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Best Coding Robots for Kids – A Comparison

Coding Robots

If you’re looking for the best Coding Robots for kids to encourage your little geniuses to have a head-start on learning the basics of coding or you are ready to step up their coding capabilities, you are not alone. Undeniably, we are heading towards a future where technology and robotics are the way of life. Just like you, I want to equip my kids with that important skill. I’ve been searching for a best Coding Robot for my kids. There are tons of available options out there and it is overwhelming which one to choose.

After a couple of weeks researching, we bought Meccano Max for our 9yr old son, it feels & looks delicate with all the small screws, nuts, bolts, wires & parts used to assemble it. So whenever our 3year old holds it and attempts to play with it, I almost always wanting to jump to either help him hold it properly or take it all together from him to prevent him from dropping the robot & potentially breaks its hard wares.

During those moments I wish there’s uncomplicated and sturdy robot that suits my toddler’s needs and at the same time can withstand his ever-changing mood swings. Whenever he is grumpy, he throws his toys, steps on them, writes on them, and bangs on each other. When he is playful and happy, he hugs them tight right till he goes to bed, kiss them, and oh yes, he throws them, too! 

There are a lot of toys and robots suitable for a 3 year-old, I get it. However, being a practical and a penny-pincher mom of 2 boys, I want toys that are:

  1. Great learning tools to learn programming at an early age
  2. Made with durable components and sturdy construction.
    I’ve seen toys got broken by my boys within a couple of days of playing, for me that’s total waste money. It is equally important that there are no safety hazards, like those choking hazardous small nuts and bolts, to be around my 3 year old.
  3. Versatile enough to be suitable for both of my boys, aged 9 & 3 years old.
    Our toddler wants whatever toy his older brother is playing at the moment, which almost always ends up in a fight or the need for me to take the toy to stop the brawl. Versatility means more bang on my bucks since they are able to play with the robot longer.

With that in mind, I scoured the internet to find the best robots available out there that meets my 3 criteria. Here’s what I found:

Robo Wunderkind

Robo Wunderkind Starter kit

Robo Wunderkind emphasizes that using their robot, “Kids can follow along our visual instructions to unbox, build and code their first robot”. “So it’s easy for kids to understand and use without getting frustrated”. It doesn’t require a kid to know how to read first, because their robo code apps – Robo Code and Robo Live, only uses visual symbols, not words, using a drag and drop interface to program.

Building the robot, and rebuilding another, and another just takes snapping the color coded blocks together. As they build, the Robo code app continues to guide them. The blocks are color coded based on their functions, this way it is easier to remember which part does what action. Another great feature is that some parts are compatible with Lego building blocks so kids are able to create parts of the robot out of the Lego pieces. Sky is certainly the limit in imagining how their robot looks like.

Once they are happy with how their robot looks like, they can use programming using the Robo Code app to do things like play music, detect obstacles, drive, to move, make sounds, flash lights or even display images of your choice on a LED screen.

As kids learn and grow older, they will be ready to try more complicated configurations of their robots and Robo Wunderkind is ready for that as it can be torn down and built again creating a totally different looking robot again and again.

Order today on Robo Wunderkind website and use promo code “ENGENIUS” for a 10% discount and FREE shipping!

Or through Amazon below:

Pros

  • Great tool for kids to have a hands-on learning about programming as early as 5years old
  • Components are sturdy – no nuts and bolts to loose
  • Versatile Design. Parts can be assembled and disassembled with unlimited possibilities to create totally different Robot – from simple to complex configurations.
    Comes in 2 options: Starter kit (5 blocks & 12 parts) and Education Kit (8 blocks & 15 parts) with an option to upgrade into more parts through the Advance Upgrade kit.
  • Robot is compatible Lego blocks, which enables adding more parts into the robot.
  • Easy to use programming robo code apps – Robo Code and Robo Live

Cons

  • Has no Artificial Intelligence feature, like the other robots in the market. Cannot interact by talking. Doesn’t have personality on its own – no pre-programmed response on certain commands. However, robot can see, move, make sounds and react to the world around using sensors and motors. Using the Advanced Upgrade kit, robot can be programmed to show emotions displayed on the LED screen in the form of smiley faces and react accordingly as a response to specific events.
  • Having some connectivity issues between Apps & robot as it sometimes drops which creates frustration in controlling the robot.

