Top 10 Coding Toys and Kits for Kids in 2019

We list ten leading coding toys and kits for children this year…

Here we bring you 10 popular coding toys and kits that will make great summer companions for your kids even as they have fun while learning coding…

May 30, 2019    By Team YoungWonks *

Which are the top coding toys and kits in 2019? At a time when we are more dependent on computers and the Internet than ever, having kids learn coding is indeed a great idea. It will give them an early start at a subject that is increasingly relevant in current times. This blog then lists the top 10 coding toys and kits available for kids this year. They are essentially fun learning tools that can make coding fun for children as they go about building new things this summer… 

That said, while these toys and kids may be great when it comes to getting kids started in the world of coding, kids who wish to take their love for coding to the next level should do so with the help of a computer science program, one that has a structured curriculum and individual coaching. Even kids who may not find these toys as fascinating, a structured curriculum and individual attention is more likely to spark their interest in the subject. 


Below is a list of the ten most popular coding toys and kits in 2019. (The kits have been mentioned in alphabetical order.) 


Botley the Coding Robot

Botley the Coding Robot is a great tool for kids who are just starting out with coding. In fact, it is ideal even for kids as young as 5 years old. For starters, Botley can be used right out of the box. Then there’s the fact that it comes with a rather comprehensive 77-piece activity set, a remote programmer, detachable robot arms, 40 coding cards, 6 double-sided tiles, 27 obstacle building pieces and a starter guide with coding challenges. Using it makes for a fun and educational experience as Botley can carry out a range of functions such as detecting objects and moving around them (with if/then logic), navigating obstacle courses and following looping commands and black lines. What makes it an even better choice for younger kids is that it is 100% screen free. The easy-to-use remote programmer, transmits the user’s commands, and this means no phone or tablet is required to operate the robot. Priced at $79.99, Botley will help kids pick up early STEM skills even as they have interactive fun. For more information, visit: https://www.learningresources.com/product/botley-the-coding-robot-activity-set-2935.do 


Dash by Wonder Workshop 

Equipped with its performance and multiple sensors, Dash is a robot that interacts with and responds to its surroundings. Priced at $149.99, Dash needs no assembly and is thus ideal for younger boys and girls (think ages 6 and above) as well. This brightly colored automaton looks like a set of three turquoise balls with an infrared eye and wheels below. It’s a good bet even for kids who can’t read all the text directions in the software, as it is highly interactive and pretty easy to navigate. Dash can move, make sounds and light up; kids can combine these functions in a number of ways. Spinning, moving, circumnavigating other objects and understanding commands (like clapping) are smoothly performed by Dash. Bear in mind that Wonder, Go, Blockly, and Path are the four main apps one can use with Dash; all four are available for iOS and Android. One needs at least one app to make the automaton perform a task. While Internet is required at first to update Dash and download programs, Dash can communicate with your device via Bluetooth, so once Dash is set up, you do not the Internet. Also, one can connect Dash to multiple devices, although not at the same time. One can also create programs in the app without being connected to Dash and this helps reduce Dash’s battery consumption. For more information, visit: https://www.makewonder.com/robots/dash/  


Kano Computer Kit

The Kano computer kit is powered by Raspberry Pi. Costing almost $150 USD, even 5-year-olds can handle this DIY computer kit with ease. The kit comes with wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad for the Kano OS, HDMI and USB cables, an 8GB MicroSD card, a speaker and other essentials, plus the open source Kano operating system. This portable, Linux-based computer has a Raspberry Pi board acting as the brain of the machine and upon assembly, it offers a range of fun coding challenges. With simple steps one can type code, drag blocks, learn Python, Javascript, and Terminal commands. Although created mainly for children, the kit holds a lot of appeal for grown up makers and hobbyists as well since it has programs that allow one to build customized versions of popular games such as Minecraft and Pong. For more information, visit: https://kano.me/store/row/products/computer-kit


Lego Mindstorms EV3

Lego Mindstorms is a software platform created by Lego for the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks. The EV3 then is the third generation robotics kit in the Lego Mindstorms line. Like its predecessors, this one too has an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts to create the mechanical systems. Costing $350, it is a rather expensive robot kit. But one look at its specifics will also explain why it commands such a price. For starters, the main brain brick runs on an ARM9 300Mhz processor with 64MB of RAM and 16MB of flash storage. There’s a USB port for connecting the brick to your computer, Wi-Fi for sending programs and sounds, an SD slot for holding more files and Bluetooth for controlling the bot with your phone or tablet. Also important to note that one is in fact getting to work with five five main bots in the EV3 series, including the R3PTAR (a sneaky cobra), the tank-like TRACK3R, and the six-legged scorpion-like SPIK3R. Each bot has a unique feature, like a claw grip or a ball shooter. On the motor front, there are two larger motors, one smaller one, a touch sensor, an IR (infrared) sensor, and a color sensor. There is also a remote control for moving a finished robot around the room. One can program the brick without building one of the five starter bots; it is ideal for kids aged 12 and above. Programming the robot is said to be really easy, especially given that the software, available for both Windows and Mac, works like a visual diagramming tool.  A rather imaginative robot, the EV3 recognizes color levels, shoots red balls into the air, and can follow complex programming commands. For more information, visit: https://www.lego.com/en-us/mindstorms/products/mindstorms-ev3


