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12 Best Coding Toys for Kids

Updated 11 March 2021

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Author
Author avatar Daniel Booth

Daniel is our primary content producer here at TheToyZone. He is a big kid at heart and a self confessed geek. His mission is to find toys that kids will treasure, researching and writing about toys he wants to play with himself.

Understanding coding is crucial for kids who will be growing up in a world even more driven by code than the one we live in today, but that doesn’t mean they need to sit at a computer staring at pages of code. There are toys galore that have been created to get kids used to the concepts of coding and they’re much more fun and engaging.

With power crystals, trains, critters, robots, and robot turtles to play with, these 12 best coding toys for kids in 2021 are everything a child needs to help them understand how technology works while having a great time doing it. And because online reviews can get hacked by bots, these toys are the ones that only real people have recommended.

1ThinkFun Code Master Programming Logic Game and STEM Toy (Best Budget Option Ages 10, 11 and 12)

ThinkFun Code Master Programming Logic Game and STEM Toy (Best Budget Option Ages 10, 11 and 12)

Code Master takes kids through an exotic world as they search for power crystals. There are six crystals in all. Players will undergo 60 levels across 10 maps that steadily increase in difficulty, and they will utilize 12 guide scrolls, 12 action tokens, and eight conditional tokens. To navigate the maps, kids must use programming logic. There’s only one sequence of actions that will work, however.

This is one of the best coding toys for kids that teaches the principles of programming like builds planning and even some complex skills such as conditional branching. Since there is a single avatar, this is intended to be played with by one person. There is also an instruction manual so that kids can jump straight into the game within minutes of opening it.

What we love

  • This works as a good non-electric way to introduce programming logic
  • It works for kids at all skill levels since the difficulty increases as they play

What We Don't Like That Much

  • Some of the game pieces are large and might obscure some sections of the puzzles

2intelino J-1 Smart Train Starter Set (Best Quality Option Ages 7, 8 and 9)

intelino J-1 Smart Train Starter Set (Best Quality Option Ages 7, 8 and 9)

The intelino J-1 Smart Train Starter Set is one of the 12 best coding toys for kids that children of various ages can enjoy. It is intuitive, interactive, and ready-to-play right out of the box. Young kids can play with it like any other train set, and it is even compatible with wooden train tracks from many major brands. The trains use magnetic couplers that can connect with wooden cars also.

Kids will receive one smart engine, one wagon, a train decal sheet, 20 tracks, and 40 color snaps. For the coding aspects, children can use the color Action Snaps to control the speed. They can lay them down in different patterns on the track to slow the train down, speed it up, or allow it to go left or right at track junctions. It works screen-free, but there’s a compatible app that kids can use too for automatic or manual drive modes. The app can also be used to create customized commands.

What we love

  • Designed for use across a wide age range
  • Train is realistic with a sleek design and fun lights and sounds

What We Don't Like That Much

  • Parents will need to get an adapter separately for the tracks to work with wooden ones

3Learning Resources Coding Critters Scamper & Sneaker

Learning Resources Coding Critters Scamper & Sneaker

With the Learning Resources Coding Critters Scamper & Sneaker, children can get an early introduction to coding. It is a screen-free adventure that kids as young as preschool-age can use. There are 22 pieces, and the adorable smiling critters will delight children and keep them going back. This is also a fun toy for them to play along with parents or older siblings.

The storybook adventure not only introduces them to what coding is all about but also can help teach early reading skills as they go along with the story. By following the story, they understand cause and reaction when it comes to coding. Otherwise, kids can use it to flesh out their own creativity by designing personal coding challenges. There is even a cute Play Mode function that gives them pet responsibilities as they have to feed and care for their pet critters.

What we love

  • Features both a Coding and a Play mode so children can have fun with it in various ways
  • This can encourage not just an interest in coding, but also reading and creative skills

What We Don't Like That Much

  • The wheels on the critters could be thicker so that they can move across the carpet easier

4Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist

The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist is a unique experience for preschoolers and kindergarteners. It’s a brightly colored caterpillar that has one motorized head and five segments that are permanently attached. There are cool effects too, such as light-up eyes and other sound and lighting effects. It even has volume control so it doesn’t have to be too loud for parents.

For the coding, each segment has a dial for kids to turn. These will send the caterpillar off in various directions, play music, or emit silly sounds. There are more than 1,000 different combinations for kids to explore as they discover cause and effect to become aware of some basic coding principles.

What we love

  • Numerous combinations kids can create to keep playing for a long time
  • A good tool that can teach basic concepts to young children

What We Don't Like That Much

  • The caterpillar only runs for a brief amount of time before it needs to be restarted again

5SmartGurlz Coding Robot for Girls

SmartGurlz Coding Robot for Girls

For kids that love dolls, they can enjoy discovering new skills with the SmartGurlz Coding Robot. It can inspire them to learn coding without just staring at a screen since they can play and program at the same time. It features a motorized Siggy robot, and there are four different dolls to choose from: Zara, Maria, Jen, or Jun. However, this can support most 11in. dolls so kids can play with their favorites and still code the robot.

There are over 100 different coding combinations to go through as well. The app is compatible with various Android and Apple devices, and it can be played with on either a smartphone or a tablet. Via the app, kids will notice various assignments and challenges like missions or obstacles to go through. These can even meet computer science core curriculum goals so that it can be successfully used in a homeschool environment.

What we love

  • Designed so that it can fit with various dolls
  • Includes a fun app with a multitude of options for kids to play around with

What We Don't Like That Much

  • Might need to invest in rechargeable batteries as the toy can go through power fast

6ThinkFun Robot Turtles STEM Toy and Coding Board Game

ThinkFun Robot Turtles STEM Toy and Coding Board Game

Robot Turtles is designed for kids as young as 4-years-old, and it is made as a 2-5 player game so that the whole family can play together. Along with the large game board, this comes with four robot turtle tiles, four jewel tiles, four code card decks each with 45 cards, and 40 tiles.

