Inside: 10 highly-rated STEM coding toys for kids who love coding. Great gift ideas.
Are you, like me, a bit overwhelmed by the explosion of STEM toys out there? Looking to join in the fun and learn alongside your child who loves STEM and coding but not sure where to start?
To make your job easier, I’ve search the interwebs and read the reviews to compile this super list of STEM robotics and coding toys, all of which are highly-rated by educators and parents for their educational value, user-friendliness, popularity with kids, and quality.
10 STEM Coding Toys for Kids Who Love Coding
For more information about the items listed below we’ve included links to Amazon, where you will find reviews and age recommendations (these are affiliate links and I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases).
STEM Coding Toys for Preschool and Kindergarten
Code-and-Go Robot Mouse (ages 4 and up; no app or device required)
Another “hands-on” and “unplugged” coding toy, this robot mouse runs through any maze you create, and you program him to get to his cheese! Kids will have fun building an endless number of paths and mazes, but even more fun is the programming of up to forty commands to get the robot mouse to his cheese!
Modular Cubelets Discovery Set (ages 4 and up; app and device optional)
These modular building cubes, known as the “first robotic blocks,” have magnetic faces that snap together. Even preschoolers can learn to connect them so that they light up, spin, and perform in different ways. Modular Robotics calls it “hands-on” coding and you can see this in action here. As students progress, they can design and program their robotic creations using the Cubelets app, making this a set that will continue to grow with the child. Parents will find the play guide helpful in guiding children’s play and learning.
A Parent’s Gold Choice award winner and also a finalist in the 2019 Toy of the Year Awards, this “unplugged” kit combines stories with coding lessons, all clearly illustrated and explained in a colourful activity guide. Set out the coding cards, then have Sammy the Robot drive over and scan them to program the movements you desire. Various models can be built and robots programmed to create stories: a penguin having fun with friends in a park, a mouse going after cheese, and a fire truck putting out a fire!
Matatalab Hands-On Coding Set (ages 4 -9; no app or device required)
This “screen-free” introduction to coding introduces abstract programming concepts in a “hands-on” way so that beginners are unaware of how much they’re learning as they play! Coding cards are laid out on a gameboard, a control tower is set up, and the Matatabot (robot) receives signals that direct his movements. In addition to the double-sided game mat, the set includes obstacles and flags to set up, adding to the fun!
STEM Coding Toys for School Age Kids
Kano Computer Kit (ages 6 – 14)
If you really want to understand how a computer operates, build your own! This kit comes with a real processor, a keyboard, and an operating system, all key components of computer! Put them all together, hook it up to your computer monitor or TV and, like magic, you’ve created your own fully-functioning and programmable computer! The transparent processor, a Raspberry Pi, allows kids to see the inner workings, and coloured cables and an illustrated guidebook make it all a much less intimidating process.
CoderMindz Board Game (ages 6 and up; no app or device required)
Play this board game a few times, and you’ll have mastered some of the most abstract concepts in coding and artificial intelligence. Like its predecessor, CoderBunnyz, this board game teaches and reinforces coding concepts. In this game, however, as you move your “bot” from dot to dot on the gameboard, you begin to grasp how machines learn and “infer,” AI concepts that lead to machines behaving “intelligently” and “autonomously.” Sound advanced? It’s suggested for ages 6 and up!
Artie 3000- The Coding Robot (for ages 7 and up)
A product of Educational Insights, this robot toy combines coding with creativity! Pop in a coloured marker at the base of the robot, then program Artie and he will draw as he moves. Kids just beginning to learn to code can quickly learn from the preset programs in the app, and more advanced kid programmers will enjoy the levels of challenge as they create their own designs through programming.
Avenger Hero Inventor Kit (ages 8 and up)
Kids obsessed with superheroes can design and create “wearable tech” using their imaginations and the components of this kit. Once designed and coded, inventions can be decorated and then the real fun begins: play the part of a hero with superpowers! Be sure to check the requirements for programming using IOS and Android smartphones.
Code Piano (ages 8 and up)
A 2019 award winner of both the Parent’s Choice and Family Review, this new STEM toy allows kids to use computer programming to make and modify piano tunes! After installing the software required, kids actually type in the code on the laptop or desktop keyboard, making it more like what real programmers do.
SmartGurlz Maria Doll with Siggy Coding Toys (ages 7 and up)
Playing with dolls has come a long way! Program Maria to scoot all around according to commands entered into the downloadable app. Once the programming commands are mastered, kids can add obstacles, make pathways and mazes, and use coding to make sure Maria has a trouble-free ride!
If your STEM enthusiast loves to build, check out our companion lists STEM Stocking Stuffers for Kid Engineers and 15 Awesome Building and Constructing Toy Sets for Kids.