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Best Robot Toys That Teach Kids Coding and STEM Skills

Robots and toys that will help your child to learn to code, recognize social cues, or just practice building Legos.

It’s easy for parents to spend a ton of money on toys that quickly end up in the trash. Instead, look at the great robot toys that you can get. These robots for kids can introduce kids to STEM concepts, activate their inner “maker”, and even teach them some coding. Plus these robot toys for kids are also, you know, tons of fun.

So if you’re looking for a high-tech robot toy for your high-tech non-robot kid, look no further. We’ve rounded up a bunch of cool robots kits for kids, from a robot dinosaur toy to a robot ball, that are beloved by online reviewers and Fatherly staff alike. All you have to do is pick an age-appropriate option with a level of difficulty that suits your kid. Because you don’t want to discourage your kid by giving her a robot that requires a Stanford computer science degree to enjoy.

Kids use coding blocks to create music beats while coding. Which is a great idea, because music is an integral part of child development.

Pros: The idea is simple yet brilliant. Kids love music, and now, they can can compose their own tunes by arranging Osmo’s coding blocks into patterns and sequences. It’s great for kids six and up.

Cons: This doesn’t work without the Osmo base, which is sold separately.

Our absolute favorite coding robot to date, Cozmo expresses hundreds of emotions, recognizes kids, and remembers names. Plus, kids can use him as a spy cam.

Pros: Kids can play games with Cozmo, sure. But what’s really cool is switching him into explorer mode and guide him to places, and see what he sees on a smartphone or tablet. He’ll even greet people on command. He’s great for kids eight and up.

Cons: You absolutely need a phone to make the most of Cozmo, and if you’re not into letting kids use devices, this is not the robot for you.

This wonderful set gives kids the chance to explore how a variety of electronics work, including lights, sounds, magnetism, and, yes, radios.

Pros: Kids eight and older have access to more than 328 experiments, connecting things like a AM/FM radio, a flying fan, a doorbell, LED lights, and even things that make animal sounds.

Cons: Kids need to be able to follow directions.

These are cubes, only they're brilliant magnetic robot blocks.

Pros: Kids built the robot of their dreams with these cubelets. They are little blocks of software inside little blocks of hardware and because block has a special function, how kids assemble their robot changes its behavior. Every single time. It’s great for kids four and older.

Cons: They’re pricey.

Kids use play dough to learn the basics of electrical circuits in a hands-on way.

Pros: This great set teaches electrical circuits with conductive and insulating dough, letting kids squish, mold, and sculpt the dough while learning about engineering and tech.

Cons: This is better for older kids, because you need to be somewhat careful when using it.

Kids build their own working computer by following a step-by-step book.

Pros: Ideal for kids six and up, this coding kit teaches them the intricacies of building their own computer complete with programmable LED lights, DIY case, power button, wireless keyboard with track pad, memory, HDMI, and and power cables. Kids can plug into any HDMI screen and browse the Internet and connect to the Kano community.

Cons: Once you’re done building it, you’re done building it. Meaning, it’s not modular. And the software is a bit tough for younger kids to handle.

No screens required: Botley is ready to go out of the box and features completely screen-free coding. He has a remote programmer transmits your kid's commands and gets him rolling.

Pros: Great for kids five and up, Botley is a fantastic solution for parents concerned with screen obsession. Botley is operated via a remote and kids have him navigating obstacles, moving in patterns, or completing simple tasks. They can also build their own challenges.

Cons: Botley looks cute. Botley is fun. Botley is also a lot like a remote controlled car.

Sphero bolt is an app-enabled robotic ball that kids can drive and code. It's learning disguised as fun, from a brand we love.

Pros: Suitable for kids eight and older, the Bolt is the size of a baseball. It has an LED light matrix that lets kids program the robot to show characters, vector graphics, sensor data, or play games on the matrix itself.  Coolest of all is BOLT’s built-in compass that allows kids to drive the robot, and program it to follow real-world directions on a map.

Cons: It moves a little slowly, so if your kid is a speed demon, maybe think twice.

Music is integral to child development. And these Sphero Specdrums let kids tap any color or the included play pad to create sounds, loops, and beats. They can create their own music without you spending a fortune on pianos, trumpets and guitars.

Pros: Ideal for kids six and older, the Sphero Specdrums are app-enabled musical rings that turn colors into sounds. You simply connect to the Specdrum mix app and tap on anything to create and mix any sounds, beats, and loops that all play through your phone or tablet. It’s basically limitless creativity.

Cons: No cons, except maybe the price.

Instead of using a screen, kids work with Sammy. He's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that's really a robot that teaches coding principles and skills to children in kindergarten and up.

Pros: Sammy the toy robot is another fantastic option for parents leery of screens. Kids program Sammy by laying down a sequence of physical cardboard code cards. They can program him to move around, light up, and play sounds.

Cons: Be careful that kids don’t bend the cardboard cards, because that will jack up the game.

Kids can build and rebuild this toy robot into five cool multifunctional models of this robot, and then use a tablet to bring it to life.

Pros: Like so much with the Lego brand, the premise is brilliantly simple. Kids build and code this robot toy, and then download the app to make it move and do tons of other stuff. They can even turn the robot into a guitar with pitch bend and sound effects.

Cons: Aside from the price, there are no cons. Find us a kid who gets bored with this, we dare you.

Lego plus robots equals fun. It's not much more complicated than that, but the kinds of builds and programming your kid can do with this kit definitely are. Good for ages 10 and up.

Pros: The same Lego bricks your kids know and love form the basis for the robotic platform. This kit comes with instructions for 17 different robots, but we’re betting that your kids are good for ideas for at least 17 more. The robotic part of the kit lets kids program them, using special sensors and a central programmable unit. A remote control is included with each set, but the real action happens on the smartphone, tablet, and computer apps.

