Finding the perfect gadget gifts for children is trickier than it looks. The children’s toy market is awash with overpriced junk destined to end up unloved and forgotten at the bottom of a toy box within days of being unwrapped. How do you find kid’s tech that’s inspiring and educational, but fun enough to keep them coming back to it? We have just the right picks.
We’re not going to look at obvious categories such as tablets or smartphones — we have separate roundups for those. This is about interesting and unusual gadgets that will hopefully delight your wee ones. These are the best tech toys for kids. We have included the suggested age from the manufacturer here, but we’ve found that as long as they’re supervised, younger kids will also really enjoy most of these gadgets and toys.
8 years and up
The Makeblock mBot Smart Robot kit makes it easy to introduce STEM to elementary school kids. The robot kit is comprised of modules that fit together with an enclosed screwdriver. No soldering required! It also has several pre-set modes that allow a child to explore essential robot functions such as obstacle avoidance and line following with minimal coding. For more experienced children, the mBot can be controlled via a Scratch-based programming system and has expansion packs that add new functions to the robot. It even is compatible with LEGO, providing endless hours of creativity.
Littlebits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit ($150 MSRP)
Introduce your kids to STEM the easy way with the Avengers Hero Inventor Kit from Little Bits. Kids can get in full Tony Stark mode by building their own wearable gauntlet, complete with sensors, sound effects, and flashing lights. It’s modular in design and customizable so kids can tinker with the various components to see how they work.
Kids can also add superhero powers to their gauntlet via a block-based coding system. A companion app with superhero-themed lessons guides the kids through both the building and coding process. The tutorials start off easy and then gradually increase in difficulty. Kids will learn how to build circuits, interact with sensors, and program lights and sounds.
The customization is the winning feature in the kit. Kids can toy with the blocks to add new superhero powers or even record their own battle cry using the included speaker module. Our favorite component, however, is the LED matrix, which can be programmed to display a custom image.
Anki Cozmo Robot ($180 MSRP)
This ridiculously adorable, tiny robot, is packed with personality. Reminiscent of Wall-E, Cozmo hooks up to your Android or iOS device via Wi-Fi. It can be programmed in an accessible step-by-step way, but there are also some simple games your kids can dive straight into. Cozmo can recognize your face, get to know you, and develop its own personality. If you want to inspire your kids to switch off the PlayStation, or you’re avoiding getting a family pet, Cozmo could be ideal. Read our Cozmo hands-on review to learn more.
Sphero Bolt Robot ($150 MSRP)
Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot ($120 MSRP)
What kid wouldn’t love to build their own 4-foot-tall robot that’s capable of mimicking them and responding to instructions? There are around 1,200 parts to this, including a brain, LED eyes, and eight motors. You can use an Android or iOS app with it, but it’s easier to teach the Meccanoid through direct manipulation. There are lots of voice commands you can use, and it can be reconfigured into something less humanoid — but be warned, it takes a long time to build
Circuit Maze Board Game ($30 MSRP)
This puzzle game teaches your kids all about how circuits and electricity work. It’s a well-made game with 60 different challenges to beat. They’ll need to move the pieces around and fit them in the right sequence to solve each puzzle. The challenges come in three different difficulty levels. It’s great for developing problem-solving skills, and, more importantly, it’s fun for adults to play along with their kids. If you’re trying to cut down on screen time, this is a nice alternative.