For the game, players control the movement of their turtle via code cards that can control them moving left, right, and forward. With a bug card, they can undo their move while reaching the jewel marks their victory. The game keeps going, however, until all the players collect a jewel. Reaching jewel tiles also unlocks the next level.

What we love

  • Features great instructions so that it is easy to initially learn
  • Has increased levels of difficulty

What We Don't Like That Much

  • It might not have much replay value once all levels are achieved

7Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

The Wonder Workshop Dash Robot is ready to play with right out of the box as it comes fully charged. This is known as an open-ended learning platform because kids can explore numerous possibilities with it. They can control it with voice command, and there are various loops, events, and sequences to play through. It includes building block connectors so kids can attach Lego pieces to it. Other accessories can be bought to add to the robot such as a sketch kit and xylophone.

For more playtime, there are four free apps available: Wonder, Blocky, Go, and Path. Wonder focuses on picture-based coding language that makes it easy for young kids to understand. Meanwhile, Blocky introduces advanced coding concepts with fun puzzles and projects. The Go app is a good first step to learn about all the interactions of the Dash Robot, and the Path app is helpful to learn the fundamentals of coding and robotics.

What we love

  • Features incredible apps that give kids plenty of opportunities to explore and learn
  • Robot is well-made and designed with a smooth and responsive motor

What We Don't Like That Much

  • It may only come with one attachment and the others have to be purchased separately

8Robo Wunderkind Explorer Prime Kit

Robo Wunderkind Explorer Prime Kit

The Robo Wunderkind Explorer Prime Kit is a 22 piece set that provides a near-infinite amount of building and play possibilities. These sturdy blocks are colorful, and they are even compatible with Lego blocks so kids can stretch their imagination and creativity by designing customized robot builds.

This also has three free companion apps for parents to download; Robo Live, Robo Code, and Robo Blocky. This visual coding environment goes at a child’s personal pace in terms of difficulty so that they can move on to more complicated programming steps when they feel ready. It starts out easy enough, however, that children who are completely new can jump in and enjoy.

What we love

  • Blocks are well-made and work well with other building blocks
  • Features detailed instructions to help start kids off with building various robot designs

What We Don't Like That Much

  • It might not always come with a manual

9Makeblock mBot Robot Kit

Makeblock mBot Robot Kit

The mBot Robot Kit is a real robot that works as an entry-level programmable bot for kids. There are several modes that children can explore such as obstacle-avoidance. It is user-friendly with visual instructions and color-coded electronic modules. There is even a 3D building manual to further help kids along the way while still offering them the chance to learn step-by-step.

This combines coding with games via the Makeblock App. There are three rounds for children to go through, and through each one, they can steadily level up their coding skills. The first round focuses on playing around with the controls, and the second round has gameplay learning to unlock more coding skills. Meanwhile, the third round will see kids learning more advanced programming skills.

What we love

  • A great introduction to robotics and software learning and design
  • Robot can function like an RC car for younger kids

What We Don't Like That Much

  • The robot could be better at handling multiple tasks at once

10Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit

Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit

The Force Coding Kit is a must-have for any Star Wars fan. No coding skills are necessary to enjoy this, and it is compatible with numerous devices such as Fire 10 tablets, iPads, Windows 10, and Macs. There’s a free companion app to download to get kids started. Children will build a sensor that will detect 3D hand motions, and as they build it, kids will understand how everything works.

Via the app, they can play and learn how to code through step-by-step challenges. This is a good introduction to learning loops, variables, and logic. For more fun, kids can use their hands to control and swing a lightsaber, pilot starships, and even Jedi Mind Trick stormtroopers. They can create their own Star Wars adventure and share them with the community.

What we love

  • Features great Star Wars tie-ins to excite fans of the popular series
  • Initial steps are easy for beginners to follow

What We Don't Like That Much

  • The sensors could have greater movement precision

11Code Rocket Coding Toys

Code Rocket Coding Toys

The Code Rocket Coding Toys can inspire budding engineers as they embark on real learning that teaches similar typed C++ coding that’s used at NASA. As it stands, this is most ideal for older kids who may have some beginner skills already. This is compatible with most standard laptops, and it starts by teaching kids by example and guides them through fundamental concepts that can lead children to customizing their own programs.

There are 20 free online projects to explore. The rocket itself features eight cool built-in LED lights, a speaker, and two buttons. This has a fun countdown sequence with lights and sounds, Morse code messages on the lights and sounds, and even a fade up and down thruster LED lights.

What we love

  • Can teach intermediate to more advanced coding skills
  • Features several different light and sound functions

What We Don't Like That Much

  • May be played with longer if it featured additional interactive components

12Lego Boost Creative Toolbox

Lego Boost Creative Toolbox

The Lego Boost Creative Toolbox is one of the 12 best coding toys for kids that elevate typical building block playtime with something more interactive and learning-based. It includes 847 Lego pieces that children can use to create five different multifunctional models.

Dubbed “Vernie the Robot”, this robot can dance and even rock out using the Guitar4000. It can even care for Frankie the Cat alongside performing several other functions. This comes with the free Lego app where kids can follow step-by-step instructions on gaining coding skills. For easier playing, this comes with a playmat so kids can perform specific activities.

What we love

  • Kids can build different models to change up their playstyle from time to time
  • Robot can be built in stages to help kids learn at a comfortable pace

What We Don't Like That Much

  • Any robot sounds are emitted from the tablet since the robot doesn't have speakers