But our kids are growing up in a different world, and while we work hard to ensure their childhood stays as full of play and wonder as it can, we can't help but marvel at some of the amazing opportunities our kids have when it comes to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) products. The days of robots only being on the Jetsons or Wall~E are long gone, and now our littlest littles are letting their imaginations soar as they begin robotics play. This is why it's important that when we're looking for the best robotics kits for kids, we remember at the core, it's about building visual-spatial and fine motor skills, as well as helping strengthen logic, critical thinking and reasoning, problem-solving and innovation. No, we don't want our children to be slaves to technology, but there's lots of merit to them being the thinkers and tinkerers and creators of whatever their minds can imagine, and the best robotics kits for kids foster those skills.
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Why Look For The Best Robotics Kits For Kids?
Again, we are the first to tell you that kids need to get their fill of outside and simple playtime, as their cognitive functioning is certainly enhanced by grounding and good old-fashioned Vitamin D. Still, we also know the world in which they live is changing at lightning speed, and the opportunities for our little STEAMsters to innovate, create and build are ever-growing too. While we certainly don't advocate screen-time in massive amounts, we love robotics kits because they involve so many skills that build so many incredible neural connections in our kids. Even if some robotics kits require screens or devices, the best robotics kits for kids require them minimally, as the focus of the robotics kits are certainly geared toward taking little minds into worlds they only dream of-with their own two hands and their magnificent brains.
So, why look for the best robotics kits for kids? Well according to French mathematics and computer science teacher Gilles Lassus, the biggest reason boils down to play. Yes, play. You see, Lassus has also been part of PollenRobotics for several years, and says that when he enters his classroom with his PoppyErgoJr robot, he feels a bit like Santa Claus. Why? Because while there's never any sparkle in his students' eyes when he's spouting off math formulas, they light up like Christmas trees when it's time to work on robotics.
And Lassus says the key to learning is play. In fact, he contends (and we may agree) that it's only because we want to play that we want to learn. Would our children be any different? Of course not. He believes that our children's desire to learn and motivation for learning comes from their desire to play more...whether it's on a video game or outside as they're building a treehouse, when our children want to go further in their play, learning occurs.
He also recognizes that this is a coding world. Yes, though we don't have to let it run our lives (and we shouldn't) to not be code-aware moves us further and further from what happens all around us. Kids love to code; they love being in control of creating and watching something come from their brains to fruition right before their very eyes. Coding and coding skills allow them to do this, but that's where some of the best robotics kits really stand out.
Because robots and what we create using robotics kits are tangible, they're more appealing to our kids. When kids see the results of their brainpower and hand-eye coordination displayed in a robotic they built? They see tangible evidence that they are creators. Talk about instilling confidence and motivating.
And, talk about learning responsibility with control and power. Children who engage in robotics kits gain a level of independence in creation, and are only limited with what their brains can do. They are in control of their robot's actions. They learn to problem-solve and think critically about software and programming, and they know just how far they want to take their robotics skills. That lesson in moderation is quite valuable for many different learning scenarios.
What Are The Benefits Of Robotics Kits For Kids?
The thing about robotics kits is that the end result is not always some Terminator-type mini. Believe it or not, the science and technology that fuels everything from refrigerators to vacuum cleaners and tons of stuff in between is robotics. And, for children, robotics lessons are great lessons in so much more!
Science Skills Abound! The core of robotics kits is science-based. And, since studying science is basically studying everything that is, robotics kits build those skills. Robots are responsible for scientific exploration on a large scope (think Mars Rover) but on a smaller, more tangible way for kids too. Children can learn about everything from electricity to physics to coding and more with robotics kits. Robotics kits encourage the use of the scientific method in just about every aspect, and kids love the hands-on experimentation, trial and error and observation.
Math, Math and More Math! Often you'll have kids tell you they 'hate math,' but they LOVE robotics and STEAM projects. Ha...just proof that play is really the key to learning, as robotics and STEAM projects are based on mathematical concepts. Robotics kits can reinforce basic or advanced math concepts, depending on your child's age and developmental level, and with the best robotics kits, they can quite literally see the fruits of their math labor in a way they can feel and hold. More teachers are using robotics kits for math skill teaching, and kids don't even realize they're learning advanced concepts while they're playing.
