Back in the day, you likely learned some STEM skills from playing with Lego blocks and Lincoln Logs. As tech advances, so do toys. Now, Legos and other low-tech toys have combined with high-tech robots that help turn learning about engineering, coding, and math into fun. STEM-rated school work is surely a part of your kid's curriculum, and these toys can reinforce skills and give budding inventors the chance to be creative on their own outside the classroom.
Read on for recommendations on the nine best robotics kits to keep kids age 3 and up entertained.
Best Robot Toys for Kids
- Best Overall: Lego Star Wars Boost Droid Commander Robot Toy
- Best Budget: 4M Tin Can Robot
- For the Basics: Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set
- A Step Up: Wonder Workshop Dash Coding Robot
- For Kids Ages 8 and Up: Makeblock mBot Robot Kit
- For Kids Ages 10 and Up: Lego Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor Building Set
- For Young Astronauts: JIMU AstroBot Series: Cosmos Kit
- For Young Inventors: Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst STEM Kit
- Advanced AI: Anki Cozmo Robot Toy
What Kids Can Learn from Robots
In addition to STEM literacy, studies are showing that robotics can encourage other skills like hands-on creativity, problem solving, communication, and teamwork. So teaching robotics isn’t just about setting up your kid to have a career as a computer programmer or engineer; it equips them with tech and problem-solving skills they’ll need for education and work.
And while you may think robotics clubs are only for middle and high schoolers, research has shown that, when robotics is introduced in pre-K to second grade, children are also able to master basic robotics and programming skills. Many of these robot kits can be given to children as young as 3 years old, while some are more advanced for those 8 and up. Parents who don’t know if their children are interested in a robotics kit can opt for one of the less expensive ones under $50. More expensive options over $100 offer more complexity and can often be customized to challenge kids as they get older and more experienced.
How We Selected These Robot Kits
All of the robotics kits we feature have an average customer rating of 4 stars or higher. During our research, we considered expert sources such as Wirecutter, Digital Trends, and Tom’s Guide and combed through countless reviews. Each kit on this list was evaluated for its STEM education standards and also for how intuitive, informative, and (just as importantly) fun it is for kids. We also considered a wide variety of toys to account for different kids’ interests, age, and skill level, plus parents’ budgets.
You can always count on Legos to be fun and engaging, but this robot kit adds some coding elements to the classic toy. The 1,177-piece set includes three Lego Star Wars droids—R2-D2, Gonk Droid, and Mouse Droid—along with a color and distance sensor and an interactive motor. Kids can program the droids to embark on 40 different missions.
Like most robotics kits, it’s also compatible with its own smartphone app, called Lego Boost, available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows 10 devices.
This robot kit allows kids to be creative on the cheap. A used soda can, a AAA battery, and a small crosshead screwdriver are all that’s required to learn how to repurpose an object and transform it into a fun and functional bot with a motion sensor.
Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, the kit has easy-to-read instructions and is a great first design to build your kids’ confidence before they move on to bigger—and more expensive—robotics kits.
This 77-piece activity set is reasonably priced and gives kids ages 5 and up a solid base for coding and robotics concepts. Botley the Coding Robot comes to life with an easy-to-use remote, so there are no apps to download (and no screen time).
The kit includes coding activity sheets along with plenty of fun accessories to create obstacle courses, plus kids can play with Botley right out of the box.
For parents who want to introduce kids to coding or build their skills, Wonder Workshop's Dash is a smart choice for kids ages 6 and up.
Compared to kits that require extensive building before they're up and running, Dash comes charged and ready for about 5 hours of playtime. The coding robot is compatible with Lego and the set includes two building brick connectors, plus kids can add their own Lego bricks to make other creations.
There are also four free apps to download that take kids from beginner concepts to more advanced ones.
The Makeblock's mBot is an excellent option for young programmers, as the small robot can be built in about 15 minutes using an easy-to-follow guide and step-by-step instructions in 3D.
Kids can start coding in Scratch, a graphic programming language, with free included software—plus there's an app with 60 game-based tasks to challenge kids and help them advance their skills.
Although this kit is expensive, you get a ton of action—plus challenging coding activities—out of this programmable remote-controlled robot.
For older kids ages 10 and up, the Lego kit comes with plans for five unique designs, as well as a smartphone app with more than 50 activities, almost 1,000 pieces, and a rechargeable battery. If you already know your kid is obsessed with robotics, this may be the kit that finally satiates their curiosity.
With this kit, kids ages 8 and up can create three different cosmic robots—AstroBot, Rover, and Astron—or use their skills and imagination to build their own.
The kit's iOS- and Android-compatible app uses 3D animation to teach kids how to build the robots step-by-step. Then, after downloading the Blockly app or a similar block-coding language like Scratch, kids get to do the work. They can make the robots perform physical tasks like moving around objects, plus tweak light and sound effects and even give them personality traits.
This kit allows kids to build and rebuild robots, cars, and creatures of their own imagination. It’s perfect for the budding inventor who likes to tinker with things around the house, and includes wooden pieces, electric motors and batteries, plus hardware and tools, including protective goggles and a screwdriver.
There’s also a game element—10 play cards that challenge kids to build various creations on the spot. The kit is a customer favorite, with an average 4.6 stars from more than 460 reviewers, and it’s recommended for kids ages 8 to 12.
For kids who've moved past the beginner level and are ready for a serious (if expensive) challenge, this kit allows them to build and program their own robot.
Cozmo is equipped with AI and can express emotions, recognize people, and remember names using a 30-frames-per-second camera and facial-recognition software.
Using the iOS- and Android-compatible app, kids can program Cozmo to do everything from dancing and sneezing to playing a game of hot potato by configuring coding blocks.