Botley the coding Robot

Botley the Coding Robot

Learning Resources prides themselves to offer a robot that is capable to teach coding to kids as young as 5 years old that is totally screen-free but can still grow with the kids. A smart phone or tablet is not required to control Botley. Instead, a basic but colorful remote programmer is utilized. It is a basic robot designed mostly for beginners as it can be coded from basic few steps up to 120 steps, doing some loops, moving around objects, setting a path to travel using the black-line follow mode. It can detect objects and avoiding them and even take on an obstacle course after programming him exactly what to do step-by-step.

Package includes 1 Botley, 1 remote programmer, 77-piece activity set which includes 40 coding cards, detachable robot arms, 27 interactive obstacle building pieces, 6 double-sided tiles and a starter guide with coding games and some accessories.

Pros

  • Great learning tool for younger children to learn the basics of coding using physical coding cards and coding games
  • Promotes physical engagement by setting up travel paths and obstacles
  • Durable material and sturdy construction
  • No assembly required. Ready to use out of the box
  • Totally screen-free. No smart devices or apps upgrade required to control Botley
  • No downtime charging Botley. It utilizes 5 AAA batteries (3 AAA for Botley and 2 AAA for the remote programmer) and can operate continuously for hours

Cons

  • No personality of its own. He does not speak, just creates some reaction noises
  • Applicable for age 5-8 years old only. Kids older than 8 years will find it relatively boring after a couple times of play
  • There’s no way to customize Botley’s looks

Thames and Kosmos Kids First Coding & Robotics

Thames and Kosmos package consists of 410-piece experiment kit and a 64-pages manual story-based coding lesson, which can be programmed screen-free, without the use of smart phone or tablet. This experiment kit teaches basic coding principles and skills while building the story’s characters: Sammy, a cute little peanut butter and jelly sandwich robot; Ham, the hamburger; Franky, the hotdog sandwich; Arty, the penguin; Tucker, the turtle; a fire truck and a whole lot more characters using a colorful, well-laid out step-by-step story broken down into 30 coding lessons

Coding can be done by laying down a sequence of code cards. Sammy is equipped with an OID optical scanner that reads the code cards one by one and loads the program as it move over the code cards you set in sequence. Sammy can then run the loaded program after placing him on a grid made of map cards.

It also have a Math Lesson mode where you can program the robot the same way but the goal is to solve specific Math problem.

It can also be programmed to move in different directions, respond to function cards, play sounds, lights up its LED lights and activate its integrated output gear, which enables the programmer to build simple robotic actions, like picking up stuff.

This coding kit is best for children 4 – 8 years old or a classroom setting where an adult can supervise or read the story lines to make the play more interesting. There are 6 different story lines to choose from, so each session can have a different story to tell.

Pros

  • Great learning tool for younger children to learn the basics of coding and math problem solving
  • Parts can be assembled and disassembled by snapping pieces together, just like Lego pieces, to create several characters in the story
  • Totally screen-free. No need for app or software upgrades or any smart device
  • No downtime charging Sammy. It utilizes 3 AA batteries

Cons

  • No personality of its own
  • Assembly is required with some adult guidance, especially for kids 4-6 years old
  • Children under 6 year old may find the manual confusing and boring as it involves lots of text-instructions
  • Building the characters and set-up takes a long time
  • Grid maps where Sammy travels over to scan code are made up of cardboard, which takes up a lot of space and gets bent easily. Once bent, map pieces won’t stay intact.
  • Has small parts that pose choking hazards to kids under 3 years old
  • Packaging lacks organization making it hard to find necessary piece to complete a task based on the lessons. Also more chance to loose parts

Wonder Workshop Dash And Dot

Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot

Dash & Dot robots are shipped as-is, no assembly required but are sold separately or as a Wonder Pack. Dash can last up to 5-hours of active play and 30 hours standby time after fully charging for 1-hour. A lot of accessories available to extend the play possibilities with Dash, this includes Sketch Kit, launcher, a Dash-ing look bunny ears and a tail, xylophone, bulldozer bar, activity cards and in app projects. Basic package includes 1 Dash robot, 1 USB charging cord and 2 building brick connectors, which enables the Lego blocks pieces to be snapped on Dash to transform it into anything that comes into mind.

