This blog is all about toys, and one of my favourite types of toys today falls under the heading of Smart Toys & Robotics. Smart toys include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) toys, STEAM toys (the same as STEM toys, except with an “A” for Arts), and various other toys that make use of special apps and other computer technology to make the experience of play both fun and educational. If you want to give the kids in your life toys that will not only provide them with and hours hours of entertainment, but will also help to educate them in a number of key subject areas, today’s article is for you. Read on!
First up on my list today is the Jimu Robot AstroBot: Cosmo Kit. I’ve tested and reviewed a couple of Jimu build kits in the past and really enjoyed them. It wasn’t this particular kit (which is described as a space-faring robot), but they all have the same play DNA when it comes to how they work. You basically assemble all the pieces into the particular build you want to make (like LEGO), and included servo motors allow for movement of the finished build. Simply use the app to control what the robot does. And if this kit is anything like the Jimu kits I’ve tried, the app also has excellent step-by-step build instructions to walk you through the assembly process. Cool! This toy is perfect for kids ages 8-12, but those over 40 may also enjoy it!
Another item on my list—and one of my personal favourite toys to come out in the past couple of years, is the Intelino Smart Train Starter Set. This train, which I reviewed here on the blog right when it first came out, is also both fun and educational in the area of STEM learning. Basically what it is is a 2-car train set for kids ages 3 and up. It’s intended to serve as their first train set, and it has educational benefits related to coding and programming.
The set comes with all the track pieces that you first assemble yourself (by yourself I mean either kids or their parents—as younger kids may not be able to do it themselves at first). There are a few different track configurations to choose from, a ton of colourful tiles that may be placed anywhere at all on the track to create colour-coded command code, and the Intelino App to bring it all together into a big bundle of fun. For more details on this one, I suggest reading my review that’s linked above.
For those with kids in the 5-12 age range that also happen to own an iPad, the Osmo Coding Starter Kit for iPad is a great example of a fun and educational toy. This kit actually features a variety of bits and pieces that come together to form 3 cool game apps that kids will love to play. The games include Coding Awbie, Coding Duo, and Coding Jam, which together help kids to develop an interest in computer coding while also nurturing their creative and cognitive abilities.
For instance, in Coding Awbie kids are tasked with helping Awbie (a cute and hungry monster on your iPad screen) with finding and eating as many strawberries as he can. They do this by using special coding tiles (blocks) with instructions on them that tell Awbie what to do (whether to turn left, turn right, go straight, etc.).
By stringing more and more of these coding blocks together in sequence, kids can make Awbie go on bigger strawberry-eating adventures (they see everything right there on the screen, even though the blocks are on the table in front of them). In the process, they’re also learning all about building computer coding algorithms that will help them to understand coding better when they get older and encounter it in school, a job, wherever!
In other words, this kit helps kids to develop computational thinking skills that could benefit them significantly later on in life. It’s a great kit that teaches kids something useful while all they think they’re doing is having fun!
Another item I wanted to discuss today is the DJI RoboMaster S1 Educational Robot. This one, however, is for an older cohort of kids (those ages 14 and up). As this is a rather more complex robot than even the Jimu set discussed above (for instance, it features advanced tech like a 2-axis mechanical gimbal and programmable AI – artificial intelligence), I’ll direct you to my previous Best Buy Blog review of the product for most of the key details.
However, by way of a quick summary of some of what this thing can do, it has 119 robotic bits and pieces that kids/adults assemble themselves into a ground-based roving robot (drone) that can drive around via remote control and perform all kinds of cool tricks and maneuvers. For instance, it can drive perfectly both straight and sideways thanks to its specially designed tires. It can also shoot little water beads (pellets) as part of a combat game against others of its own kind. And it even has a built-in laser tag type of game that it can play. When it comes to highly advanced fun and educational toys, the DJI RoboMaster S1 is it!
Finally, let’s consider the latest version of the popular MiP robot. This new version, appropriate for kids ages 6 and up, is called the WowWee MiP Arcade Robot, and he’s back with more features than ever before. He still has self-balancing capabilities, GestureSense technology, and Bluetooth connectivity for use with your smart phone or tablet.
He also includes classic MiP accessories like his tray attachment for carrying things, and he even has a hoop attachment and 3 mini basketballs for kids to shoot baskets as MiP dodges about in front of them. But, best of all, MiP now has video games built into his app!! That’s right, MiP’s special Arcade App has more than 20 built-in brain training games that are both fun for kids to play and will also test their memory and reflexes. There are even multiplayer games so they can challenge their friends for neighbourhood bragging rights!
My colleague Shelly Wutke recently reviewed MiP Arcade right here on the blog. Check out that review for even more cool MiP details and to see Shelly’s video review.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of cool imaginative toys available at Best Buy. Whether your goal is to just keep your kids entertained—or to provide them with a valuable learning experience, these toys do it all! Discover all the fun and educational Toys a child could ever want at Best Buy Canada today!