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Top 10 Coding Toys and Kits for Kids in 2020

A look at ten leading coding toys and kits for kids in 2020

Where we bring you 2020’s 10 most popular coding kits and toys that will make great companions for your kids even as they learn coding…

May 30, 2019    By Team YoungWonks *

Which are the most popular coding toys for kids in 2020? 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 kits available for kids in 2020. These coding kits can help make coding fun for children… 

 

(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/botleyr-the-coding-robot-activity-set.

 

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/.

 

Edison V2.0

Edison’s V2.0 can help kids as young as 4-5 years old learn programming by using the robot’s unique barcodes to activate its pre-set programs. Students get to work with three different programming languages as they pick up more skills; be it icon-based drag-and-drop coding, block-based coding or text-based programming (with Python). Priced at $49, Edison robots are modular and can be easily expanded using LEGO bricks or the EdCreate creator’s kit. They are also ideal in a classroom setup as students can have access to Edison’s lesson plans, teacher’s guides and student worksheet sets. For more information, visit: https://meetedison.com/.

 

Kano Computer Kit

The Kano computer kit is powered by Raspberry Pi. Costing $149.99, 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 $349.99, 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.

 

Makey Makey 

Promising thousands of possibilities, the Makey Makey coding kit - or education box as it is called - is a rather popular coding today for kids today. Right from using bananas like touchpads to drawing your own game controller and taking selfies, this coding kit doesn’t need an elaborate setup and is thus very easy to use. Basically, it lets one use everyday objects along with the internet. For instance, one can attach the alligator clips to any conductive material and thus control the keyboard of your computer, be it the space bar, arrow keys or the right click of the mouse. In fact, kids don’t even need to know programming as they can just plug, clip and play! There’s no software installation required either and the kit is compatible with Mac and Windows. Priced at $49.95, it is ideal for kids aged 8 and above. For more information, visit: https://makeymakey.com/

 

mBot by Makeblock

mBot is a robot aimed at helping children (aged 8 years and above) learn how to build and program; it is an educational aid for teachers in STEAM lessons. It is 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 $69.99, it has many modes to play with, including manual control, 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.

 

Sphero Bolt

An upgrade on the Sphero SPRK+, the Sphero Bolt is indeed a well designed product. For one, this transparent, three-inch rolling robot is rather tough and waterproof. Designed to teach children (aged 5 years and above) how to code using the mobile app, it has infrared sensors for communicating with other robots and a configurable LED matrix display that showcases messages, animations, changes colours and responds to input from the on-board sensors. Moreover, it claims to offer more than two hours of continuous play. There being no speakers, the sound is handled by the Sphero Edu app. Sphero Edu lets one try other people’s code or create one’s own. Coding is easy, and can be done in three ways. There’s the beginner-friendly Draw, where one draws the shape one wants the Bolt to follow, second is Blocks, which uses Scratch code blocks that one drags together to make a set of instructions and lastly, Code, where one programs the sphere using JavaScript. But priced at almost $150, it is not very easy on the pocket either. For more information, visit: https://www.sphero.com/sphero-bolt

 

UbTech’s Jimu Robot UnicornBot 

UbTech has come out with a line of Jimu Robot Kits, one of which is the Unicornbot kit from the Mythical series. Priced at $119, this powerful programmable robot has become rather popular among girls and boys; recommended age for the kit is 8 years and above. One can program this robot to carry out different tasks such as walking, dancing, moving and more using Blockly coding in the JIMU app. Thanks to the kit’s 3D, 360 degree animated building instructions, it doesn’t need any extra tools and can be built using the interlocking, interchangeable parts provided. One can then program movement with the color sensor; the kit includes 8 color cards for customized actions and dances and boasts an eye-catching LED unicorn horn that lets users pick colors on the RGB color spectrum. For more information, visit:  https://www.ubtrobot.com/products/unicornbot-kit?_pos=1&_sid=a3288b345&_ss=r&ls=en.

 

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

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