In response to concern over kids' interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), companies have been churning out cool toys that teach
In response to concern over kids’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), companies have been churning out cool toys that teach them coding and logic skills. The idea: get kids hooked on STEM early, and via their toys.
Since there are so many more STEM toys on the market these days, it can be difficult to figure out which ones will be the most worthwhile. Below, Working Mother’s picks for the best toys and games that teach the basics of coding. Your kid will be building her own robot in no time.
Jewelbots bring friendship bracelets into the 21st century; these pretty wearables can light up with LED lights when friends are detected nearby. Then, through the power of “if/then” statements, kids can program them through an app to do other things like light up or vibrate whenever they get a new like on Instagram. Using Arduino IDE, an easy, open-source electronics platform, wearers can come up with an endless number of programs.
LEGO Boost Robotics Creative Toolbox
Start of your kid’s collection of STEM toys with this electronic building block kit, which includes sensors, motors and 843 LEGO bricks. It equips kids to create five robotic friends: a moving and talking robot, a rover with a spring-loaded shooter and 3 other tool attachments, a guitar with pitch and sound effects, a moody cat that plays and purrs and an AutoBuilder that makes miniature LEGO models. Under the guidance of the accompanying Boost app, which contains all the directions and activities, kids will learn to code so that their robots perform specific actions. Best of all, kids can use the kit with the LEGO bricks they already own.
Elmoji, a colorful robot collaboration between WowWee and Sesame Workshop, uses the irresistible combination of Elmo and emojis to teach early coding skills to pre-readers. Using the free app, kids tap on emojis and other icons to program sequences of commands for the robot to follow (move forward, spin around, flash an emoji on the LCD screen). Switch to the various game modes to play music, solve mazes featuring other Sesame Street characters, drive the robot, and more.
Hasbro FurReal Makers Proto Max
If you’ve been putting off getting a pet, this build-and-play animatronic pooch might just scratch that itch. Literally. Kids determine their canine companion’s personality by programming more than ten activation points. Think: have Max chase his tail whenever his nose is pushed. With lights, motion, more than 400 sounds, and 100 eye animations, the combinations are virtually endless. App-based games add to the fun. Plus, we have to say it, your kids are gonna think he’s doggone cute. Ages 6+ ($120, out in fall 2017)
SmartGurlz Siggy Scooter with Doll
The self-balancing Siggy Scooter comes with one of four sassy, STEM-loving SmartGurlz dolls (Jen, shown here, is studying mechanical engineering, loves hot dogs, and likes to repair cars after school); other dolls are sold separately. Your real-life girl can read an e-book to learn more about the doll’s interests, then download the SmartGurlz app and use drag-and-drop programming to drive Siggy, solve coding-based missions, and play games.
Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set
Put kids’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to the test without a tablet or app—and teach basic coding in the process. First challenge: Choose one of 10 double-sided activity cards, then build the maze shown. Second challenge: Use the 30 double-sided coding cards to create a step-by-step path for Colby the mouse to follow through the maze. Enter that sequence into Colby and watch as he races to get to the cheese. Repeat.