Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Coding Toys for Kids - What's New for 2016?

2016 is the year when coding toys for kids become mainstream. We're starting to see major manufacturers bringing out toys that focus on teaching computer programming skills to children from preschool age through to tweens.

In the past we've seen technology used to develop learning toys that teach children about other topics (such as phonics), but now we're seeing tech being used to teach kids about tech.

In previous years coding toys for kids have tended to come from specialist companies, this year we're seeing offerings from major brands including Fisher Price, WowWee and Thames & Kosmos.

We'll start with products aimed at younger kids and work up through big kids to teenagers. There's something for everyone this year.

Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar

The Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar got lots of attention when it debuted at CES 2016. The Code-a-Pillar is aimed at preschoolers and little kids from age 3 to 6.

The Code-a-Pillar is an electronic toy that moves and plays sounds and is controlled by joining its body parts in a sequence. You also get start and goal marker discs that can be used for challenges.

Code-a-pillar looks set to be a huge success this Christmas.

LeapPad LeapStart Interactive Learning System

LeapPad's new LeapStart interactive learning system has a range of content for preschoolers and children up to age 7. There are two versions of the device aimed at different age groups.

This isn't specifically a coding toy, but it's interesting that LeapPad have included coding as one of the skills that it teaches to little kids. Their STEM Activity Book for the system includes a 'program your own sound machine' activity and is aimed at children from 2-5.
Code-a-pillar looks set to be a huge success this Christmas.

Learning Resources STEM Mouse

Learning Resources have brought out a STEM Robot Mouse and accessories to teach kids to children from age 5+. The robot mouse takes a similar approach to the floor robots that have been used in preschools and primary schools for a long time. 

The mouse has buttons on top which are used to program a sequence of commands to navigate the mouse to a target and around obstacles. The activity set includes a reconfigurable maze board, tunnels, walls and a cheese target. You also get a set of activity cards that give a challenge to build and solve.

littlecodr Board Game

littlecodr is a coding board game for young children aged 4-8. littlecodr was originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter, 2016 is the first Christmas it's available to buy. 

Kids use action to cards to program their parents to perform actions in the real world. Yes really! littlecodr is lots of fun and doesn't involve sitting in the same place for a long time, which some kids (and parents) struggle with.

littlecodr makes a great gift for a family with young children and is a good option for family get-togethers. Little cousins program big cousins?

COJI by WowWee

COJI is a programmable robot and app from WowWee for children aged 6+ (or possibly even younger.)

This robot is programmed using Emojis so it's got a real cool factor to it. 

The robot is used along with a free app that teaches kids programming concepts. 

Coji has sensors to enable interactivity and also has a full colour screen so it can display graphics. 

Coji has the appeal of a fun tech toy while also teaching kids useful skills.

Pre-order Coji: Amazon UK

Coder MiP by WowWee 

WowWee have also announced Coder MiP a programmable version of their popular balancing robot. This is fantastic news. Coder MiP has an accompanying drag and drop programming language which kids can use on a bluetooth connected device. The MiP robots have some great inputs that can be used to trigger programmed behviours. The Coder MiP is also see through so kids can see its electronics. It's fantastic to see products like this that encourage kids to learn about tech rather than just playing with it.

Thames & Kosmos Code Gamer

We first saw the Thames & Kosmos Code Gamer at the London Toy Fair at the beginning of the year and it caught our attention.

The Code Gamer is a buildable games controller that is used with an app to develop games. Kids learn the popular Arduino hardware programming framework and the Code Gamer can also be extended with additional electronics.

The recommended age for Code Gamer is 10+ and it's likely to appeal to tweens and teens who don't already have lots of experience with coding and electronics.

OzoBot Evo

We're big OzoBot fans at Tech Ahe Kids, their little robots allow kids to do lots of cool coding in a small space.

Well OzoBot have a new mini robot for Christmas 2016, the OzoBot Evo. Evo adds connected and social capabilities as well as sound and obstacle detection.

You can control OzoBot Evo from a tablet or phone, and like the older OzoBot Bit, you can program it using drag and drop OzoBlockly or use line following and colour codes.

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