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children playing with Robots for kids

Robots for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Educational STEM Toys [2024]

We at Qubs are excited to provide you with an in-depth look at the world of robots for kids. As experts in educational STEM toys, we have seen first-hand how robots can ignite a child's imagination and set them on a path to becoming future innovators. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about robots for kids - from understanding what they are to why they are important for development, what to look for when buying them, and reviewing some of the best options on the market today.

With interactive robot toys becoming more advanced each year, there has never been a better time to introduce them to your kids. We hope this article provides valuable insights from our experience that helps you make an informed decision when choosing a robot for the young learner in your life. So let's dive in!

Boy playing with robots for kids placing Cody City Blocks

What are robots for kids

Robots for kids are toys and tools designed to introduce children to robotics, coding, engineering, and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles through hands-on play. They come in many different forms, but most involve some level of programming, building, creativity, and imagination.

Here are some of the most common types of robots and robotic toys for children:

Programmable/coding robots

These robots can be programmed to move, light up, make sounds, and more. Popular options include:

Cody Block gif programmable robots for kids

 

Cody Block

A wooden toy car that moves based on blocks placed on the floor.

boy and girl playing with Cody Block robots for kids

 

Sphero

App-controlled spherical robots that roll and glow

a rolling robots for kids

Ozobot

Follows drawn lines and color codes

rolling programmable robots for kids

 

Cue

Block-based coding robot that draws and plays music

rolling robots for kids

Programming robots teaches critical thinking, sequencing, and problem-solving.

Building robots/robotic kits

Kits contain parts for constructing a robot. Building teaches STEM skills:

 

Lego Mindstorms

Build programmable robots out of Lego

lego robots for kids

 

KiwiCo Crates

Monthly robot kits, like Mouse Bot that kids assemble

kiwi robots for kids

 

Makeblock

Modular components to create moving robots

moving robots for kids

 

LittleBits

Magnetic electronic modules that snap together

Buildable robots for kids

Robots for kids cover a wide range of STEM-based toys that encourage building, coding, problem-solving, and imagination in unique hands-on ways. We've found they provide endless educational play opportunities.

Why are robots for kids important?

Incorporating robotics into a child's early education provides a wealth of benefits that positively impact their development. Here are some of the key reasons robots for kids are so valuable:

Robots for kids teaching creativity

Ignite Imagination and Creativity

Building and programming robots is an extremely creative process that enables kids to bring their ideas to life. They imagine what their robot can do, design programs to control it, test and modify it, and push the limits of what's possible. This opens up new worlds of innovation. Kids gain confidence realizing they can create something that moves, lights up, makes noise, and completes tasks.

Teach Coding and Engineering Skills

As our world becomes increasingly digital, learning coding fundamentals at a young age is extremely advantageous. Kids have the chance to write programs and see first-hand how their instructions control a robot's actions. Concepts like algorithms, loops, conditionals, debugging, sensors, and mechanics provide important STEM knowledge.

Develop Problem-Solving Abilities

Robots encourage critical thinking, spatial reasoning, trial-and-error, and persistence. As kids build, test, and modify robots through hands-on learning, they quickly gain problem-solving abilities. Even simple tasks like navigating a robot through a maze require strategizing.

Grow Collaboration and Communication Skills

STEM learning is very social, and robotics kits provide the perfect opportunity for peer collaboration. Children can work together to construct, code, or operate robots, learning to share ideas and communicate effectively to reach a common goal.

Make STEM Subjects Fun and Engaging

It's no secret that STEM subjects can be intimidating. But robots present these concepts through play, exploration, and discovery in ways that feel exhilarating rather than intimidating. Kids are motivated to engage with engineering principles because robots are cool and fascinating. This builds confidence in STEM at an early age.

Prepare Kids for the Future

Jobs in science, engineering, and technology are growing rapidly. Experts predict over 1 million new STEM jobs will be created in the next decade alone. Starting kids off with robotics provides a strong foundation in these fields so they can become the innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow.

From imagination to coding skills, critical thinking to communication, introducing children to robots opens up a world of interactive learning opportunities that benefit development on so many levels. The educational value is truly incredible!

Why are robots for kids important for parents?

parent teaching robots for kids

As a parent, you may be wondering about the value of STEM robot toys. How can they benefit your child, and are they worth investing in? We are parents ourselves, so we completely understand these questions. From our experience, we have seen first-hand how robots positively impact children - making them invaluable for parents looking to aid their development.

Here are some of the key reasons:

Help Develop Motor Skills

Assembling and operating robots involves fine motor dexterity. Piecing together small components improves hand-eye coordination. Controlling a robot's movements refines gross motor skills. These boost overall coordination.

