12 of the best coding toys for kids of all ages 2021

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  • The best coding toys for kids are engaging, robust, and affordable. Whether you’re looking for coding toys for toddlers, primary-schoolers, or teenagers, there’s something for everyone on our list. 

    Whether your child has a specific coding toy on their top Christmas toys wish list or you’re looking for inspiration for the best educational toys to buy, there’s something on our list of the best coding toys that should fit the bill.

    The children of today are growing up in a different world to their parents – and they will need different skill sets. Computers and coding are now a core part of the National Curriculum, taught from Reception at school. You don’t have to be a budding engineer or a STEM enthusiast – learning how to program, problem-solve and code is a key part of their development, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to sit in front of a screen all day.

    To help them with getting to grips with these new skills (and to have some fun too!), we’ve rounded up the best coding toys around for children as young as three. They include a mix of low and high-tech, and feature a caterpillar that moves and flashes, a drawing robot, an electronic circuit made of Play-Doh, and a Harry Potter wand-making kit. There’s even a turtle board game in there.

     

    Top coding toys

    Learning Resources Artie 3000 Drawing Coding Robot – £49.99 | John Lewis
    LEGO 17101 Boost Creative Toolbox Robotics Kit – £108.14 | Amazon
    Learning Support Robot Mouse – £29.00 | Amazon
    Botley 2.0 Coding Robot – £52.24 | Amazon
    Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit – £89.95 | Amazon
    Squishy Circuits Deluxe Kit – £59.99 | Amazon
    Galt Cosmic Coding Game – £12.99 | John Lewis
    Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar – £39.99 | Amazon
    Wonder Workshop Dash Robot – £211.35 | Amazon
    ThinkFun Robot Turtles Logic and Coding Game – £29.02 | Amazon
    Osmo Coding Starter Set – £69.99 | John Lewis
    Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit – £121.52 | Amazon

    What are the Best Coding Toys?

    1. Learning Resources Artie 3000 Drawing Coding Robot

    Artie Drawing Coding Robot

    Credit: John Lewis

    Age suitability: 7+

    Artie is where art meets coding. Kids create a code via drag and drop remote control, and point and click which makes this nifty little robot create a beautiful design of their choosing.

    This game helps kids develop their left-hand brain skills, such as geometry and maths, which are used to control Artie, and their right-hand brain skills of imagination and creativity, as they design patterns for the robot to draw. It’s a great beginner coding game for children who are naturally more creative, although there are advanced levels too, as they become more proficient.

    As well as the robot itself, this pack comes with four washable markers, three activity cards to start you off, and an easy-to-use guide. Artie has had some great reviews with one customer commenting: ‘If you have a child that is intrigued by both design and technology then this would be perfect’.

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £49.99

    2. LEGO 17101 Boost Creative Toolbox Robotics Kit

    Lego Robot

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 7+

    Take your kids’ LEGO obsession to another level with Vernie the Robot. After building Vernie using the 847 Lego pieces, kids can learn the basics of robotics with this multi-functional robot kit.

    Using simple coding blocks on a tablet program, they can make Vernie tell jokes, dance, play a musical instrument and even break wind. In fact, there are over 60 activities that they can try out for themselves, whether it’s rocking out to Guitar400 or fostering a robotic cat.

    The kit includes a LEGO Move Hub with Bluetooth, a motor, and colour and distance sensor so it really feels like you’ve created a living, breathing robot. ‘If your child is interested in Lego or programming, this really brings the two together neatly and it has to be the best Lego set I have seen in years,’ wroteone happy customer.

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £149.97

    3. Learning Support Robot Mouse

    Learning Support Robot Mouse

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 4+

    This robotic mouse has been designed to introduce coding and sequencing to Reception and even Pre-school children. The aim of the game is to program Jack, a brightly coloured mouse who squeaks and lights up, through a maze, to some cheese as a reward. Playing cards help kids find the best way for the mouse to go and develop their problem-solving and logic skills without them even realising it.

    The mouse can be programmed up to 40 steps and features two speeds so you can either use him on the floor or on a tabletop.

    If they enjoy this game, it might be worth getting the STEM Robot Mouse Coding Activity Set (£51.74) as this includes another programmable mouse and a fully customisable maze board with walls and tunnels for added complexity.

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £29.00

    4. Botley 2.0 Coding Robot

    Botley Coding Robot

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 5+

    This award-winning coding robot is a great screen-free way to introduce very young children to the joys of coding. Instead of a tablet or phone, cards are used to program this robot that moves, lights up, and makes music, all of which they will love.

    You can make Botley spin around, move objects, and put on a light show; you can also program him to move up to 150 steps in six directions. There are 16 different interactions, with Botley transforming into a train, police car, ghost, and much more. The remote control that comes with Botley has been designed for kids and is perfectly chunky for little hands.

    ‘It’s very sturdy and able to take a good knock, plus it keeps them interested when learning to program the toy,’ wrote one reviewer.

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £50.75

    5. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

    Harry Potter Wand coding kit

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 6+

    Forget a trip down Diagon Alley to see Ollivander, Harry Potter fans can try their hand at magic as this kit lets them build their own wand. Using a specially designed Kano app, they can create a wand that responds to their every movement and then do so much more.