Dash is capable of responding to voices and sounds, thanks to its awesome features, like voice-detection, ten 5-second clips sound recording, IR emitters, object detection, robot detection, precision motors, head movements, volume control, accelerometer, gyroscope, programmable LEDs, block-based and state-machine coding, capability to save and share programs

Dot has voice detection, ten 5-second clips sound recording, volume control, IR emitters, accelerometer, programmable LEDs, block-based and state-machine coding, capability to save and share programs.

Pros

  • Great learning tool for kids 6 years old and up to learn coding skills. Comes with free easy to use apps used to program movements, reactions and voice commands.
    • Wonder App is a picture-based coding language to create detailed behavior for Dash
    • Blockly App is used for advanced concepts of coding utilizing puzzles and playful projects
    • Go App is for controlling Dash’s lights, sounds, sensors and movements
    • Path App introduces the fundamentals of robotics and coding to children and kids
  • Great way to collaborate with friends through its capability to save and share the program created.
  • Dash has awesome personality. The pre-programmed interactive challenges and customizable ten 5-second clips voice recording makes it fun and entertaining to interact with.
  • No assembly required. Dash & Dot comes pre-charged and ready to rock!
  • Very nice design with sturdy material and solid construction – no nuts & bolts to loose, no moving parts (except for the head & wheels) to break
  • Dash can be programmed at any skill level and progress to higher level as your child grows and develops confidence in coding.

Cons

  • Dash & Dot’s looks is unchangeable. Parts cannot be attached nor detached to create very own robot based on imagination using the basic package. However, several accessories are available to be purchased separately to transform Dash into anything you want, but this means extra cost.
  • Possible issues can arise about apps’ compatibility with device. Be sure to check the apps’ compatibility with your device. There are devices, like the 2017 Nexus 7 and 2015 Fire 7 can only connect to one robot at a time. Only OS with android 6.0 and above can connect to two or more robots at a time.
  • Utilizing 5 apps to control/configure one robot can be confusing and frustrating, especially with upgrades/updates required.
  • Encounters some blue-tooth connectivity issues
  • Some units were reported to have battery issues – could not hold charge after period of use.

Cozmo robot by anki

Cozmo Robot By Anki

Cozmo robot is wittingly described as a robot with “Big brain Bigger personality” by its manufacturer, Anki.  Using Cozmo Code Lab, kids can explore, control and create their Cozmo using programming. It has three coding platforms that caters for all levels of experience: To get started with coding, Sandbox is used as the beginner platform. To take your skills to the next level, there comes Constructor, the intermediate platform. Lastly, for advanced coders, the Python SDK is used to access Cozmo’s full capabilities.

Anki prides itself about the fact that Cozmo is always updating since 2016 to date, with 35+ App update & feature release, 1027+ personality and character upgrades and 35+ mini games added.

Cozmo comes as Classic Cozmo, Collector’s edition and Limited Edition, showcasing different body color but exactly the same design. Basic package includes 1 Cozmo robot, 3 Cubes, and 1 charger (USB power adapter not included).

As with any app, there might be some compatibility issue that may arise with Cozmo app, as Anki, Inc advises, “If your device cannot find and download a particular Anki app from an official app store, this means that your device does not support that Anki product.”

Pros

  • Great learning tool for kids to learn coding skills, using the drag and drop coding blocks on the Cozmo app.
  • He is known for his witty personality – “curiously smart and a little mischievous” pre-loaded with characters, tricks and games.
  • Has artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced facial recognition software, which makes interaction a lot more realistic. He can recognize faces and learn peoples’ names, and even pets. His abilities and skills develop with more interaction.
  • No assembly required. Cozmo can be powered up right out of the box.
  • Made up with durable parts that were drop-tested and built to last.
  • Cozmo carrying case available. This means it is easier to take Cozmo with you while keeping it and all his accessories safe.

