Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Top Tech (STEM) Gifts for Kids Aged 8, 9 and 10 - Coding, Robots, Gadgets, Maker


There are some fab tech gifts available for girls and boys age 8 to 10 this year. Our focus at Tech Age Kids is on the products that encourage kids to explore technology creatively, develop STEM/STEAM skills and encourage healthy tech use as part of a balanced life.

8 is the lower end of the age range for lots of tech products. Kids manual dexterity has improved, most can read well and they are willing to invest time to follow more complex instructions.

8-10 is an important age for encouraging healthy use of technology. Kids can start to move away from toys and playing outside and fall into a pattern of spending too much time passively consuming content on a tablet or PC.

We've chosen gift ideas that will encourage kids to develop STEM/STEAM skills and be creative with their use of technology.

Not in any particular order,
  1. mBot v1.1

    We're big fans of mBot programmable robots. These robots are built from kits, it's quick to get up and running but kids really feel that they have built a robot.

    mBot can be programmed in a tool based on Scratch which is commonly taught in schools to children in this age group. There's also an app which is easy to get started with.

    Read our review of mBot 1.1 for more information. 
  2. Coder MiP

    Coder MiP is an updated version of the MiP balancing robot. MiP is a great choice if you want to buy a tech toy that is entertaining but also offers the ability to code.

    Coder MiP has all the features of the earlier MiP robot and offers lots of fun gameplay and interactivity, but it can also be programmed in a block-based language.

    Read our review of Coder MiP for more information.
  3. littleBits

    littleBits 

    littleBits are modular electronics components that encourage kids to create electronic devices and contraptions.

    We like the Gadgets and Gizmos and Rule Your Room sets as they include lots of fun projects ideas to get kids started.

    littleBits is recommended for kids from age 8+, those at the younger end will probably need a bit of help physically assembling projects when they're getting started, but we think it's the right age to start building a littleBits collection. There's lots of scope for older kids including programming support.

    littleBits makes a great family gift for a family with kids in the 8 through to teens age range.
  4. Mover Kit

    The Mover Kit from Technology Will Save Us is a programmable wearable for kids. We love that it encourages kids to think about how gadgets work and come up with their own ideas.

    We also love that Tech Will Save Us have tapped into modern parents' fear of kids not being active enough and spending too much time stuck in front of a screen.

    The Mover Kit has motion sensors so many of the gadgets kids can make with it require movement.
  5. Bose Build Speaker

    The Bose Build Speaker is another gift that encourage kids to explore how the modern world works.

    Bose make high quality audio equipment and they have put together a kit that teaches kids how speakers work and gets them to build their own speaker that they can use.

    We really like that this kit leaves you with a useful gadget rather than more stuff to store in a cupboard!
  6. Viewmaster Deluxe VR Viewer

    VR is a hot tech trend at the moment but most VR devices are not recommended for use by children.

    The Viewmaster Deluxe VR Viewer on the other had is actually designed for children aged 7 and up. It doesn't have a neck strap so kids have to hold it with their hands - this protects their necks and means that they are unlikely to play for too long.

    The Viewmaster has its own kids-friendly apps and content and is also google Cardboard compatible. Great for kids who want to participate in the latest tech trends. 
  7. VR Maze Starter Set

    The Maze Starter Set For iOS households the VR Maze from Seedling is another way for kids to get into virtual reality. Kids get to build a physical maze and turn it into a virtual reality maze game. Sound cool? It is!

    The Maze Starter Set includes the maze building kit, a cardboard VR headset to decorate and 2 DIY Virtual Reality Viewers to make and decorate (it's more fun if a friend or sibling can join in too!) There are other bundles too including sets with headphones to decorate.
  8. GeckoBot

    It's really important that kids learn about how the physical world works. Construction toys are really important for this. This year we particularly like the GeckoBot from Thames and Kosmos.

    The GeckoBot has suckers and can walk up smooth vertical surfaces. Kids can also build other projects from the kit to explore air pressure and suction. 
  9. Bloxels

    Bloxels allows kids to design, create and play their own video games on a mobile device. Kids design characters and game layouts using a board of physical pixels and the using the device camera to bring their creation into the Bloxels Builder app. The board is also used to add special features to characters.

    Bloxels has an initial cool factor with the physical board and pixels and the ability to create and play your own video games. But it's the focus on designing a game that really appeals to use. Kids really have to think about what makes a good game, not too hard, not too easy.

     Read our Bloxels review for more information
  10. SimBrix

    SimBrix are small blocks that slide together to create pixel art that you can play with. They can be ironed but there's no need as they just stay together until you want to make something else.

    SimBrix is fab for kids who are obsessed with computer games to encourage them to spend some time doing an activity that develops their fine motor skills. Of course, they don't see it like that - they're just busy recreating their Minecraft skin in physical form ...

    See our posts about SimBrix for more information
  11. Garmin VivoFit Jr

    Rather than dragging kids away from their tech to encourage them to be more active we prefer to use tech in a positive way to promote physical activity.

    The Garmin VivoFit Jr is a wearable fitness tracker that allows parents to monitor activity and also manage chores. There's a fun app that goes with the device to get kids motivated.

    The Garmin VivoFit Jr comes in a choice of cool designs that will appeal to bigger girls and boys and only needs charging once a year. They can also wear it swimming.
  12. Kindle for Kids Bundle

    Somewhere around this age group most kids will move on to longer chapter books and be happy with books without colour pictures. An eReader is a great way to encourage them to read more while avoiding the distractions and bright light of a tablet.

    The Amazon Kindle for Kids Bundle packages a electronic ink eReader devices with a kid-friendly cover and warranty and comes without ads. The device has lots of features to encourage kids to develop new vocabulary and keep reading.

    See Kindle for Kids Bundle for more information
  13. 3Doodler Start Kids 3D Printing Pen

  14. The 3Doodler Start is a new 3D pen that allows younger makers to create art work in 3D using coloured filament. This pen stays cool so it's safe for older children to use. It's rechargeable so there's no annoying wire to get in the way.

    The 3Doodler Start comes in a basic pack of a Super Mega Pen Set which includes lots of activities and coloured filament to get kids started with creating. 

A note on age recommendations

It can be frustrating for a child to be given a gift that they're not ready for, though it can always be put away for later, but it's also annoying to get a gift and realise that a child would have appreciated it when they were younger!

All kids are different and there's a huge difference between what they can do completely independently and what they can learn a lot from when helped by a parent, grandparent or older sibling. We've tried to choose products that will be accessible to kids in the age 8-10 age range while offering enough breadth that they will challenge and appeal to those at the top end of the ability range.

For 10 year olds who are really into their tech, make sure you check out our guide for tweens (coming soon.) For kids at the younger end of the age range with less experience check out our guide for younger kids (also coming soon.)









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