Provide a Creative Outlet

Robots enable kids to have fun building, programming, and playing imaginatively. This hands-on tinkering stimulates ingenuity and gives them a constructive way to express creativity.

Teach Real-World Skills

While fun for kids, robots teach practical abilities like problem-solving, critical thinking, coding, and troubleshooting - skills that have applications well beyond the toy room.

Introduce STEM Concepts

Robotics provides the perfect gateway to get kids engaged in engineering principles, computer science, math, and other crucial STEM topics through discovery and play.

Keep Kids Engaged

It's no secret it can be challenging keeping children stimulated and off screens. Robots capture kids' curiosity and provide interactive educational playtime. The learning feels more like entertainment.

Help Discover Interests/Talents

Kids may find they have an innate talent or passion when introduced to robotics at a young age. Nurturing this can put them on a path to promising future careers.

Provide Family Bonding Time

Assembling, coding, and playing with robots are great opportunities for shared family experiences. Collaborating builds lasting memories.

What to Consider when buying robots for kids

parents selecting the right robots for kids

When you decide to purchase robots for kids, there are a few key factors to consider for selecting the best option. 

Age Range

Robot toys are available across a wide spectrum of ages, from toddlers to teens. Consider your child's maturity and dexterity. Kids 5 and under often benefit most from preschool robots - simple interactive bots focused on movement that develops fine motor skills. Around 6-9 is prime for introducing building kits and basic programming. By 12, some kids are ready for advanced robotics like artificial intelligence bots.

Cody Block, due to how the different blocks work and the open-endedness of the play, are loved by kids from 3 to twelve. 

Skills Targeted

Determine the abilities you most want to nurture, like construction skills, coding, problem-solving, imagination, etc. Then select a robot that delivers the desired benefits. Kids with an aptitude for building may enjoy assembling their own robots from kits while those drawn to technology can be motivated by programming challenges.

This also depends on the child's age. When 3 year olds play with Cody Block they learn gross motor skills, cause and effect, colour and shape recognition, and spatial awareness, which is crucial for their development at that age.

With the different pieces included in the set, a 10 year old playing with Cody learns about coding concepts, strategic problem-solving, and design thinking. This ensures that Cody has as much longevity in the skill development as it does in its durability.

Types of Play Encouraged

There are so many ways to play and learn with robots. Does your child prefer independent play or engagement with others? Creative play or structured activities? Select robots that match their interests and personality. For example, topping our list are Osmo Coding Robots - perfect for independent gamified learning.

Screen Time

A major benefit of robotics is getting kids off screens and interacting with tangible tools. Look for options with little to no screen time. Play that mimics real-world activities will keep them focused and engaged in learning. We love options like LEGO BOOST that have companion apps for programming but allow screen-free playtime.

Budget

Robot kits can range from $30 up to $500. Assess how significant an investment you want to make for your child's first robot and what the goal is, depending on their age. Beginners do fine with more budget-friendly options under $100.

Quality and Durability

Make sure the robot is well-constructed from durable materials so it will hold up well to play. Plastic pieces should be thick and sturdy. Look for brand names like LEGO, Qubs, or Makeblock, with proven reputations.

Power Options

Many robots use batteries while some are USB rechargeable. This can impact both how long they will last and how easy they are to use. One of the reasons we made Cody rechargeable is to make sure it can last for years, and to avoid impromptu night trips to the store because the batteries ran out in the middle of playtime.

Cody Block rechargeable robots for kids

Compatibility

If the robot kit or components are meant to work together with other toys like LEGO, make sure it's clearly compatible. This allows mixing and matching for more creative possibilities.

Also look at whether the robot can fit with other toys. 

For example, with Cody Block, kids love to use their other toys to build a city or terrain for Cody to drive through, or even have their other toys "drive" Cody.

Cody Block and toys robots for kids

Kid Appeal

Of course, the robot has to speak to your child's interests to truly engage them. Find options matching their hobbies - like space, animals, or vehicles. Cool or cute designs they're drawn to makes learning more fun!

By keeping these factors in mind, you're sure to select an awesome robot toy that will ignite your kid's passion for STEM learning through play!

What are the best robots for kids?

With the sheer variety of robot toys available, deciding which is the right one can certainly be a challenge! We've tested and played with tons, and are ready to share our picks for the best robots for kids in several categories:

Best Robots for kids

As developers of STEM toys for young learners, we know the preschool years are an optimal time to introduce foundational science and tech concepts.

