The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

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 like 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

Makeblock mBot Smart Robot Kit ($85)

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.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Littlebits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit ($100)

The chance to build and customize your very own R2 unit and then take it on missions will be tough to pass up for any Star Wars fan. Littlebits has been inspiring kids to invent and create with electronics kits that can be configured into gadgets for a couple of years now, but this official Star Wars tie-in is a match made in heaven. There are clear instructions for putting R2 together, it can be customized and reconfigured, and you can control it via a slick app on your iPhone or Android phone. You can even plug in components from other Littlebits sets to expand R2’s functionality. This is the droid you’ve been looking for.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Anki Cozmo Robot ($140)

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.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Galaxy Zega Battle Tanks ($150+)

Transform your living room floor into a battleground and go head-to-head with smartphone-controlled tanks. Thanks to Galaxy Zega’s clever design, it’s quick and easy to slot a battleground together. You can use Android and iOS devices as remote controls, and the apps allow you to earn points and upgrade your tank. It’s also worth spending the extra $30 on the X-bases, because they act as power-up squares or flags that spice up the various game modes. Younger kids can enjoy the tanks, too, but they’ll need some supervision and a smartphone or tablet to join in the fun.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Galaxy Zega

Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot ($195)

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.

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Amazon Walmart

Anki Overdrive Battle and Race Robotic Supercars Starter Kit ($100)

How would you modernize slot-car race tracks? Anki Overdrive could be the answer. It’s like a cross between Scalextric and Mario Kart. Cars are controlled by an Android or iOS device, and you can race or battle each other. You can fit up to four cars on the track at once, but you don’t need company because the AI is impressively good. The track can be slotted together to create various different layouts, and you can add extra packs to extend it. The basic kit has dropped in price now and there are lots of add-on packs available. There’s even an Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition for $120, which is ideal for fans of the movies.

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Amazon

Circuit Maze Board Game ($30)

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.

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Amazon

6-7 Years and up

Sphero Ollie Robot ($59)

The Ollie robot takes the best of the original Sphero robot and brings it outdoors. The Ollie has a polycarbonate shell and knobby rubber tires that can handle any rough or tumble stunts you throw at it. Controlled by a smartphone, the robot can travel from the kitchen to the driveway and all the way to the skate park without missing a beat.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

SelfieMic Selfie Stick Microphone ($27)

If your youngster has their heart set on a career as a pop star — or they just enjoy singing — then the SelfieMic could be a real hit. It’s a selfie stick that comes outfitted with a microphone, though you’ll need to provide the smartphone in order to use it properly. There’s also a companion app available for Android and iOS devices that’s packed with potential karaoke songs. Your kids can even edit their creations, add effects, and share them instantly. That said, you’ll definitely want to supervise younger kids with this one.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

SAM Labs Science Museum Inventor Kit ($100)

The elegant simplicity of this electronics kit is appealing for kids and adults alike. You get a light sensor, a buzzer, a tilt sensor, a motor, and a few other bits and pieces in the box. Start up the software on your computer and you’ll find a simple interface where you can move and link together the various blocks. It’s not just about creating sequences for the electronics, either. You can also trigger your computer to play sounds, capture photos, and send tweets. This particular kit was produced in partnership with the London Science Museum, and includes guides that encapsulate everything from Morse code to alarm systems.

Buy one now from:

Amazon SAM Labs

Mattel View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack ($18)

Virtual reality is everywhere now and it’s exciting, but there’s still some doubt about whether VR is safe for kids or not. There are a few VR headsets that use your smartphone as the screen, but this is the first one we’ve seen that’s specifically aimed at kids. It works with various smartphones, just like Google Cardboard, and there are a number of compatible VR apps and games currently available for Android and iOS. In a nod to the view-masters of yesteryear, Mattel has also included reels that trigger different augmented-reality experiences. You can buy various $15 reel packs, which cover topics such as space and wildlife.

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Amazon

Dino-Lite AM2111 handheld 0.3 MP digital microscope ($99)

It’s amazing what you can see with a microscope. Your kids will love collecting samples to examine, and even everyday objects can reveal surprises. This handheld microscope plugs into your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone — the software supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS — and shows from 10X up to 220X magnification. There are also four LEDs to illuminate your subject and a plastic stand you can slot it into. You can also use it to capture photographs or video.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

6 Years and up

KD Interactive Aura Drone with Glove Controller ($90)

Drones are flying high right now, but the best drones are expensive, and they can be tough to pilot. The clever idea behind the Aura Drone is that you can fly it with a special glove controller. This small, lightweight drone is designed for indoor use and has built-in safety features that make it ideal for kids to try, including automatic takeoff, hover, and landing, as well as height and distance limits. Controlling the drone with hand gestures feels natural and it’s easy for kids to grasp. You can even do a flip trick — just make sure your ornaments are safely stowed away first!

