Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Top Coding Toys and Gifts for Kids Aged 5-7: Expert Picks

Here's our roundup of the best coding toys and gifts for children aged 5 to 7. At this age, many children will be experiencing coding for the first time while others are capable of some pretty advanced stuff.

The options for this age range are looking really good this year with several really strong new products. There are choices that combine educational value with entertainment which makes the products suitable for a Christmas or birthday gift for a broader range of children.

For kids at the younger end of the age range, it's also worth taking a look at our recommendations for 3-4-year-olds as those products are still suitable for slightly older beginners and some extend into this category.

  1. Kids First Coding & Robotics Kit - Age 5-8

    This is a new kit for 2018 and
  2. Dance Code Belle - Age 5+

    Dance Code featuring Disney Princess Belle is firmly targetted at this age group. Kids can use an app to program dance routines for Belle. Disney princesses are hugely popular in the 5-7 age range so this is a smart move by Hasbro and Disney.

    When teaching computing it's common to explain that algorithms are like choreography so dance and coding are a great fit. Dance Code Belle would appeal to a child that loves Barbie and can then be introduced to coding using a passion they already have.

  3. Osmo Coding - Age 5-12

    Osmo Coding is an add-on so you'll need an Osmo Starter Kit or Genius Kit. We've reviewed Osmo Coding in detail and highly recommend it. It's a high-quality product which is engaging and gets kids thinking. 

    The Osmo system uses the camera from an iPad (or iPhone) to read the position of physical blocks. In Osmo Coding, kids need to arrange code blocks to solve puzzles and guide a cute character called Awbie around his world.

    UPDATE 2018: Osmo Games are coming to Amazon Fire Tablets.

    Osmo Coding (and the Osmo system in general) is great for kids who are hard to pull away from a screen. The screen engages them but the physical blocks make for a hybrid digital-traditional experience. It feels much more social that kids just being on their device.

    Read our review of Osmo Coding Jam and Osmo Coding with Awbie.

  4. FurReal Makers Proto Max Pet - Age 6+

    FurReal Makers Proto Max Pet was released in 2017. Max is robot dog. This isn't just a coding toy, kids must first assemble Max from component parts and the dog's body is transparent so you can see the parts inside. 

    There's an accompanying app which allows kids to interact with Max and also write code to customize the pup. 

    This is the kind of product we've been wanting for a while. My kids have found regular robot pets interesting at first but have often asked, "now can we code it to do what we want?" Now that's possible.  

  5. Dash and Dot - Age 6+

    Wonder Workshop's Dash and Dot were early entrants to the modern programmable robots for kids party and they're still an excellent choice, especially with this year's new Dot Creativity Kit. (Read our full hands-on review) There are lots of options for programming these robots and they are packed with character. They're very friendly and a great option for kids who might be a little nervous about coding and for kids who love making stuff - they are just asking to be accessorised!
    See our Dash and Dot review for more details. We'd say you can start kids with Dash and Dot at 5 (or even 4) if they have support from a parent or older sibling.  
    Dash moves around while Dot is a smaller robot with interactive features. They work really well as a pair and with extra add-ons. This is one of those ranges where it's really worth getting the extras - we love the LEGO adaptors and the projectile launcher. 
    This isn't just a product, it's an ecosystem with online resources and regular competitions and challenges. 

  6. LEGO Boost - Age 7-12

    You can read our full review of LEGO Boost. Short version, for kids who love LEGO, it's awesome and it's one of those products that they really should have. 

    LEGO Boost comes in at the top end of this category with a recommended starting age of 7. We'd say this is based on the difficulty of the LEGO building - the models are quite big and take a while to put together. The coding is quite approachable, especially for kids who have already done a bit of coding. 

    My own kids were at peak LEGO from around age 4-7 and my older son was great at following detailed LEGO instructions from a young age. For a child like that, get LEGO Boost early, expect them to need a bit of help and for them to get a few years play out of it. Each model is like a toy in itself and you get quite a bit of LEGO in this kit as well as all the electronics, some models will appeal to the younger end of the 7-12 age range while others will appeal to bigger kids, and they do vary in difficulty. 

    LEGO Boost isn't like some products where there will be a replacement product next year. It will stay current for several years so don't worry about buying it too soon. (Normally we advise to avoid buying a product that's could be too advanced as something better / more up to date might come along by the time they're ready.)

  7. KANO Range - Age 6+ 

    KANO make add-on kits for the Raspberry Pi that make the beginner computer accessible to younger children. This year they've also introduced some very cool coding products that don't use a Raspberry Pi. KANO's products are recommended from age 6 (with a note that 6-8 year-olds may need a bit more help.) But we feel that other companies would label the same products as age 8+. We like KANO's approach because it means that kids who are really into coding and tech get to use the cool stuff when they're ready for it. 

    If you've got a child in this age range who is highly motivated and has already tried some basic stuff then we'd recommend the new Kano Computer Kit Complete. It combines a Raspberry Pi computer with everything you need to turn it into a portable computer as well as kid-friendly resources for learning to code. Read our full hands-on review for Kano Computer Kit Complete.

    UPDATE 2018: Kano Computer Kit now comes with a touchscreen, a very welcome improvement for young kids.

    We also love the KANO Pixel Kit which is a self-contained programmable kit with a gorgeous pixel grid display, you program it from a computer. We've written a hands-on review of the Pixel Kit

    If you're buying for an able 6-7 year-old and are worried that some of the other products we've covered will be 'too easy' then we'd recommend KANO. Their products are high-quality and very approachable while not under-estimating what kids can do. 

  8. Coding Books

    Coding books are also a great option for a smaller gift for this age group. 

    See our overview of Coding Books for Young Kids

Coding Toys Gift Ideas for Other Age Groups

  • Coding Toys for Preschoolers - ages 3-4
  • Coding Toys for Big Kids - ages 8-10
  • Coding Toys and Kits for Tweens - ages 10-12
  • Coding Kits for Teens - ages 13+

More from Tech Age Kids:


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