencing while others let you dabble in AI. One important lesson from them? Your child is never too young to start learning to code.
This list includes some of the best coding toys and robots out there, offering several options for different ages and budgets. Some will require you to put your smartphone or tablet to work, while others will focus on just having fun.
Kano Harry Potter Coding Set
This magic kit from Kano allows you to create your own wand before you start learning how to code. The kit, which is well put together, includes easy to follow instructions, colors, details, and that all-important wand.
To cut costs you still need to provide your own device to connect it (like an iPad or smartphone), but you're very unlikely to be missing one of those, right? Young children will struggle without parental help, but this kit is a great way to explain some of the magical coding.
Looking and sounding like a robot from WALL-E Disney, Vector is a miniature robot with a huge amount of personality. It uses AI to whistle around the kitchen table, be able to recognize your face and therefore say "Hello", and when using a smartphone or tablet, play games and perform a series of tricks.
You can use the side education stuff that comes into play with a companion app that allows vector code. The more you play, the more you can unlock. Great fun, but you'll need a phone or tablet to get the most out of it.
Price Code-Rack Fisher
Aimed at very young children (3+), at the code-rack about learning the cost of sequencing. The caterpillar can be broken into nine segments that control whether the caterpillar goes left, right, forward, or wiggle, among other instructions with the goal of the game, to reach the goal, place you on the floor.
It's really a level entry, but it's a lot of fun and helps those cost the team's building blocks in order to get results. Of course, for preschoolers.
Awbie Coding Osmo
Osmo is a series of games for kids designed to merge physical and app based play using the iPad. This game - check out our full Osmo Awbit coding commentary - lets you follow Awbie's adventures as he eats his way through the on-screen strawberries.
For this to happen, children must live along with physical coding blocks, giving instructions to move, run, jump, or stop. The game works by using the camera on the iPad to watch what things you put down in front of the screen and then follow your commands accordingly.
Mind Constructor Robot
Aimed at 6-10 year olds who want to code, the mind robot designer from the Italian company Clementoni is that while you can expand it with an app, you don't need a smartphone or tablet to use it.
Instead, you can either program it by pressing a series of buttons on its back or, better yet, just talk to it thanks to voice recognition. You can also download turtle-browsing robot with pen coloring to help you paint a picture.
Bottle - coding robot
Ditching the need for a smartphone or tablet all together, Bottle is a fun friendly coding robot that is suitable for young children. In the box you get a stack of activity accessories to play with and an all important remote control to be able to code up to 80 learning steps.
It may seem simple, but it has a bottle of object detection, loop statements, and a black line below. For those who are worried about screen time, this is great.
BinaryBots Plastic2Code Crab
BinaryBots is the perfect robotics toy maker that uses the BBC micro:bit pocket computer coded inside the toy (which is sold separately though, that's a key note). With a mechanical constructor-like approach in order to play, kids must build a robot before they can code and control it.
There are three kits to start with: Crab Totem, Turtle Totem, and Spider Totem, and they can all be combined and enhanced. One for older children want to experiment further.
Logiblocks is an electronic coding toy that allows you to physically bind "commands" together to build an electronic system. The blocks, which are battery powered and sealed to allow uncontrolled play, can be arranged in a variety of ways to create everything from rain gauges to Morse code to machine code.
There are a number of kits available with various designs to complete. All interchangeable so you can expand as you go. The company also plans to include a bolt-on bluetooth to allow scratch programs to control Logibloc circuits and vice versa.
Sphero Mini is a scaled down version of the original robot-toy app. The size of a ping pong ball, you can control it with different modes in the sphero mini app, or you can just use your face thanks to a new feature called Disk Face. As you might expect, this one uses his facial expressions to guide the ball.
Sphero mini sports a small gyroscope, accelerometer and LED lights, as well as bright, replaceable shells.
It uses micro USB charging and gives you about one-hour of play time after an hour of full charge. It also comes with three mini cones and six mini skittles for various games.