Cons: You’ll pay a good chunk of cash for this 601-piece kit, so we’d recommend saving it for only the most Lego-obsessed kids.

We like the simplicity of how these blocks are defined: sense, think, or act. It's an intuitive system that will help kids understand how everything functions together. The companion app is particularly robust, with standard block-based coding along with unique features like personality swap. Good for ages 4 and up.

Pros: The app has lessons appropriate for different ages, so it can be a companion to kids as they grow up, get more interested in coding, and continue to grow their skillset.

Cons: On the pricier side, and it’s hard to play with this toy without a phone even though

Artie is a programmable robot that draws whatever you code on any sheet of paper you want. Good for ages 4 and up.

Pros: Artie the coding robot connects to your wifi network, and you log into the Artie interface to drag and drop blocks of code into the command area. You then tell Artie to turn right or left, move forward or backward, and pick up or put down his pen to draw what you want. You can use preprogrammed shapes and games, or write your own custom code for Artie.

Cons: It’s battery-operated, which is annoying.

This incredible toy lets you become a dinosaur trainer. Yes, that's right, you train your own interactive dinosaur and toggle between training mode, guard mode, RC mode, and total control mode. Good for ages 8 and up.

Pros: So is Blue being a good lady? Then reward her with treats. Or pet her. And as you train her, you unlock higher levels and her behavior improves. You use the joystick to move her around, and you’ll be stunned by her lifelike movements. And yes, she responds to your commands.

Cons: The major turn-off is the price. It’s a lot for a robot that’s more of a virtual pet than an educational toy.

Dash & Dot are a pair of adorable, programmable, dare we say Minion-esque robots that can build, make music, or cruise around. They're Lego-compatible, so kids can adorn them with pretty much any decoration they can imagine. Coding the bots to do their bidding helps kids understand that computers are actually machines that people build to do what they want, not just sentient hunks of metal that wreak havoc out of the box. Not yet, anyway.

Pros: We like that this kit is a complete set, with two robots and accessories like brick connectors, a xylophone, a launcher and missiles, a bulldozer bar, a tow hook, and two USB charging cables. Four different apps help kids get all they can out of their new robot friends. The Path app teaches the fundamentals of robotics and coding, the Go app helps them learn about the Dash’s capabilities, the Blockly app teaches advanced coding concepts, and the Xylo app helps them use the aforementioned instrument to play music. Good for ages 6 and up.

Cons: This toy robot doesn’t come cheap even though it’s fairly basic (not constructible and without a real focus on learning computer science). If your kids are particularly creative or already familiar with some of the basics of coding we’d recommend a more advanced robot toy.

One of the most robust building-coding systems around gets the Star Warstreatment. Kids can build their own R2D2 and write code for it. Fair warning: It won't actually let them hack into the Death Star. Good for ages 8 and up.

Pros: This is a fantastic toy for the Star Wars fan in your life. Kids get to build the robot themselves, connect to it with a phone, and program it to do whatever they want. It is the droid you and they are looking for.

Cons: It’s less flexible than other kits, in that you can only really build R2, who may not be as attractive to younger kids, what we’re calling the BB-8 generation.

This pocket-sized bot is the rare coding toy that doesn't require a smartphone or tablet but is still compatible with them. Kids can draw with the included activity pack to learn basic coding concepts. The bot itself will essentially go over the paper, reading the colors below, and reacting with different actions to different colors.

Pros: When kids are ready they can use OzoBlockly, the company’s drag-and-drop code editor to deepen their understanding of commands, loops, etc. They’ll also love the fact that loading the code to the Ozobot is as simple as holding it up to the screen. Good for ages 6 and up.

Cons: The Ozobot is tiny — it weighs 0.64 ounces — and we’re already worried about it getting lost and/or stepped on.

At 4 feet tall and with over 1,200 parts, this MecchaNod is one of the largest toy robots we've ever seen. It has big, bright eyes and articulated limbs that move thanks to 10 separate motors. Out of the box, the MeccaNoid can say over 1,000 words and phrases, facts, jokes, and perform dance moves. All in all, it's a more than capable giant. Good for ages 10 and up.

Pros: The sheer size of the MeccaNoid is one of its best features. It’s big enough for kids to feel like they have a play companion instead of just a toy. There are also lots of bells and whistles. Voice recognition capability recognizes and performs defined actions according to one of the more than 100 commands, and those you program yourself. In ragdoll mode, kids can swipe the screen of their smart device to make the robot move. And the fact that you can build and rebuild the robot means kids never get tired of this thing.

Cons: There isn’t an explicit coding education function, so this isn’t the robot to get for your aspiring Googler. There’s also no Bluetooth or wifi, so kids are left to plug their phones directly into the MeccaNoid to control it.

On the other end of the size spectrum, this ping-pong-ball-size robot uses facial recognition technology to drive the ball. For real.

Pros: You had us at facial recognition. Plus, the Sphero Mini has a gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED lights that glow in a slew of colors. You can swap out colorful, interchangeable shells. It’s very cool. Good for ages 8 and up.

Cons: The Sphero is sadly incompatible with a host of devices and operating systems, so make sure you read the fine print before you buy.

Another great robot toy from Anki, the Vector Robot's killer feature is its built-in Amazon Alexa. The voice assistant means the Vector can answer questions, tell you the weather, and do pretty much anything an Amazon Echo can do. And because he's connected to the internet, the Vector is constantly updated with new features.

Pros: The Vector is not all talk. He can independently cruise around the house, recognizing and avoiding obstacles, and even play and dance along to music, like all good robots should.

Cons: Parents who are wary of technology might want to avoid a camera-equipped, mobile Alexa device that’s designed to interact with their kids. It’s also not a particularly educational toy.

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