BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
 
Menu
Blog
Beyond reviews, our team aims to provide you with useful, compelling, and fun how-to guides, gift ideas, and deep dives into trendy products consumers like you love. Here are our latest articles.
August 6, 2022  |  Toys & Games

6 fun coding robots to introduce your kids to programming

Sometimes all it takes to make kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math is the right toy.

Coding robots encourage creative problem solving, introduce young people to STEM and let them build confidence. From cute, basic models to more advanced ones that teach teens the foundations of computer programming, there are coding robots designed for kids of all ages.

What is a coding robot?

Coding robots are toys that make math and engineering fundamentals easy to understand. They are designed to teach young people how to develop programs and see how electronic systems function. By writing instructions for their robots, kids can make their robots perform operations of their choosing. Kids can do this either via an app or by using dials and switches on the toy itself. 

Educational benefits of coding robots

With automation and robotics coming into the mainstream, it’s more important than ever for young people to be familiar with emerging technology. Getting kids acquainted with coding skills prepares them for the jobs of the future. 

Some coding robots require assembly. This gives kids experience with the mechanical aspects of engineering as well.

What to consider before you buy a coding robot

Your child’s age

Selecting a coding robot that is appropriate for the age of your child will pique their interest and prevent frustration. Robots for young kids have simplistic controls and often have a cartoonish appearance. Options for older kids and teens require a more advanced understanding to use and operate but also offer more exciting programming opportunities. 

Features

Coding robots can be basic or nearly limitless in the ways you can control them. If your child is young or just getting into coding, opt for a robot that won’t overwhelm them to the point that they lose interest.

However, if your child is especially patient or shows an aptitude for critical thinking and mathematics, a coding robot with more features will grow with its understanding and continually open up new programming possibilities.

Apps

Some coding robots require an app to use them. Others rely on mechanical switches, remotes or controllers. 

Giving your child the opportunity to build without using a phone or tablet provides them with a refreshingly tactile way to play and learn. However, app connectivity is a part of modern life, so don’t disregard the value of teaching your child how digital coding can create a physical response.

Your budget

Coding robots can cost anywhere from $40-$500. While expensive robots have more customizable controls and features, even low-cost ones offer unique educational experiences.

Best coding robots

Top coding robots for older kids and teens

Makeblock mBot Ultimate Coding Robot

Makeblock mBot Ultimate Coding Robot

What you need to know: Great for kids and adults alike, this robot is loaded with complex features.

What you’ll love: From tanks to robotic arms and catapults, this toy’s 160 metal components and modules can be assembled in 10 different ways. It features a MegaPi mainboard for advanced programming via an app.

What you should consider: This robot is advanced and includes too many pieces for younger children.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sphero Bolt

Sphero Bolt

What you need to know: This app-enabled coding robot features programmable sensors and an LED matrix display.

What you’ll love: This robot is small in size but big in programming possibilities. Kids can customize its display, play games and even interact with other Bolt robots. Programs are created using one of three coding languages, including JavaScript.

What you should consider: Some buyers feel that Sphero’s plain design lacks the personality of other coding robots.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Wonder Workshop Dash

Wonder Workshop Dash

What you need to know: Popular in STEM classrooms, this quirky robot responds to voice commands.

What you’ll love: Dash connects to a series of apps that let kids explore programming its movement, lights and sounds. It includes building block connectors that let kids customize their robot with Lego.

What you should consider: Some buyers feel that the play possibilities this robot offers are too limited.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Teach Tech Mech 5

Teach Tech Mech 5

What you need to know: This robot operates without an app, thanks to its mechanical coding wheel and buttons.

What you’ll love: Teach kids engineering basics by snapping together this robot’s circuit boards. No tools are needed, and this kit can be combined with others to create more extensive projects.

What you should consider: Buyers express some frustration with the assembly process and instructions included with this robot.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Top coding robots for young kids

Sphero Mini

Sphero Mini

What you need to know: Sphero Mini is easy to set up and offers a great way to explore coding on a budget.

What you’ll love: Using the Sphero app, kids can drive their tiny robot ball, play games with it and write code. It’s available in nine bright colors.

What you should consider: This robot is easy to lose because of its small size. Its shell is made out of thin, fragile plastic.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Artie 3000

Artie 3000

What you need to know: Artie draws shapes and lines based on code provided by your child.

What you’ll love: This robot connects to a computer or tablet and lets kids design art that the robot then draws. Artie is great for kids who are creative and also enjoy math and problem-solving.

What you should consider: Some buyers find Artie’s operation to be too complicated for very young kids.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.