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Ever since I first watched Terminator 2: Judgement Day as a child, I've been borderline obsessed with robot toys, and I definitely passed that obsession down to my children. Seeing as how we're probably only a short jaunt away on the timeline from our own Skynet, it seems like we should prepare our children to be able to take them down, or at least work with them.
OK, I'm kidding, mostly. In reality (now) robot toys are fun ways for kids to interact with various STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) fields from coding to building to design to math and science. Robotics are one of the broad fields of learning and toys for kids that incorporate multiple disciplines in one unit. They have improved so much over the past 10 years and are now available in many different styles, age ranges, and price points. From the super elaborate robots like Dog-E to the more basic robots from WonderWorkshop, and kits from Thames and Kosmos, there are robot toys to delight every kid. If you're looking for a gift for kids, robots are one of the most popular toys, so it's a great idea for any child.
All of the toys on this list have been tested by me and a group of children who are age-appropriate for the toys. All of them tested highly, with kids getting hours of use from them, and wanting more.
Interactive Robot Dog with Colorful LED Lights
This was my testers' favorite toy this whole year. It is an interactive app-controlled dog that has over 200 sounds, dozens of commands, and many fun features. It can play tug of war, it personalizes with color combinations that make the dog one in a million, and the kids' favorite feature, the tail spells out messages when it wags.
There are also coding games and challenges, so your child won't run out of ways to play.
Preschool STEM Learning Toy Code ‘n Learn Kinderbot Electronic Robot
A robot for preschoolers, the coding for this guy is about as simple as it gets. Your kid just pushes the buttons on the back of the head of the robot, directing it how to go. It's a great entry point to the idea of coding and robotics. The group of 4-year-old kids that played with this one especially loved all the ways that the robot could move and maneuver, really giving kids the feeling of control.
STEM 13-in-1 Education Solar Power Robots
Worried that your child may get bored with a robot toy? You don't have to be with this bot from Bottleboom. It's 13 different robots in one. With a little bit of time and some learned patience, children can change up this robot into a bunch of different styles all able to do slightly different tasks.
Dash Coding Robot
A significant step up from the Fisher Price, but still very easy to operate, Dash is a robot that is meant to be used with and without an app, with basic coding built in. Have it play games, chase things, teach it commands, and more. Kids learn sequencing, loops, algorithms, and even interactive command language, all in an easy, well-laid-out app.
PYXEL A Coder’s Best Friend
Pyxel teaches kids the basics of the coding languages Blockly and Python to maneuver the toy through games, have it make sounds and interact, and even have it move through chains of command through algorithmic design.
Our testers were enthralled with how fast they picked up basic coding language thanks to Pyxel, understanding that this was the first step they'd make on a more traditional coding platform.
Teach Tech Mech 5, Mechanical Coding Robot
This robot is different from the others on this list in a very cool way. Instead of coding the robot's movements through an app, it's a mechanical code, meaning that different pieces command the robot to do different movements by interacting with other pieces on the bot. It's really interesting and teaches kids how to think about motion in an analog way.
Kai: The Artificial Intelligence Robot
A very sophisticated robot experience, Kai is an app-powered robot that kids build for themselves. It's a doozy at 100 parts, but not terribly hard to assemble. Once Kai is put together, you use the app to give it movement through the camera of your phone or tablet and through simple commands.
Great for teens and tweens, Kai is one of the best robots of 2023, for sure.
Robots Toy for Kids
Almost a more remote-controlled vehicle than a robot, this model combines the ease of the Fisher Price, with the cooler movements of a bot like the Kai. It's easy to play with and really just introduces the concept of robots to the youngest learners looking for a little bit more animation for their pretend play.
Code+Control Dinosaur Robot REX Robotics & Engineering STEM Kit
This is a build-it-yourself, remote-control robot dinosaur from Thames and Kosmos. Kids go wild for this lightweight T-rex robot with its easy-to-follow diagrams, well-labeled pieces, and simple but sophisticated structure.
Our testers put it together in about half an hour and then had it moving and active not long after that. It was the biggest hit amongst the 10-12 year olds.
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