  • Larger parts to minimize choking hazards
  • Simple interfaces for ease of use
  • Bright colors and playful designs to hold short attention spans
  • Encouragement of fine motor skills

We suggest looking for robot toys that align with your child’s interests.
Here are 5 excellent robot toys for preschoolers:

  1. Cody Block: A hands-on, screen-free coding toy that lets preschoolers control a wooden robot by arranging physical code blocks, making learning to code intuitive and fun.
  2. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar: Encourages experimentation while developing skills like problem-solving and sequencing, as kids connect segments to make the caterpillar go.
  3. VTech Switch & Go Dinos: These transformable toys switch from dinosaur to vehicle and back, enhancing imaginative play and motor skills.
  4. Little Tikes Tobi Robot Smartwatch: Combines a kid-friendly smartwatch with a playful robot character, offering interactive learning games and activities.
  5. Mibro Really RAD Robots: An interactive robot that kids can control to speak, spy, and play games, fostering creativity and interactive play.

How to explain robots for kids?

With how fast robotics are developing today, having a discussion with your kids around what robots can be helpful. So we've included a couple of age-appropriate ways to explain what a robot is.

Robots for Preschool Kids

Imagine you have a toy that can move all by itself, like walking, rolling, or even dancing! That's what a robot is. It's a special kind of toy, but it's also a bit like a helper, because it can do things that we tell it to. We give it instructions, and it listens to us. Some robots look like people or animals, and others look like cars or little machines. They can do cool stuff like pick up things, make sounds, and light up. Robots are like magical friends that can help us and play with us!

Robots for Kids in Elementary School

Robots are smart machines that can do tasks on their own. They work by following instructions that we give them through a computer, a remote control, or even through blocks or voice. Think of them like a video game character, but in real life! Some robots are used in factories to build things or in homes to help clean. Others are made just for fun and can do things like dance, solve puzzles, or even play games with us. Robots have sensors that let them see, hear, or feel things around them, and they use this information to decide what to do next. They're pretty cool because they help us learn about technology and how things work!

Ideas for playing with robots for kids

Boy and girl playing with robots for kids

A key benefit of robot toys is that they get kids learning through interactive play. Based on our experience, here are fun and educational offline activities to try with robot toys:

  • Create obstacle courses for your robot to navigate
  • Have robot dance competitions and talent shows
  • Use robots for reenacting stories or historic events
  • Program robots to draw pictures or write names
  • Customize your bot with craft materials
  • Make up robot-themed games and adventures
  • Have your robot respond to voice commands

The possibilities are endless when imagination and technology meet! Encourage your kids to innovate new ways to play with their high-tech toys.

Getting started with robots for kids

Getting started with robot toys can be an exhilarating journey for both you and your kids. It's a path filled with discovery, learning, and plenty of fun. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Start Simple: Begin your robotic adventure with basic, easy-to-understand robots. This allows your kids to grasp the fundamental concepts without feeling overwhelmed. As they grow more comfortable and skilled, you can gradually introduce more complex programmable robots.

Safety First: Always supervise your young ones during playtime, especially with robots that have small parts. This not only prevents the risk of swallowing tiny pieces but also ensures the toys are used correctly and safely.

Child-Led Play: Let your kids set the pace of play. Avoid over-structuring the activities and give them the freedom to explore and interact with the robots in their way. This fosters creativity and independent thinking.

Encourage Problem-Solving: Pose open-ended questions like, “What do you think will happen if we do this?” or “How can we make the robot move faster?” Such queries stimulate critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Connect to Daily Life: Make the experience more relatable by linking robot functions to everyday experiences. For instance, compare a robot sorting colors to sorting laundry - this helps children understand abstract concepts more concretely.

Social and Interactive Learning: Encourage playing with robots alongside siblings, friends, or even as a family activity. This not only makes learning more fun but also improves social and communication skills.

Integrate Educational Themes: Connect robot activities to topics they are learning in school. For example, if they are learning about animals, use a robot animal to reinforce the topic. This enhances their learning experience and makes education more dynamic.

Foster Curiosity and Fun: Remember, the primary goal is to have fun and ignite curiosity. Robot toys are a wonderful tool to make STEM learning hands-on and exciting.

By following these tips, you’re setting the stage for a rewarding and educational experience with robot toys. Let the bot adventures begin, and watch as your kids embark on a journey of discovery, creativity, and a deeper love for learning!

Boy happily playing with robots for kids

Summary

The realm of robots for kids opens up a world of endless possibilities, blending fun with educational value. These toys are not just playthings; they are gateways to understanding STEM concepts, sparking creativity, honing problem-solving skills, and preparing children for a tech-savvy future. Whether your child is a preschooler taking their first steps in STEM or an older kid ready to delve into more complex robotics, there is a robot toy out there to suit their needs and interests. Remember, the key is to choose a robot that aligns with your child's age, interests, and the skills you want to nurture. From fostering teamwork and communication to developing coding and engineering skills, robots for kids offer a hands-on, engaging way to learn. So, let's embrace these incredible tools and watch our children grow into the innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow!