10 High-Tech Toys for STEAM-Savvy Kids
Jimu Robot Meebot Kit
Not your average toy! Made by high-end robotics company Ubtech, Jimu uses cutting-edge technology and five impressive "robotic servo" motors to follow your child’s commands. Kids start by building the bot with help from the app’s 3-D, animated instructions (free; iOS and Android). Then they can make him walk, pick up objects, control light and more while learning basic coding concepts to writing their own programs. Ages 8 and up, $82; amazon.com.
Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar
Preschoolers can learn early programming skills while this wiggly worm works his way across the floor! As little ones rearrange the pieces in the Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar's tail to create new “codes” for him to follow, they practice sequencing, problem solving, and critical thinking along the way. How many tries does it take to get him around that sofa? Or through a maze of blocks? Ages 3 to 6, $65; amazon.com.
Rule Your Room Kit
Watch as your child transforms the kit’s buzzer, dimmer, power board, and more into eight cool inventions that can make her room the envy of the house. Budding engineers can spook out friends with posters that suddenly jump off the wall, or create an alarm that sounds if anyone tries to swipe their piggy bank (think twice, little bro!). All the pieces in the Rule Your Room Kit are reusable, so kids can invent and reinvent to their imagination’s content. Ages 8 and up, $76; amazon.com.
Why hand over your tablet all the time when the kids can use one built just for them? This 7-inch gadget known as Nabi Se, from Mattel’s tech line, comes loaded with more than 100 apps. We especially love their Wings Learning System, which offers educational games that adapt to your child’s abilities and also align with Common Core standards. And kids will love the Dream Pro Studio for making movies and writing stories. Extra bonuses: parental controls to help you better manage screen time and a really durable construction. Ages 6 and up, $90; amazon.com.
Storytelling skills go digital with this custom video-game-making set. Just slot the colored cubes into a grid to create different characters and scenes, take a photo using the camera function in the toy’s iOS or Android app, and—voilà!—a game is born. With Bloxels, players can then get to work running, jumping, and exploring in a virtual world of their imagination. Ages 8 and up, $21; amazon.com.
Just roll with it: This robotic ball zips across the floor showing off all its skills. Not only can little programmers use the toy’s app to drive it around and change the color, they can also access a step-by-step system to “teach” the Sphero SPRK+ to navigate a maze, dance to a specific beat, and more. The iOS and Android app also includes tons of user-generated projects that inspire kids to use the robot for everything from art projects (program it to roll in paint and then draw different objects) to building toys (it makes a great wheel for a car). Ages 8 and up, $80-$119, amazon.com.
4M KidzLabs Weather Lab Science Kit
Kids can build a mini weather station to learn about weather patterns and climate change through experimentation. Whether your little one is a budding meteorologist or just likes when it rains, the 4M KidzLabs Weather Lab Science Kit will spark their curiosity. Experiments teach kids about static electricity, let them form clouds in their hands, and see air currents that produce wind. Ages 8 and up, $55; amazon.com.
Osmo Genius Kit
Pop an iPad into the toy’s base and add the reflector camera up top. With the Osmo Genius Kit, players then choose one of four app-based games that will teach about tangrams, words, physics, and drawing. We especially love that the tangrams and word games are played through interaction with real-world pieces—seamlessly combining classic activities with a high-tech learning device! (And the fact that it’s beautifully designed doesn’t hurt, either.) Ages 5 and up, $70; amazon.com.
Stikbot Studio Pro
Kids are sure to stick with this! In the Stikbot Zanimation Studio, figures with suction-cupped feet and hands can go anywhere they like, thanks to an included green-screen stage and a special stop-motion animation app, which is available on both Android and iOS. Moviemakers upload their own photos or use included backdrops, add extra props and toys from home, then stick their bots anywhere the story takes them. The app snaps individual photos and stitches them together into a video. Once they add music and sound effects, the mini films might even be Sundance-worthy! Ages 4 and up, $30; amazon.com.
Klutz Grow Your Own Crystal Mini Worlds Science & Activity Kit
The perfect gender-inclusive entry into STEAM activities, this kit lets kids grow their own crystal unicorns, dragons, foxes, and narwhals. Each Grow Your Own Crystal Mini Worlds kit includes easy to follow instructions and supplies to create three different crystal worlds that your kids can later keep to decorate their rooms. Adult supervision required, $12, amazon.com.