Cons

  • Robot looks is unchangeable. Parts cannot be attached nor detached to create very own robot based on imagination. However, Cozmo can be customized by putting on different colored Tread – Osmosis Blue, Luminous Lime, New Dawn Yellow and Crimson Flame, which are sold separately.
  • Has connectivity issues with some device. Be sure to check apps compatibility wit your device before purchase.
  • Some units were reported to have battery issues – unable to hold charge, shuts off randomly.
  • Very small in size

MakeBlock Codey Rocky

MakeBlock Codey Rocky

RobotShop is confident that their MakeBlock Codey Rocky Robot can provide a great learning experience of programming for kids aged 6 years and up while being entertained. This robot is a combination of Codey, the controller and Rocky, the chassis. Codey can be used alone mainly for teaching tasks as it is equipped with different sensors, like sound sensor, light sensor and volume sensor and a programmable main control with the following features: LED matrix screen, loudspeaker, RGB light, buttons, gear potentiometer, gyroscope and accelerometer, IR transmitter and IR receiver. Its utilizes easy to use block-based programming software mBlock 5, which supports Artificial Intelligence-functionality and Internet of Things-functionality

Rocky, on the other hand, acts as hands and feet capable to perform a lot of tasks when attached with Codey. It is equipped with IR color sensor, DC geared motor.

Package includes 1 Codey, 1 Rocky, 1 Lanyard, 1 Micro USB data cable, 8 Codey Rocky Color Card and 1 Name Sticker.

Pros

  • Great learning tool for kids 6+ years old to learn coding skills, using the mBlock 5 app to control Codey and Rocky, a drag and drop coding interface utilizing scratch 3.0 and is capable to switch to python for more advanced programming.
  • No assembly required. Ready to use out of the box.
  • Has its own personality equipped with AI functions including face and voice recognition learning.
  • Durable material and sturdy construction
  • Has built in Wi-fi connectivity to send and receive data, on top of its Bluetooth connectivity.
  • It is compatible with lego blocks to extend Codey Rockey design and improve its over-all looks.
  • Quick start guides PDF files are available to download in the RobotShop website.

Cons

  • Robot looks is not versatile and unappealing to the eye. Colors are very neutral – just black and white with no other colors as options. However, snapping Lego blocks on Rockey might actually break the neutral color.

Summary

In an effort to be as objective as possible, I have used a point system, 1 to be the lowest and 10 the highest per criteria, to rank the coding robots based on my three criteria: 1) Great learning tools to learn programming 2) Made with durable components and sturdy construction 3) Versatile enough to be suitable for both of my boys, aged 9 & 3 years old. Plus two more criteria: Price and other cool features.  

After adding the scores from each 5 criteria, Makeblock Codey Rocky garnered the highest score at 46 points, followed by Cozmo Robot by Anki, Robo Wunderkind on the third spot, Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot comes fourth, Botley the Coding Robot comes next and lastly, Thames and Kosmos having 31 points.

Conclusion

It really pays off to do research on things we would invest on, especially on things we introduce to our precious ones, aside from the fact that they are not that cheap. It is very easy to just go with the flow and buy the most advertised, typically the most expensive trending toy. But there are toys out in the market with features and quality equal or better than the most bought toy with a lower price tag. This is exactly the case for Makeblock Codey Rocky compared to the infamous Cozmo Robot by Anki. Do you agree?

Moreover, I understand that each family’s needs is unique. I hope to make your research a lot easier.

Which coding robot suits your family’s needs? Please share your thoughts below!

Posted in 3 - 6 years, 7 - 12 years, Robotics

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2 Comments

  1. Jen

    This is such a great set of robots and very informative. My son is 2 years old now and I will be looking for toys like this soon to start teaching him about STEM and robotics. I think the earlier we start them the better because they get a head start on learning about these things that are pretty much taking over the world. Thanks so much for sharing this, I now have an idea of what to look for when shopping.

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