10 of the best coding toys for toddlers to 10 year olds

From a caterpillar for 3-year-olds to robots, mice and mini computers, we reveal the best toys to help give your child an early and fun education in coding

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MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices. 

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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.

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 results in actions happening. 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…

1. Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, £79.99 – best for Harry Potter fans

Age: 6+

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Tech/Coding Toy – Gold

What it is:  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.

Why we love it: This innovative product is sure to delight any Harry Potter fan and keep them amused for hours. Once it has been put together and coded, you can wave your wand and see instant effects on the screen of your tablet or laptop – make feathers fly, pumpkins grow or goblets multiply! The huge multitude of challenges included on the app means that your children won’t get bored and we really love how interactive and engaging the whole thing is.

MFM Deputy Editor Helen says, “This teaches the principles of coding in such an exciting, accessible way. The box is beautifully presented, the wand has great battery life and good motion control, and the accompanying app is very well done – with 99 challenges (masses to do!) I 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. Impressive!”

Lindsay, mum to Ava, 8, says: “This is a brilliant bit of kit for kids to learn all about coding while also having fun and playing games. It was easy to set up and Ava did this by reading the instructions all by herself – no help from me was needed! The challenges are a bit tricky but once they get the hang of them they won’t need any assistance.”

Available from: Amazon and Apple

2. Artie 3000, £69. – best for beginner programmers

Age: 7+

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Tech/Coding Toy – Silver

What it is:  A coding robot that you can program through your computer and use to draw all sorts of shapes. It has 4 modes of play – pre-programmed shapes, games, art for colouring and freeform coding.

Why we love it: This cute robot is a great way to introduce children to the idea of coding and we love how it uses creativity and artistic skills alongside computer learning. It’s easy to use and code and kids will feel a real sense of achievement when they see their designs come to life.

MFM tester Sonali, mum to Theo, says: “If your child is interested in robotics and coding, Artie is a great beginner programming toy. You can get him to draw all sorts of things – and even work out how to get him to write your name.”

Some kids may prefer to play with robots that can move around obstacles or make sounds (such as the Botley or Robo Wunderkind), but if you have a creative child this will definitely tick the right box.

Available from: John Lewis, Learning Resources and Amazon

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3. Robo Wunderkind, £159 – best for Lego fans

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Tech/Coding Toy – Bronze

What it is:  A STEM robotics kit that allows children to build their own robots and program them to move, using 17 different parts. Also compatible with Lego.

Why we love it: This colourful bundle has been cleverly designed and has plenty of thoughtful features – we love the fact it’s compatible with Lego and that the robots can move, make sounds and flash lights.

It will see your child through a good few years too, as you can create a robot that’s as complex or simple as you like (depending on your little one’s skill level) – and the two different intuitive apps that you download alongside the toy are perfectly pitched for different age groups. The parts are also durable and robust – ideal for youngsters!

MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor Christy says, “This has lots of great functions to help kids learn, and is quite easy to use. I really like the fact you have two apps for different ages – great for siblings to share.”

It is fairly expensive (at about double the price of the Harry Potter wand) but it will bring hours of joy.

Available from: Amazon

4. Power Tracks, £29.99 -best for teaching patience

Age: 5+

What it is:  A kit that teaches the first steps of coding and circuit building with the help of the very cute Volty the robot. You connect up the large tabletop tiles to make 1 of 20 circuits (or design your own), and then program Volty’s directional buttons to make it navigate around it. Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It doesn’t look as flash (or cost as much) as some of the other coding toys on this list (such as the Robo Wunderkind or Cozmo) but it really delivers. It’s easy to set up, fun to play and teaches patience, problem solving and the power of persistence.

MFM tester Lindsey, mum to Thomas, 5, says: “This is way better than I expected it to be. Thomas finds it exciting and fascinating, although he needs a little help. He loves Volty the robot’s dance when he completes the track. Coding is what my husband does as part of his job and this really brought dad and son together. I couldn’t have wished for a better toy!”

Available from: Crafty Arts and Amazon

5. Botley The Coding Robot Activity Set, £79 – best for teaching sequencing

Age: 5 to 9

What it is: A brightly-coloured mini robot, with detachable arms, that you can program to move up to 80 steps: left, right, backwards, forwards, even avoiding objects, making sounds or going in a loop. Comes with 40 coding cards, 6 boards, stickers and accessories/activities to incorporate into the sequence. Requires 3x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: Our testers loved Botley’s friendly face – and how he can move objects with his arms and smash through a wall of blocks. And there’s plenty of sequencing steps in the set to keep a child busy for a good long time (up to 80, in fact!).

