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A robotics platform with a child-friendly face, the Meccanoid G15 allows you to construct, program and interact with your very own robot. Detailed, step-by-step diagrams guide you through the assembly though you can also use the Meccano pieces to build your own design, like a dinosaur robot and how to connect the electronics. The Meccanoid is pre-programmed to recognise over phrases and tell bad jokes! You can even teach him to dance with motion capture technology!
Time to work out how to program Meccanoid to tidy your bedroom for you The initial build and set-up are fairly complicated and will definitely be best suited to a child-and-parent team. The free app on Apple and Android devices makes it easy to code actions and play back recordings and the "cute" factor of having a robot friend cannot be underestimated! A hands-on science and computing set designed for primary schools, WeDo 2. The aim is to build and program a LEGO robot and use it to investigate physics questions as part of predesigned activities.
The set includes all the bricks needed to build each robot, as well as a battery pack that communicates with your device through Bluetooth and an app, free to download for iPad, Android, PCs and Macs. A brilliant, works-straight-from-the-box way to get your child to engage with scientific principles and computational thinking.
My nine-year-old loved the step-by-step building instructions on the iPad and the explanatory videos. The drag-and-drop programming interface is very intuitive and instant, real results Milo the robot moves and "speaks" and shows different colours kept him engaged for hours trying different coding sequences. While this set is designed for use in the classroom there are easy ways to document your project findings with videos, photos and text, for example , it was a big hit for use on the kitchen table, too, and will be easy to expand on by adding in more bricks and items from our general LEGO collection.
There are pre-loaded games to play, or use open-source Arduino software to create your own versions of Tetris or Pacman the extensive online tutorials guide you through writing the code. You do need an adult who's pretty confident with technology to help with the initial set up, but after that my son really enjoyed writing proper code not drag-and-drop programming blocks to design games and the YouTube how-to videos were excellent and funny.
A good investment choice for keen coders! A great way for young children to begin to understand code sequence and logical behaviour is the drawing mode: Over time you can create mazes or race tracks, or code sequences instead with free apps for iOS or Android.
Available to buy from the USA. My younger boys were really taken with the Ozobot and enjoyed drawing coloured paths for it to follow on paper you can also write code for it. A good option for whole-family play, though the apps are more suited to older users. Make your own computer with Kano , a computer and coding system powered by the Raspberry Pi that aims to make computing as simple as Lego.
This is the perfect choice for young programmers, especially if you're not technologically minded yourself. Simply plug into a screen and and play and learn. This is a beautiful set — really well thought out, with very clear instructions and a very high-spec keyboard. Both my ten-year-old son and I fell in love with it! The SD card comes preloaded with the operating system and from the moment you turn it on you follow simple step-by-step instructions to get started.
The built-in apps are a very effective way to learn how to program; my son loved Snake and Pong and also worked on some Minecraft projects, but you can also use the music app to make music. Setting up a child-safe account is simple. Linked to a tablet or smartphone, it's waterproof and pet-proof and offers hands-on learning activities.
A very good basic programming tool. My eldest son liked using the visual, block-based programming to code specific actions you can also select a text-based code viewer to find out more about the C-based code language used and the younger two just drove it around the house endlessly! There's loads of downloadable content, from games to augmented reality, so it's very adaptable for different ages and interests; you can also use it for tabletop games and as a game controller.
You can also buy a Sphero Chariot to design your own Sphero-powered vehicle with the addition of some building blocks. Get a preview of the cars we'll all be driving in the future with this automotive technology set.
You can build eight different vehicle models and then use a tablet or smartphone iPad or iPhone only to program different driving patterns.
There's loads to learn about autonomous vehicles self-driving cars , laser detectors, GPS and radar systems, and a detailed experiment manual outlines test-drives and more.
We found this tricky to put together, but once it was assembled the kids loved the augmented reality aspect of driving the car through a 'city' on the kitchen table it's created by using QR codes. There's definitely lots to explore, though I am considering switching the wheels, which don't work on carpet, with ones from a different toy system!
A toy that kids can code themselves, with movement sensors and rainbow lights. The lanyard and snap band, included, mean it can be worn any way they like, and the drag-and-drop block programming makes it easy to experiment with different actions and reactions. It works straight out of the box hurrah! A blank canvas option that kids can design their own fun with. Could they liven up teeth-brushing or use the movement sensors and lights to write the rules of an obstacle contest in the park?
Best for eager experimenters and game designers; if your child prefers to follow step-by-step instructions it's probably not for them.
A brilliant starter coding set that makes basic programming immediately accessible to children aged Using the colourful tangible blocks the child controls a character called Awbie, guiding him on a tree-shaking, strawberry-munching adventure! Two or more kids can assemble sequences and play together. A great design which really engages children. Dash is a real robot with a real personality, and our testers warmed to their "CleverBot" immediately.
The easy set up means it can be played with in minutes, and different apps are available to teach kids the basics of programming without a textbook in sight. The set is designed to offer new challenges as a child grows: For older children there are harder coding challenges to complete, presented in engaging step-by-step mini lessons, and block programming to practise in the Blockly app there are some educator videos to help adults get to grips with Dash online.
Extra accessories like a Launcher, a Xylophone and even some robot dressing up are available too. The Dash software really makes it stand out from the competition — it's appealing visually, and the kids understood it amazingly quickly, both the seven-year-old using the app on an iPad as a Dash remote controller to make him light up, speak and move, and the year-old writing Scroll Quest code challenges and unlocking secret videos in their Inventor's Log we all loved the Dash cartoons.
Dash is an excellent robot choice if you have different-aged children: Access thousands of brilliant resources to help your child be the best they can be.
Turn screen time into a super-powered learning experience with a new generation of coding toys. Your child will learn programming skills as they play, as well as the basics of computational thinking and hopefully how to fix your IT problems, too!
We asked programmer and tech-expert Claire Wardle to put some coding toys to the test with the help of her three sons. What is the BBC micro: Primary school coding explained for parents. Best children's books about coding. Best electronics sets for children. Primary school computing and ICT glossary for parents. Best tablet toys for children. Best chemistry sets for children. Science, technology, engineering and maths for girls. Best science sets for children.