littleBits Code Kit 

littleBits Code Kit fosters computational thinking among kids. The kit comprises of Bits (or modules) and they are essentially electronic building blocks. By building circuits and programming, students get hands-on experience of how things work. The kit includes 16 Bits (blocks), 30 accessories, and Code Kit app, plus access to detailed video tutorials; the parts are fairly easy to assemble. LittleBits coding software is based on Google’s Blockly and this makes programming more intuitive. Kids can thus drag and drop the Blockly code and view JavaScript to understand the structure and syntax of text-based coding in addition to learning basic programming concepts such as inputs & outputs, loops, logic, variables, and functions through an assortment of coding games. Each Bit/ module is an electronic circuit or switch, grouped into one of these categories: power, input, output and wire. Each category is color-coded. So for instance, the connectors on output modules, such as buzzers and lights, are green, while the connectors on input modules, such as buttons and dimmers, are pink. Costing $299.95, the kit can be used by up to 3 students and is ideal for grades 3-8. For more information, visit: https://littlebits.com/products/code-kit


mBot by Makeblock 

mBot is a robot aimed at helping children learn how to build and program; it is an educational aid for teachers in STEAM lessons. It is also a strong contender at large robot competitions, such as MakeX. mBot encourages children to use their hands and their brain, even as they employ their interdisciplinary abilities and enjoy creating something new. With the help of a screwdriver, step-by-step instructions, and a study schedule, children get to create a robot from scratch; this robot can be customised too. So the kids get to use robotic machinery and electronic parts, learn the basics of block-based programming, and hone their critical thinking and design skills. Priced at around $100, it has many modes to play with, including obstacle avoidance and line-follow. It is easy to build too - the robot can be built within 15 mins - and can be controlled by remote or smartphones through Makeblock app (available on iOS and Android). Moreover, the advanced mBlock software is compatible with Windows, MacOS, Linux and Chrome and is a highly popular entry-level coding platform with more than 450,000+ users. This means that kids will have no dearth of ideas to look at and get inspired from. For more information, visit: https://www.makeblock.com/steam-kits/mbot


Ozobot Bit 

Ozobot Bit is an award-winning coding robot. This pocket-sized robot is in fact a color sensing robot that reads and responds to 23 possible codes. Users can control speed, direction, unlock special moves, activate timers, and play games. The user can draw paths for Ozobot to follow using four different colored markers, after which the inputs are generated. Ozobot reads these commands and carries out the action. Each Ozobot Bit - priced at $60 and ideal for kids aged 8 years and above - comes with the drawing guides that help take the user through step-by-step commands and practice different code combinations before making their own. Users can access the Ozobot site which has several lesson plans and challenges for free. What’s more, Ozo also has its own block programming language. This means that users can create programs and load them to Ozo by placing the bot on the device’s screen. In the OzoBot App, users can come up with paths for Ozo to trace on screen; this feature works better with tablets. The kit also comes with six dice to simulate random design challenges. For more details, visit: https://ozobot.com/products/ozobot-bit 


Piper Computer Kit

At a glance, the Piper Computer Kit seems to be just a Raspberry Pi in a wooden case, but this kit is much more than what it appears to be. A highly acclaimed coding kit, it aims to enhance children’s engineering and coding skills, electronics knowledge and critical thinking. Each kit comes with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B computer with access to the GPIO pins, a mouse (no keyboard), a breadboard for mounting buttons, LEDs and a battery. The Raspberry Pi has onboard wireless networking and Bluetooth. Other features include four USB ports, an Ethernet port, a standard HDMI connector, multipurpose TRRS audio/media port, a USB power connector and a microSD slot. Before getting into the projects, kids need to build the breadboard box, charge the battery, boot up the computer and check for updates. Projects with the Piper Computer Kit include putting together circuits, playing a Minecraft-based game, and solving math and logic puzzles. Priced at $299, the kit is ideal for kids in the age group of 7-13. For more information, visit: https://www.playpiper.com/products/piper-computer-kit-2 


Sphero SPRK+ 

This is an educational robot built with the specific purpose of encouraging kids to use their imagination and employ it in the world of robotics. Ideal for kids older than 10 years of age, getting the robot to function requires one to download the Sphero Edu app, after which one can code SPRK+ across many platforms using JavaScript. Using the app, one can program the robot for drag and drop actions, controls, operators, and more. This spherical robot has a scratch-resistant, durable (also water-resistant) shell and its battery life is 60 minutes. It may be priced rather steep - it costs almost $130 - but it comes with Bluetooth SMART, programmable sensors like motor encoders, LED lights, accelerometer, and a gyroscope, which, in turn, allow for a range of fun coding projects. For example, one can program the robot and have it do a painting, navigate a maze, mimic the solar system or even swim across the water. SPRK+ - thus fosters a love of coding and robotics. For more details, visit: https://www.sphero.com/sphero-sprk-plus 


VEX Classroom and Competition Super Kit

VEX Robotic kits are made up of modular robotic parts and allow one to design and make an almost infinite number of different robots. VEX systems are widely used in schools because of their durability, high quality and educational material. Priced at $1049, VEX Classroom and Competition Super Kit may not be easy on the pocket but it is meant for use by a team of 4-6 kids (ideally 12 years and above). The kit combines both mechatronics and programming to help kids enjoy a very impressive robotics learning and building experience. Kids can design advanced mechanisms with included mechanical components while integrating the included sensors to increase robot feedback. Users can avail of the VEX EDR Curriculum to learn the basics of engineering, robotics and design all the way up to a semester-ending classroom competition. So if your kid is looking to be part of a team in a robotics contest, these kits make for a good choice. For more information, visit: https://www.vexrobotics.com/276-3000.html 


*Contributors: Written by Vidya Prabhu; Lead image by: Leonel Cruz

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