MFM tester Sarah, mum to Dottie, 6, says: “This is a fantastic toy and the accessories provide endless fun. Dottie took to it straightaway – and Dad was transfixed!” The coding cards are also a thoughtful addition which can help younger kids get to grips with the idea.

It’s not the cheapest toy on this list – (the Code and Go Robot Mouse is only a third of this price, for example) – but our testers agreed that it will be something that’s played with for many years as your child grows.

Look out for the fun hidden features you can discover too – you can make Botley say hi or even feel dizzy!

Available from: Learning Resources, John Lewis and Amazon

6. Mind Designer, £49.99 – best for siblings to play with together

Age: 5+

What it is: A robot that responds to voice commands and can be programmed (ether manually or via a free app) to draw, move round a board – and chase people. Requires 4AA batteries (check if included).

Why we love it: With his chunky wheels and clear, domed head, this is such a friendly looking coding toy – and the drawing function is great fun. MFM child tester Erin, 6, says: “It’s good that it can talk and it has different settings. It can draw and I can make it chase my little brother around!

The mat makes the robot talk, and you change its setting and put it on Smart Game, so you can’t go over the lasers. I’m going to make some obstacles for it to go round too.”

We like the fact this combines multiple features – it can draw (like Artie 300), move around the room (like robotos such as Botley) – and so much more! The fact it can respond to your voice sets it aside from the rest too.

Available at: Amazon and Crafty Arts

7. Computer Kit Complete, £149.99 – best for computer-obsessed children

Age: 6+

What it is: A build-it-yourself laptop, coupled with a crash course on coding. You end up with a fully working computer that includes a Raspberry Pi-3, 10.1” HD screen, speaker, wireless keyboard, sound sensor and battery. Comes with an easy-to-follow storybook.

Why we love it: It looks very cool, builds very smoothly and the instructions are brilliantly clear and child-friendly – and not at all only-geeks-need-apply-offputting. It’s ideal for kids aged 7+ and the construction side of it should keep them busy for at least 30 minutes, while using it can keep them entertained for hours.

It will even show you how to hack Minecraft! It offers a different kind of fun to the traditional robot coding toy (such as Botley or Cozmo) and is quite unique in its offering.

The price is at the upper end of the scale, but so many of these coding toys are because of the technology that goes into them.

Available at: Amazon and Kano

8. Anki Cozmo, £179 – best for a cool design

Age: 6+

What it is: A 12cm x 19cm x 25cm robot with forklift-y arms and amazingly expressive eyes. Once connected to the free Cozmo app (iPhone and Android compatible), he’ll recognise your face, say your name, and ask to play games. Over time, he gradually unlocks more abilities and allows some simple coding. Comes with charger and 3 interactive power cubes that he – and you – can incorporate into his games. Batteries included.

Why we love it: Cozmo has SO much personality. He’s pleased to see you when he ‘wakes’, snores as he powers down and celebrates when he wins a game – or throws a tantrum if you beat him too often!

He won Gold in our 2017 Toy Awards, with our child testers particularly loving how he recognises faces – even the family pet.

This is one of the more expensive robot toys included on the list (Mind Designer is only £49.99, for example, and Botley is only £79) but it does have lots of great features.

Available from: Smyths and Amazon

9. Fisher-Price Code-a-pillar, £54.99 – best for little ones

Age: 3 +

What it is: This toy helps kids learn to code by planning and sequencing. Once Code-a-pillar’s parts have been put together – in whatever order (or direction) your little one decides, it’ll then do a little dance, twist, turn, move forward, backwards or play music as programmed. Requires 4AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: Watching ‘pillar move in line with your sequence is very satisfying, but we also just like how cutely Code-a-pillar lights up and plays nice jingly music.

There aren’t a lot of coding toys suitable for toddlers (as this list shows) and it’s great that this is aimed for the 3+ market, rather than those aged 5 and up.

It’s much more simple than the likes of Cozmo or Botley robots but great for teaching sequencing skills.

Available from: Amazon and Very

10. Code and Go Robot Mouse, £25.99 – best for those on a budget

Age: 5+

What it is: A bright blue 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. Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: We like the busy little mouse design: a cute, tactile way to introduce your child to the concepts of sequencing and forward planning. The great thing about this is it’s so well priced for this market.

A lot of coding toys are priced at £50 plus, with some (like the Computer Kit or Cozmo robot) at more than £100, which seems a lot for a toy you’re not sure your child will like. At only £25 this is a great product to test the water with.

Available from: Bright Minds

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