Best STEM Toys That Teach Kids How to Code
If you thought your kids were too young to begin to learn how to code, think again. Coding skills are easily adapted for even the youngest learners, and educators have been integrating coding education into STEM toys more and more over the last decade.
STEM toys can be used by teachers and parents to help foster familiarity and interest in the science, technology, education, and technology space. There are great toys available for every age to satisfy curiosities and advance knowledge and learning of computer science, software engineering, and web design.
What Are STEM Toys?
Many modern STEM toys integrate with the technology surrounding us, making it easier than ever to immerse students in the wonders of coding and software engineering. Whether your child is a three year-old or in high school, there are a number of board games, activities, and challenges available to make learning fun, from hands-on robotics engineering to conceptual video game development and animations.
If you think coding might be too hard for your child to learn, keep in mind that the best coding toys introduce skills to early learners in a digestible, easy-to-understand way. Foundational education that they’ve already experienced through tablets, apps, and computers has also primed them for coding. Toys shouldn’t be alienating, and the best ones will excite your child as much as generate interest in the world of coding.
If you’re not sure whether or not your child will enjoy coding toys, keep in mind that there are lots of options to suit different interests and skill levels. Your child might enjoy toys that offer coding concepts if they:
- Are interested in technology, whether through computers, tablets, or gaming systems
- Enjoy challenging educational games, like puzzles, critical thinking, or problem-solving activities
- Can follow detailed instructions, such as the guides that accompany building toys such as LEGO
- Gravitate to creative outlets like art classes and cooking classes
What Are the Best STEM Toys for Beginners?
If you’re shopping for STEM toys that will suit beginners, consider what toys and themes your child already likes. There are coding toys themed for everything from Frozen to Star Wars. Consider the below recommendations, taking into account the age range recommended for each coding game:
Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
Think of this as “Baby’s First STEM Experience.” The hands-on, colorful robotic systems make it easy for kids ages 3-6 to get an understanding of basic sequences of commands, just like any beginner would learn in a coding class. These screen-free toys educate with math concepts, colors, letters, and more.
Other similar toys in this category include the Fisher Price Kinderbot and the Montessori-favored toy, Cubetto.
Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set
Students ages 5-8 can take on more challenging robotics exercises using toys that provide an enriching experience without the use of screens. Code & Go Robot Mouse is a great example, demonstrating to kids how they can build mazes and develop conditional programming sequences to challenge the robot on a desired path.
Another option, Botley the Coding Robot kit also requires no screen time and includes built-in light sensors.
If you’re looking for an Amazon Fire option for this age range, consider the Osmo Coding starter kit.
Kano Computer Kit
Kids aged 6-14 will learn to build their own Raspberry Pi computer using this kit designed with specifically-educational features, transparent packaging, color coded cords, a simplified keyboard, and an easy-to-follow construction guide. Once the coding kit is built, the computer can connect using HDMI to a computer monitor or TV so kids can pursue coding projects, build animations, edit pictures, or record musical masterpieces.
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
For the kid who already likes LEGO, the toolbox comes with bricks, a central-processing unit, and sensors to build five different little robots. Robots are programmed from an iOS or Android app, and are even Bluetooth-compatible, making it possible for multiple robots to interact with one another. Another perk: you can even incorporate all other LEGO building blocks in your kid’s collection to let their creativity wander.
Level up with the LEGO Mindstorm Kit, which is similar, but offers a more complex experience for young programmers.
Paired with an easy-to-use mobile app, this innovative toy uses coding blocks easy enough for a budding coder, and adaptable enough to push kids with more experience to learn more about the basics of coding. Within the Sony community, kids can also share their creations with others. It may be one of the most expensive coding toys on the market, but it offers young learners unlimited opportunities to build their own creations.
Sphero Sprk may also entertain kids who love to code.
Minecraft or Robot Wars
Even the most beginner coder can gradually get an understanding of coding in the immersive, interactive worlds of Minecraft and Robot Wars. Experienced coders can continue to learn advanced skills, too. At theCoderSchool, students can even take classes to learn more about how to leverage coding for a customized gaming experience!
Find Kids Coding Classes Near You
Foster STEM skills by introducing toys that promote easy coding for beginners, and raise a curious, creative kid who will have lots of fun in any technology-rich environment.
theCoderSchool provides group classes and private coaching for beginners that make it easy for school-aged kids of all skill levels to explore the magic of computer science and programming. Courses like these not only introduce kids to computers and technology, but they reinforce problem-solving skills and give them the base knowledge they need to continue to learn about coding.
With locations across the United States and flexible courses, including virtual learning and in-person classes, we strive to provide new challenges and opportunities for the next-gen to take their curiosities with technology to the next level.
Find camps and classes near you and get in touch with the educators at theCoderSchool today if you have any questions.