When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.
- Technology is now deeply involved in every age of life, so luckily toy makers have wisened up to provide tech toys that promote learning as well as knowledge and skills building.
- Tech toys offer up lots of fun and excitement, but more importantly they promote interest in and the development of life skills that will likely be essential in kids' adult lives, particularly logic, coding, and critical thinking.
- Even tech toys for kids that don't involve any screens — yes, they do exist — help develop kids' aptitude for these life skills and knowledge bases.
- Still hunting for holiday gifts? Read all our 2020 Holiday Gift Guides on Insider Picks.
Countless neuroscientists and development psychologists agree that play is essential to learning, and it's something we should encourage in our kids. Toys should obviously amuse and engage kids as pleasant pastimes, and learning is going to happen through playing with toys regardless. However, when it comes to tech toys specifically, that essential STEM-related knowledge and skill building are part of the fun.
Technology has made its way into toys for kids of all ages — even as young as newborn and infant stages. Tech toys start with the basics, introducing elementary coding skills without any screens, focused on the core concepts. From there, more advanced options arise for older kids in the single digits that allow them to build robots, followed by options that allow kids to build their own computers and get at the insides of machines and software.
What all the best tech toys for kids accomplish is that they inspire both fun and learning in equal measure. With that, here are our favorite tech toys for kids of 2019.
Teach kids to BYOR, or Build Your Own Robot
UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots
These multi-award-winning robots involve skills ranging from fine motor to critical thinking. First, a young maker must physically build the robot for which they will soon be writing code.
Then, with a paired app on a tablet or smartphone, they budding STEM enthusiast can use Blockly coding to execute dozens of preprogrammed maneuvers and can even create brand new custom actions using a PRP (pose, record, play) function.
A digital drawing pad for budding artists
VTech Write & Learn Creative Center
There's long been a campaign to bring the word "art" into the STEM acronym to make it "STEAM", and toys like the VTech Write & Learn Creative Center make a strong case for that.
The arts are just as important to encourage in childhood development, and this drawing and writing pad gives kids from 2- to- 7- years-old lots of freedom to learn how they choose and at their pace.
Teach a kid the magic of magnetism
4M KidzLabs Anti Gravity Maglev Science Kit
This affordable and enjoyable kit packs an impressive number of activities. From creating a floating pencil to a perpetual pendulum to a kinetic sculpture, the experiments and projects will help teach children about magnets and motion. And, thanks to a detailed instruction book, most kids will be able to complete most projects without adult assistance.
An R2D2 droid that kids can build from scratch
littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
The main Skywalker Saga may be over, but Star Wars fever remains as hot as ever among the younglings. Mega fans will know that both Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke have dug deep into R2D2's robo guts for repairs, and now kids can live that fantasy albeit on a much smaller scale.
This robot building kit comes with a paired app download that instructs kids on how to build the R2D2 droid and then provides a bunch of coding tasks and interactive games involving their finished robotic buddy. The droid can even navigate by itself! Not bad considering the relatively affordable price.
A robot building kit with an augmented reality twist
Pai Technologies Botzees AR Coding Robot
Botzees robots represent a perfect use of the technology of the day. Not only are these little bots fun to build and program on their own, but the paired app makes use of augmented reality that turns any open area into a virtual play scape for the robot. Using a smartphone or tablet screen, kids can create a digitally illustrated world that the very real Botzees bot will roam and explore.
The smartest Perler Beads kit ever
The smART Pixelator set is a quantum leap ahead of the classic Perler Beads you likely loved as a kid. Whether following a premade design or their own uploaded image, a kid can use a lighted grid to create intricate images using little colored beads which can then be heated and fused together to create a permanent piece of artwork. Or, by working in steps, kids can create the components of three-dimensional objects they can actually build and play with.
A game kit that turns screen time into STEAM time
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit
The mirror adapter included with this Osmo kit directs an iPad's camera down onto the open area below it, turning a tabletop or floor space area into an interactive world. The art, puzzles, and games kids engage with in the real world are enhanced by virtual scenes and objects on the iPad screen, creating hours of opportunity for learning and fun.