Computer Programming Is Key. Even though we want to keep our children's childhood relatively free of screens and too much tech too quickly, the fact is they are surrounded by computers. Whether at the grocery store in self-checkout, or in front of your computerized washing machine, computers and what makes computers tic are unavoidable. And since they're such a large part of our daily lives, knowing what does make them tick (and how to do so ourselves!) is important. When it comes to many robotics kits, the programming part is key for understanding cause and effect. The best robotics kits for kids are ones that are simple in their approach and programming so children can see their brainpower happen in a real-world situation. Some robotics kits will grow with your children as they develop their skills, and that's wonderful for them because truly, the options for what they can do are limitless.
Little Engineers Are Created. When you think of an engineer, you may think of someone sitting behind something uber-techy and manipulating all sorts of buttons. You may not be far off, but...engineers are so much more than that. Engineering, at the core, is about building, and robotics kits help children learn a lot about engineering principles. They are able to learn how to design and create for form and function in a fascinating and appealing way, and you never know...you may be fostering the next electrical or mechanical engineering geniuses with the robotics kits you choose!
So what are the best robotics kits for kids? Check out our list and feel free to share your favorites as well!
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The Best Robotics Kits For Kids
Meccano Erector Introduction To Robotics Kit
Talk about an introduction to robotics! The wildly popular Meccano Erector line is a hit with engineering minds (of all ages) and this Introduction To Robotics Kit is a perfect start for children ages 10+. Some younger budding engineers may be able to work with it with a parent's or older sibling's help, but this is a real-deal robotics kit that will blow most kids' minds! All the parts of the robotics building kit come in a reusable container for keeping and include electronic components like an in infrared sensor, a high torque motor, a micro server, a BLE smart control and more. It also has a Maker Tool that young engineers can use to turn materials of their choosing (we especially love recyclables!) into parts for whatever they create. The kit has a screw gauge and hole punch that will let most recyclable goods become working parts.
The blueprints s are detailed and will let your young robot maker create 12 different set creations, or they can use them for inspiration to build new things over and over again. Part of the fun is creating, disassembling and then assembling something new. And, the Introduction to Robotics Set works with all Innovation sets, so there are really tons of building possibilities!
Electric Motors Catalyst by Tinkering Labs
The Electric Motors Catalyst Robotics Stem Kit by Tinkering Labs is the perfect kit for kids between the ages of 6-8+. It allows them to build electric motor cars, doodling robots and more. They can use Legos or similar bricks in the building design and it's a box full of imagination waiting to be unleashed. It was designed to inspire tinkerers to tinker, and to have a child's mind and hands work together. Tinkering Labs inspires project-based learning and accomplishment with fun STEM challenges, and you can even make it a family affair with all the cool stuff inside the box. It allows for open-ended play with real working motors, wires and battery packs, as well as simple circuitry and tools. The challenge cards are inspirational and we love that kids are then able to upload their inventions and win contests in Tinkering Labs' super-cool community.
Botzees Robotic Building And Coding Kit
Botzees is a fun robotics kit for kids 4-7 years-old. It has blocks that are easy-to-grip and familiar-looking, and the 130 blocks can be made to do just about whatever your child's imagination can make happen. Kids can build and code six different predesigned Botzees or they can create their own as their confidence grows. And, the Botzees Robotics kit is super cool in that it also has interactive augmented reality puzzles to help teach foundational coding concepts. Kids will learn about looping, sequencing and conditional coding in a visual way that's intuitive for them.
Artie 3000 Coding Robot
Artie 3000 is an award-winning robot that's already built, but your little one's imagination and creativity are what drive him to draw. It's a drag and drop program that children as young as seven can use (maybe even younger, depending on the child) to create. Children will use both sides of their brains as they're programming and utilizing math and geometry skills and also creating colorful designs. Your little ones' brains will be behind the artwork Artie creates, and we're pretty sure they're going to be masterpieces!
