Mum influencer Alison Perry on why a Sphero is THE toy to buy this Christmas 

Image of child holding a tablet with the word play on it above a Sphero ball

Author and blue-tick-verified instagram influencer, Alison Perry is first time user of Sphero, loves a cuppa and is mum-of-three with over 32,000 followers.

Alison has nine-year old and toddler twins - all girls. And with an instagram following on iamalisonperry of over 32k following her she is frequently sharing what works for her and her family. Here she shares with us THE top Christmas toy she thinks is winner.

"I'm a mum to three girls. A nine-year old and twin toddlers, and STEM and coding-specific toys - like the Sphero - are such an important addition to our toy box.

I was at a free robots activity session in the Apple Store when we first came across the Sphero. After an hour of playing with the programmable robot ball, she went straight home and started her Christmas list, of which only the top Christmas toys make it on to.

And the Sphero Bolt was at the top. It was only August. Which just goes to show the impact that playing with the Sphero had on her.

She only had to wait a month before her uncle bought it for her birthday. But at £149.99 it’s a big spend on something which could be seen as just a toy, so is it worth the cash and what exactly is it?

What is a Sphero - and what does it do?

In a nutshell, the Sphero Bolt is a robot ball, it teaches children coding. It's designed to spark curiosity, creativity and inspire inventing. It's controlled by either the Sphero Edu or Sphero Play apps direct from your smart phone or tablet. There are lots of features that you can create and control from your phone or tablet using one of the Sphero apps. Want to know more? Jump down to our deal.

The activities that can be had with the Sphero bolts are limitless. You can join the community and try out their programs or race against one another, create a maze and then find your way ou.

And, because of the varied lighting within the Bolt you could even programme a disco!

The Sphero Fun app, which has different drive modes so you can make your robot move by doing things like tilting the phone/tablet and flicking the screen. It also has some games that you can play using your Sphero.

Another app to download is the Sphero Edu app takes things to the next level, so that your child can learn basic coding skills to control their robot.

Split screen image of a teenager on the left holding a tablet and a close up of the Sphero ball on the right with a backdrop of spotty rug

Credit: Alison Perry

Beginners can give their robot commands by drawing a path in the app for their Sphero to follow.

Intermediate coders can move around ‘blocks’ of code to build programmes using more advanced logic.

Pros can use text programming to write their own JavaScript. It’s not just about moving your robot around though. You can also control the lights, change the colour and control the sound too.

Image of a teenager pointing out a Sphero ball to a crawling toddler on a spotty rug

Credit@ Alison Perry

The Sphero Bolt is straight forward to set up - so minimal bickering over it come Christmas morning. And controlling the robot using the apps is really intuitive. Kids (and us grown ups) can get their heads around it quickly meaning there’s not much chance for them to struggle, feel frustrated or give up.

With a two hour play time it's just as well it's very robust. And, even though it has advanced sensors that keep tabs on its speed and direction ours has been accidentally programmed to drop off a table a number of times! Plus, it's waterproof so you don’t have to worry too much about your kids messing about with it.

We hear so much these days about the amount of screen time kids get and the negative effect that has. But if your child is playing with a Sphero Bolt, this is one time that you can feel really good about screen time.

As a parent, seeing my daughter spend hours playing, knowing she is developing important STEM coding skills, is a win/win situation because it’s as educational as it is fun.

Sphero Bolt

Image of a Sphero bolt finding its way around a maze taped on the floor

Credit: Sphero

Age suitability: 8 years+ | Batteries required: Yes, included | Price: £149.99

It has over 880 reviews on Amazon and a 4.6 out of 5 stars. And is recommended to help kick start a kid's love of coding, a way of future proofing their skill-set. This can code three different ways is water proof and has a bluetooth smart connection. Amaze your kids with this gift for Christmas.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £149.99

Best Coding buys for kids

If the Sphero's not for you then below are few other coding toys that could be a softer approach to learning how to code.

Learning Resources Artie 3000™ – £74 £49.99 (SAVE £24.01) | Amazon If the Sphero's not your thing, try this! It's the creative and engaging way for kids to learn coding. Requires 4 AA batteries, comes with four washable markers a quick start guide and activity sheets. It has built in wi-fi and is ideal for beginners looking to dip their toe into the future.
Clementoni Science Museum - Mecha Dragon Robot – £39.99 £32.99 (SAVE £7) | Very An impressive kit to make a magical Mechanical Dragon that uses its 3 motors and multiple sensors to interact with the child and the surrounding environment for endless adventures! The Dragon can be controlled using an app that communicates with high frequency signals or through the 4 infrared sensors.
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit For iPad – £79.99 £55.99 (SAVE £24) | WH Smith Fun-filled & award winning learning games that interact with actual hand held pieces & an iPad, bringing a preschool child's game pieces & actions to life (No WiFi necessary for game play).
LEGO 71360 Super Mario Adventures Starter Course Set– £49.99 £30 (SAVE £24) | Amazon For ages 6+, this LEGO Mario toy has a colour sensor and LCD screen to display the instant reactions to movement and action bricks alongside his path. This set was also one of the Black Friday LEGO deals for 2021.
Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.