    Imagine making feathers fly, fire flow, pumpkins grow and goblets multiple? You can do it all (on-screen) by coding one of the 70 challenges. Create mythical creatures, make your own sweets, master spells and find wizarding artifacts. Just wave your wand and watch the effects on the screen in front of you.

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £89.95

    6. Squishy Circuits Deluxe Kit

    Squishy Circuits Kit

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 8+

    Squishy Circuits is what happens when you mix play-doh and coding. As the name suggests, Squishy Circuits helps kids learn about electronics while enjoying the tactile nature of play-doh. The idea is that kids learn about circuits in a fun, creative way; they use the play-doh to make shapes such as animals and they get them to light up with a basic circuit.

    The kit comes with seven colours of pre-made conductive dough and one container of insulating dough; there’s also a Piezoelectric Buzzer, Motor with Fan, Mechanical Buzzer, and Switch for your circuit. ‘Very educational, disguised as fun,’ commented one reviewer.

    VIEW ON AMAZON | £59.99

    7. Galt Cosmic Coding Game

    Galt Cosmic Coding Game

    Credit: John Lewis

    Age suitability: 6+

    It’s not easy to find a coding toy for under £15 (or under £30 for that matter!) but Galt has managed it with their Cosmic Coding Game. Wannabe astronauts compete in this family board game to collect stars while avoiding black holes and disruptive aliens. No prior coding knowledge is needed. The game has been created to be compatible with Key Stage 1 Computer Science and is hugely fun to play, while also being a foundation for coding, algorithms, and programming.

    The game comes with four plastic rocket counters, 36 movement cards, 20 star cards, eight mission cards, and a handy guide. Expect lots of late nights reaching for the stars.

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £12.99

    8. Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar

    Fisher Price Code A Pillar

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 3+

    Start them off early with this Fisher-Price gadget, aimed at children as young as three. Like most toys for this age group, the Code-A-Pillar comes with flashing lights and cheery music but, unlike most toddler toys, it also teaches them to program.

    You can break the caterpillar into nine different segments which can then be arranged to make it move left, right and wiggle. For those wanting to stretch their pre-schoolers even more, the kit comes with targets and you can challenge your child to arrange the segments in the correct combination so that the caterpillar reaches the target. ‘Didn’t know whether my five-year-old would like it but it is the most played with present she has had this Xmas. She loves it, and it’s great to think she is learning the basics of coding as she plays,’ wrote one reviewer. This definitely one of the best coding toys for pre-schoolers.

    VIEW ON AMAZON | £39.99

    9. Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

    Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 5+

    At around £200, the Wonder Workshop Dash Robot might be on the pricier side, but it will last them from five through to age 11, with codes becoming increasingly complex.

    Dash the Robot comprises a stack of spheres that whizzes around on three sets of wheels, but the clever part is that he interacts with five apps (for iOS or Android), which offer everything from basic coding to more complex programming. The apps include tutorials for your children (and you) to learn how to build increasingly complex programs; you can transform your robot into an alarm clock, a bulldozer, a sensor, and even a catapult.

    There are hundreds of games and challenges to explore to suit all ages and interests and they are regularly updated so they’ll never get bored.

    VIEW ON AMAZON | £206.40

    10. ThinkFun Robot Turtles Logic and Coding Game

    Think Robot Turtles game

    Credit: Amazon

    Age suitability: 4+

    This simple board game offers a low-tech alternative to learning coding with cute, robot turtles as the main characters. The Robot Turtles Coding Board Game sees you place a jewel tile on one corner of the board and a turtle tile on the opposite corner. The aim of the game is to use directional code cards and logical reasoning to move your turtle forwards until it reaches the jewel.

    Don’t worry if this all sounds very easy, as you progress through the levels, it gets much harder and more complicated – especially if you play with five players. That said, this game has been designed so you can also play on your own.

    VIEW ON AMAZON | £29.02

    11. Osmo Coding Starter Set

    Osmo Coding Starter Set

    Credit: John Lewis

    Age suitability: 5+

    The Osmo Coding Starter Set relies on the Montessori mantra that children learn best when they play. Children play with physical items in the real world, while your iPad is slotting into a base unit that comes with a mirror so the iPad can effectively ‘see’ what’s happening on the table below. It’s all very clever. This means that when children move the physical code blocks on the table, they program the iPad to make certain movements.

    The blocks each have a unique command (for example walk, change direction, and jump) and these can be sequenced with other blocks and commands to make the iPad character, Awbie, do what they want it to.

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £99.99

    12. Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

    Star Wars Robot Kit

    Credit: Amazon

    Age Suitability: 8+

    Star Wars fans can now create their very own R2D2 with the Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit. Everything that you need is included (even the batteries!) and you can build your own droid, customising to your own spec, with the help of the accompanying app.

    Once built, there’s a world of possibilities – you can teach your droid to do head spins, record secret messages, draw pictures, navigate itself and even send it on 22 Star Wars missions. This kit is the perfect blend of instructive and innovative so that kids can take what they’ve learned to explore their own ideas.

    ‘Fantastic toy, excellent build and play value, it’s kept my son amused all day and off of his games consoles. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a creative technical toy,’ wrote one reviewer.

    VIEW ON AMAZON | £130.81