A next-generation Lego train set
Lego Duplo Steam Train Set
Even kids as young as two years old can get enamored with Lego, and this train set has captured the imagination of my own two-year-old son. How? Because it's a smart train set with a paired smartphone app that can control the train's direction and speed. The set also includes nifty smart panels that the train's sensor "reads" as it passes over them, causing it to turn its headlights on or off, stop, go in the opposite direction, or "fuel up" by stopping temporarily. It's a fun way of teaching young kids cause and effect, one of those foundational principles of so many fields of study later on in life.
A modern engineering toy with a cool retro look and feel
Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst
This screen-free STEM kit comes with the parts and instructions needed for junior engineers to complete 10 different activities. But arguably the fun really starts when they go off script, using the included motor, wheels, axles, and other parts to add an engine to a LEGO creation, to automate an art project, or to build an entirely original robot.
A coding kit with a 'Frozen' twist
Kano Frozen II Coding Kit
Once the included motion sensor is created, kids can use their hands and their minds to create an interactive story set in the world of Disney's beloved Frozen franchise. Kids use their hands to make actual gestures above the device, such as raising a palm to raise mountains on an iPad screen. Of course, the brain exercise comes in by creating blocks of code that inform the sensor.
A literal computer that kids can build themselves
Piper Computer Kit
Competent computer use is critical for success in school, work, and life in general, and there's no better way for a child to learn how computers work than by building one themselves. This kit literally has kids connecting the wires and buttons and building the frame of a computer, a piece of hardware they can then use to create basic code strings and even play games.
An adorable caterpillar toy for toddler coders to be
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist
Here's an affordable gift for toddlers that both looks like it can take a bit of a beating but also teach them something about fundamental coding concepts. If the kid in your life is at the age of speaking but not yet in kindergarten, then this toy is ideal for them to learn cause and effect, which is essential for coding fundamentals as well as general curiosity.
The Code-a-pillar features more than 1,000 possible combinations of commands that dictate the toy's automated movement pattern. This gives young toddlers a toy with tons of variety, which should see them coming back for more again and again.
A smart toy for older kids that's all about circuits
SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits
As with many great STEM toys, this circuitry kit features a number of pre-designed activities young makers can complete but is at its best when they start creating their own original projects and experiments. The included components can be used to create all sorts of lights and sounds and can be controlled by buttons, sound, light, and motion.
A miniature, working wooden Ferris wheel that kids can build
SmartsToy Wooden Ferris Wheel Kit
This engaging toy incorporates art, design, architecture, and basic electrical engineering. First, kids build an intricate wooden Ferris Wheel. Then they can decorate it with included paints. And finally, they wire up and motorize their creation, making a functional miniature ride.
Sphero Mini Programmable Robot Ball
A model engine for the kid that's nuts about cars
Playz V8 Model Engine
The budding gearhead in your home will love this realistic scale model of a V8 engine. The process of constructing the engine will help a young engineer better understand the mechanics behind how machinery works, while the finished motor is simply fun to play with, what with its flashing lights and deep, growling noises.
A builder kit combining two of kids' favorite things: robots and Lego
Lego Boost Creative Toolbox
Legos have already stood the test of time, but even the classics can always be improved. And by integrating mechanized components and the intelligence of a smartphone or tablet app, that's exactly what the Boost kit does for Legos. Kids can use the kit to build five different robots — including a cat and a bot named Vernie — who they then control with codes they create in the app.
A 3D printer that's actually a lot of fun
3Doodler Start 3D Pen
There are a lot of 3D printing products on the market these days, with many 3D pens among them. But this 3Doodler pen is one of the only options suitable for younger kids, as it gets nowhere near hot enough to cause injury or to pose a fire danger. Kids can use this printing pen to create dimensional artwork, make their own action figures or fashion accessories, and to fabricate components they'll use with other toys.
A circuit board that easily snaps together for fun and games
Snap Circuits Arcade
This highly hands-on kit comes with components and instructions for more than 200 projects, some two-dozen of which are engaging games kids design and then play. And once your little electrical engineer gains some competence with the kit, you'll be amazed to see all the original projects she creates on her own.
A gorgeous globe that teaches geography, too
Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. Talking Globe
Any accurate globe is a great teaching tool, but globes don't tend to be all that engaging for young kids. That is, except when they are interactive and come packed with facts, games, and trivia challenges engaged with by using an included smart stylus. This globe is colorful and detailed on the surface and packed with more than 1,000 facts that span geography, history, and the natural world.
Subscribe to our newsletter.
You can purchase syndication rights to this story here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.
Source: Read Full Article