Tech toys of all kinds are always a must-have for iPad-happy kids – cute robots, smartwatches, child-friendly cameras and more. But it's toys that help your child learn how to code, and become proficient at it, that tick the key educational box as well as the fun one.


But what exactly is a coding toy? Essentially, it's one that helps in some small way to teach your child how to code – which, in non-tech speak, basically means to execute a computer program. Websites, web browsers, apps, everyday programs like Microsoft Word and even the operating system your smartphone runs on, are all written in 'code'. There are numerous coding languages, too. You may have heard of JavaScript, but others like Python, PHP, Ruby or C# are less well known.

Best coding toys for kids at a glance

  • Best coding playset: Coding Critters Bopper, Hip and Hop, £47
  • Best for use with a tablet: Osmo Coding Starter Kit, £39.62
  • Best for custom coding: Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot Activity Set, £67.94
  • Best for Harry Potter fans: Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, £142
  • Best for budding artists: Artie 3000, £75
  • Best for space fans: Learning Resources Space Rover Coding Activity Set, £65
  • Best coding board game: Galt Toys Cosmic Coding, £14.99
  • Best for learning how computers work: Turing Tumble, £65.40
  • Best for LEGO fans: LEGO 17101 Boost Creative Toolbox Robotics Kit, £295.84
  • Best for beginners: Code and Go Robot Mouse, £34.94

For most of these toys, it's not necessarily about learning one of these languages or actually building websites. Far from it. It's more about your child beginning to understand the building blocks of code, and how putting all the blocks in the correct order, usually logical thinking, results in actions happening as planned. For older children, it'll be a bit more advanced – like building robots and programming them to do things. Either way, it's good fun.

With the help of our child testers, parents and toy experts we've spent hours trialling all manner of coding toys to find out which hit the brief.

Here's our pick of the best coding toys for children, from preschoolers to preteens…

1. Coding Critters Bopper, Hip and Hop, £47

- Best coding playset

Coding Critters Bopper, Hip and Hop

Age: 4+ | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included).

More like this

A 22-piece playset, where you can use the arrows on 5cm-high Bopper the rabbit's back to programme a sequence of up to 30 steps. Includes 2 smaller bunny companions (Hip and Hop), a coding storybook with challenges to follow, 10 coding cards and accessories including a cart, swing, slide and carrot.

It's really nice to see a coding toy that doubles up as an interactive pet in its own right: we like how Boppy sings and dances and blows kisses when you put her in Play mode. The swing is a little flimsy perhaps but the coding challenges are fun, especially pulling the cart and making the tree stump pop up. Definitely needs a grown-up demoing the moves first, though.

Available at: Learning Resources and Amazon

2. Osmo Coding Starter Kit, £39.62

- Best for use with a tablet

Osmo Coding Starter Kit

Age: 5+ | Batteries: None (but designed to be used with a tablet)

A smart-tablet based coding kit that's all about using colourful magnetic coding blocks to control an on-screen character called Awbie, solve puzzles and create music. Comes with a base for iPad or FireTablet (be sure to order the kit that's compatible with your tablet), a 31-piece Tangible Coding Block set, stackable storage, a base for your tablet and access to 3 coding apps. You can buy more apps separately.

lt's pricey but all very well thought out and presented, with really clear instructions and a nice easy set-up (do build in some time to install the apps). And once you've got going, there's lots of matching, grouping, sorting and problem-solving fun, with plenty of subroutines and loop blocks. We particularly rate the Coding Jam game and like that there's a parent app that helps you keep track of your child's progress.

Available at: Amazon

3. Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot Activity Set, £67.94

- Best for custom coding

botley 2.0 the coding robot

Age: 5+ | Batteries: 5 x AAA (not included)

A brightly-coloured 13cm x 7cm mini robot, with 2 sets of detachable arms and light-up eyes, that you can program to move up to 150 steps in 6 directions, including avoiding objects, making sounds or going in a loop. Comes with 2 face plates, 40 coding cards, 6 boards, 27 obstacle building pieces and a starter guide with coding challenges.

This upgrade on last year's award-winning coding toy now has additional buttons, meaning Botley can move at different angles (creating more coding opportunities) and he now lights up and makes sounds. The remote control is a good chunky size for small hands, and the challenges are fun – you can make Botley spin round, move balls put on a light show and even take on the character of a frog or a dinosaur. Pricey but well worth it.

Available at: John Lewis and Amazon

4. Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, £142

- Best for Harry Potter fans

kano harry potter coding kit

Age: 6+ | Batteries: 4 x LR44 (included); also requires tablet

A build-it yourself wireless wand that allows youngsters to learn to code and perform wizarding spells alongside an app, which features more than 70 step-by-step creative challenges.