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Amazon

Osmo Genius Kit Game System for iPad ($100)

This is an excellent iPad accessory pack that offers several fun and educational activities. There’s a stand, and the camera attachment enables your iPad to see the table in front of it. Your kids are challenged to make different shapes, spell words, trace pictures, and play physics-based games. It’s expensive, but it’s also very well-designed, and kids love learning with it. You can also buy additional packs, such as Osmo’s Coding Jam which employs music to teach kids how to code. Read our full Osmo Genius Kit for iPad review for more details. Osmo has also made most of the same experiences available through your iPhone, with the new Osmo iPhone Base at $25.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Kano Computer Kit ($130)

This is a complete build-your-own computer kit bundled with all sorts of interesting software to inspire your kids to start programming, and make music or games. There are simple illustrated guides for them to follow, and it’s impressively accessible. It’s based around a Raspberry Pi 3, but you also get an orange keyboard, a mouse, some other bits and pieces, and a set of stencils and stickers to customize the look. The real fun begins when it’s built and they dig into the challenges to tell it what to do.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

2-5 Years and up

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot Wonder Pack ($280)

This wee robot has real personality and hooks up to an Android or iOS device for all sorts of play and learning. It’s best for the five year-old age group and older. At the shallow end, it’s a remote control robot that lights up and makes sounds, but if you dig deeper, you can actually program routines into it with the accessible Blockly drag-and-drop coding app. It’s also compatible with Lego, and Wonder Workshop offers a static companion robot and a bunch of other extras if you want to expand on it. Read our full Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot review to find out more.

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Amazon

VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk ($45)

Parents want to introduce technology to their young children, but they don’t want them to miss out on the hands-on activities that are critical to motor skills development. The VTech desk meets both these needs by using a LED display, an interactive touchpad and sound to teach math basics, music, drawing and more. The digital desk includes five activity pages to get a child started and expansion packs that delve into different subjects.

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Amazon

CogniToys Dino ($100)

Your kids will fall in love with this talking dinosaur. It can tell stories, play games, crack jokes, and sing songs. It can also answer any appropriate questions your child has because it is connected to the internet. Press the button on Dino’s tummy and ask him how to spell a word or who the president is, and you’ll get the right answer back in a voice that’s very reminiscent of Yoda. There’s also a child-friendly engine on top that adjusts to your kid and filters out anything inappropriate, even telling them off for using curse words. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but CogniToys is continuing to work on improving it and adding new tricks to Dino’s repertoire. Read our full CogniToys Dino review to find out more. The company has also released a follow-up called STEMosaur which kids have to put together themselves.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio ($30)

Kids love Play-Doh and this kit allows them to scan their physical creations into the digital world on an iPad or another iOS device. The kit includes a familiar array of Play-Doh cans, tools, cutters, and stampers, along with a special plastic tray. If you place creations on the tray and scan it with an iPad, they come to life as characters or objects in a colorful, side-scrolling world. The creations can even jump around and explore their digital environments, and you can scan non-Play-Doh objects to serve as backgrounds.

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Amazon Apple

3 Years and up

Primo Cubetto Playset ($225)

This friendly, wooden robot has been specifically designed for kids between the ages of 3 and 6. The robot teaches the basics of computer programming without speaking or a display; instead, it relies on a wooden board that your kids can fit with colored blocks. These, in turn, make programs that command the super-cute Cubetto robot. There’s also a map and story book to help bring it to life and spark ideas. This Montessori-approved toy is very accessible and well-designed, which is rare when you’re dealing with educational toys geared toward younger audiences.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Primo Toys

Marbotic Smart Numbers ($35) and Smart Letters ($50)

The digital age has sparked many exciting new developments in education, but evidence suggests that kids learn best when there’s a physical element involved. Marbotic has developed the Smart Numbers and Smart Letters packs as an introduction to help children learn the basics when it comes to math, reading, and writing. The beautiful, wooden letters and numbers can be used in conjunction with an iPad or Android tablet to help kids learn in a fun way. Placing the right letters or numbers on the screen sparks animations and creates a link between the physical and digital realms that’s more compelling than either would be on its own. Best of all, the software has been developed in partnership with both education experts and real teachers.

Buy one now from Target:

Numbers Letters

Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar ($39)

You’re never too young to start learning problem-solving skills and the Code-a-Pillar proves it. This robotic caterpillar consists of different sections, ones your child can stick together. Each segment does something different, so by sticking them together in a specific order, your child is creating sequences that form the basis of coding. Can they guide the Code-a-Pillar from A to B? Younger kids might not fully grasp the concept, but the toy also has a motorized head and sounds that gives it some personality, so it’s always interesting to play with.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

2 years and up

Kidz Gear Volume Limit Headphones ($16-20)

Kidz-Gear-Volume-Limit-Headphones_

Kids and adults don’t always see eye to eye, as any parent who has endured the musical tastes of a youngster for a long car trip can attest. The easy answer is headphones. The Kidz Gear wired headphones produce decent quality sound and they’re sturdy, adjustable, and available in seven different colors. They also have a limited maximum volume. These headphones could be just as much of a gift for the parents as they are for the child.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

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