Kids love this little Bot--because it's super-user friendly and gives so many different options. We especially love that there is a screen-free option with Color Code markers--so possibilities are limited only to your child's imagination. And, the Color Code makers also help strengthen fine motor skills and stronger neural connections as it engages their hand-eye coordination and motor planning at the same time. The screen option-OzoBlockly programming-gives all sorts of advanced options as well to let your OzoBot show all sorts of tricks off. Kids love it for playing games and watching their vision come to action instantly! OzoBot also offers lots of different opportunities for activities, and you can search for just what you want in their extensive library! Just enter your child's specifics and watch the fun appear!
Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set
Botley is a coding robot kit that's designed for kids five and older. They start young with basic features and activities, and Botley is ready to go out of the box--screen-free!! Botley's skills grow as your child's skills grow and he can even be programmed to detect objects and to follow basic if/then logic and looping. He's an award-winning robot who will have your child engaged and creating from the get-go!
Kibo Screen-Free Robotics Kit
Another fabulous screen-free robotics kit, Kibo is built on Montessori-type principles and lets kids bring their creativity to life with STEAM activities. They won't even know that it is learning, as they're going through the engineering design process and KIBO will easily become a friend they keep around for years. It's designed based on 20 years of research by Professor Marina Bers from Tufts University. Bers is a leading early childhood development researcher, so you'll be sneaky in their learning with KIBO. Completely screen-free coding that they won't want to put down!
Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kit & Boost Creative Toolbox
Say hello to the mega robotics kit that kids clamor over from the first time they see it! Lego's Mindstorms Robotics Kit is for your more advanced robotics engineers, and it is no joke when it comes to what it can do! Your tweens and teens (and adults, who are we kidding?) will love building and coding this baby to talk, walk, complete tasks and play games. It is built with 601 pieces, including the EV3 Brick. It also comes with three servo motors as well as color touch and IR sensors. You can connect with a smart device and do even more with the EV3 programmer app and it has 17 different robotic designs to choose from. Of course, robotics engineers can create on their own, and Mindstorms is compatible with all Lego construction sets for additional creativity.
And, if Mindstorms is a bit on the older side for your kiddos, don't despair because there is still plenty of Lego Robotics Fun they can have with the Boost Creative Toolbox.
The Boost Creative Toolbox is a great introductory kit for robotics and coding with an 847-piece Lego kit kids can use to create five multifunctional robot models. It includes cool engineering pieces like distance and tilt sensors as well as is compatible with other Lego sets to control their own original robotic creations, though they'll have a blast with Frankie the Cat or Vernie the Robot if they choose to use the construction and coding instructions.
Avengers Hero Inventor Kit
Little Bits is known for all sorts of electronic kit action and this Inventor Kit is no exception to their fabulous line of products. If you have little Avengers, this kit includes everything they'll need to design, build and customize their own electronic Superhero. It has electronic building blocks, an LED Matrix, stickers and authentic Marvel sound effects bit that make you swear the Avengers are right there. It has over 18 activities for your children to build, play and code within the kit, and there's even an in-app video with step-by-step instructions so building can be done independently (although it's always awesome to join in the little engineer's fun!). Your kids' imagination is the only thing that limits their personalizing this hero, and they'll be able to engage in fun missions like speed tracking, animator creator, Super Hero voice and stealth mode (who doesn't love stealth mode?). Little Bits is known for well-made pieces that hold up to the toughest things kids can throw at them, and since Little Bits and Sphero (another awesome electronics and coding company!) merged, there's tons of great customer service and brilliance to help if needed!
MakeBlock's Mbot Starter Robot Kit
Don't be fooled by this adorable little guy; he's quite a robot but perfect for little engineers just getting started in robotics. The instructions from MakeBlock are super easy to follow and he can be built quickly for satisfied builders. Your kids can follow the guide, or do it themselves with their imaginations guiding the way, and it's a super popular entry-level coding platform--the mBlock Blockly App-designed for creative and logical thinking new coders. You can upgrade and let this guy grow with your kiddos by buying add-on packages and other forms of mBot, and your kids will love their new friend (that they can control!).
Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock
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