This teaches the principles of coding in such an exciting, accessible (and Harry Potter-themed) way. The box is beautifully presented, the instructions are child-friendly and clear, the wand has great battery life and good motion control, and the accompanying app is very well done – with 99 challenges (masses to do!) We like how you can see the block-based coding language on the side of the screen as you tackle each challenge – encouraging you to tweak the blocks to see what effect that has on your spells.

Available at: Amazon

5. Artie 3000, £75

- Best for budding artists

Learning Resources Artie

Age: 7+ | Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)

A 12cm-high coding robot that you can programme through your web browser and use to draw all sorts of shapes. It has 4 modes of play – pre-programmed shapes, games, art for colouring and freeform coding.

We really like how this cute robot uses drawing, shape-making – and even writing your child's name – to teach the basic ideas of coding and introduce several different coding languages. The instructions for set-up are clear and uncomplicated but it all works much better when linked to a laptop or desktop computer, rather than a tablet or smartphone. The pre-programmed codes are great, although you may find you need to hold the paper down to stop it moving as Artie draws.

Available at: John Lewis, Learning Resources and Amazon

6. Learning Resources Space Rover Coding Activity Set, £65

- Best for space fans

Space rover coding toy

Age: 4+ | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)

This set includes a small rover vehicle which can be programmed using a series of directional buttons to navigate a customisable maze of tiles and obstacles. It's designed to introduce younger children to the core ideas of coding in an interactive and tactile way.

This set is a wonderful way to bring the principals of coding to life for younger children. It's especially great for the budding astronomer in your life as it includes a range of fun space facts designed to offer additional play potential to an already rich and exciting experience. The pieces included - from the rover itself to the obstacles and cards - are all simple enough to act as an accessible introduction to coding while also having enough detail to remain engaging.

"This toy is brilliant. Just needs a few batteries and it's ready to go out of the box," said home tester Fiona. "It is easy to use, our 5 year old already has some coding experience, so was away straight away with this in knowing what to do - but our 2yo can also press the buttons and get it to move to her delight."

Available at: Amazon

7. Galt Toys Cosmic Coding, £14.99

- Best coding board game

Galt Toys Cosmic Coding

Age: 6+ | Batteries: None

A space-themed board game that introduces some coding concepts. The aim is to fly your rocket through space, collecting stars and avoiding black holes and aliens. Includes 4 plastic rocket counters, 36 movement cards, 20 star cards, 8 mission cards and guide. For 2 to 4 players.

It's a simple game to grasp and it's good to play, requiring both memory and strategy skills. The course of the play is determined by the movement cards (which your child may need help to read) which are written in a 'if this, then that' style – teaching you about following steps and logical thinking. Not as techy as the other toys in this list but good fun!

Available at: Amazon, John Lewis and Waterstones

8. Turing Tumble, £65.40

- Best for learning how computers work

Turing Tumble

Age: 8+ | Batteries: None

A project-based game where you solve logic puzzles by building a set of ramps, gears, gear bits and switches into mechanical computers, powered by marbles, that can do sums and generate patterns. Comes with board, stand, 40 marbles, 30 counterweights and 62 building pieces and a book of 60 challenges.

It's kind of an inventive, mathsy twist on a marble run/pinball game and it's both challenging and super-cool. And it definitely gets children thinking about how computers actually work). The pieces are quite small, so the builds require some fiddly-fingered patience, but the story-based challenges are well graded for difficulty, with plenty of helpful hints at beginner level.

Available at: Turing Tumble

9. LEGO 17101 Boost Creative Toolbox Robotics Kit, £295.84

- Best for LEGO fans

LEGO 17101 Boost Creative Toolbox Robotics Kit

Age: 7+ | Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)

An 847-piece LEGO set from which you can build 5 different multifunctional models, including a talking robot, cat, guitar and vehicle. Then you download the free LEGO Boost app which will allow you to programme and control your builds. Comes with LEGO Move Hub, Interactive Motor, a Colour and Distance Sensor, and instructions.

There's lots to do with this kit – there needs to be at that price! – and the way the models move is really thrilling. A far as the coding goes, the programme blocks are separated by colours based on type of command and so are very intuitive to work with. We like the walking, talking 27cm-tall robot who can pick up, grip and carry things, and we're impressed that the 42cm-long guitar has pitch bend and sound effects.

Available at: Amazon

10. Code and Go Robot Mouse, £34.94

- Best for beginners


Age: 5+ | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)

A bright blue 10cm-long mouse that comes with 30 tiles you can use to program a sequence. Once programming is complete, the mouse takes off and does as instructed. Comes with an activity guide.

It's bright and basic and a cute, tactile way to introduce a school-age child to the first concepts of sequencing and forward planning. And, compared to a lot of coding toys out there, it's a great price.

Available at: Amazon


About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've more top-rated, child-tested toys:


Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.