It’s the most wonderful time of the year and magic is in the air! It’s also the time of year when parents, family and friends struggle to pick out the perfect gifts.
That’s why we scoured the web, searching far and wide to pull together this list of awesome, but inspiringly educational, tech gifts. It not only saves you the hassle of searching, but also means you can find a gift with purpose, one that’ll introduce your loved ones to a new skill, or perhaps help them to develop new lifelong interests!
So, if you need some last minute shopping ideas, here are our top picks for Christmas 2017:
Why we love it: The Tech Will Save Us Gamer Kit is the perfect present for kids who love video games. This wonderful console allows you to code your own games and comes with simple instructions. With over 15 retro games available to create, this is the perfect mix of video gaming and learning.
This kit is exactly what we wish we had as kids. The ability to create and play your own games is not only incredibly fun, but gives you a real sense of achievement. Once you’ve mastered the games included in the instructions, you can go on to invent and create your own. There’s also a multitude of projects online, with new ones released every week, meaning if you aren’t quite ready to create your own games just yet, there’s always more to look into.
Why we love it: Say hello to Cozmo, a gifted little guy with a mind of his own. He’s a real-life robot like you’ve only seen in movies, with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He’ll nudge you to play and keep you constantly surprised. Cozmo’s your accomplice in a crazy amount of fun.
Everyone loves robots, right? Cozmo is a self proclaimed ‘supercomputer on treads’ and he definitely lives up to that. Although he may not be the biggest robot you’ve ever seen, he sure packs a punch. With a drag and drop code lab for programming beginners, to a more advanced software development kit, you really can explore a world of experiences with him.
Why we love it: This kit isn’t just about learning to code. Before you can do that, you get to build your own computer - which is awesome. Building your computer step by step gives you great insight into the components needed and gives you a feeling of accomplishment every time you turn it on.
Why we love it: We remember how excited we were when the original Raspberry Pi was released - a tiny, super cheap computer that helps teach programming and computer science principles with infinite use possibilities. In its latest iteration, the Raspberry Pi 3 boasts more components and computing power, including bluetooth and wireless connectivity, meaning even more functionality straight out of the box.
For kids (and adults!) of all ages with an interest in learning about computers and coding, a Raspberry Pi kit is perhaps one of our favourite gifts to give. Various re-sellers around the web offer pre-packaged kits that will teach you to turn your Pi into miniature arcade gaming cabinets, hidden cameras, tiny controllable robots and more!
Why we love it: The BBC micro:bit is the perfect way for kids to start coding and making. Designed with the BBC for kids ages 11 and up, the micro:bit gets them hands-on with hardware while also teaching creative problem-solving skills.
Similarly to the Raspberry Pi, the BBC micro:bit is one of our favourite tech gifts. It’s affordable for everyone, has tonnes of free online resources and can be used to make all sorts of cool stuff! Our friends at Tech Will Save Us and Pimoroni offer a bunch of different resource packs that help turn the micro:bit into different types of robots and vehicles, or to use craft materials to interact with technology - fusing the physical and the digital.
Why we love it: Puzzlets is a physical bluetooth accessory for your tablet or computer used to play Puzzlets-specific games. Each game focuses on a traditionally “challenging” STEAM subject, such as coding, math, or color theory.
Half of the games are played on a screen while the other half are played on the Puzzlets play tray, creating a perfect balance of the digital and the real world. Allowing children to continue learning away from the screen is what made Puzzlets catch our eyes.
Why we love it: So many kids dream of becoming an astronaut one day, going on a journey into space and exploring the world above us, but it’s never as easy to do as you hope! Which is why this kit is so brilliant. Not only do you learn how to code and programme, but you get to learn the sensors that are sent into Orbit on Spire CubeSats.
Providing beginner level experiments makes this the perfect kit to start your programming journey. Once you’re more comfortable with what you’ve learnt, the possibilities are endless with what you can create.
Why we love it: With coding becoming a more vital aspect of future jobs, it’s always best to kids start learning early, and this is exactly what Dash&Dot does. From learning how to make your Robot sing and dance to the hundreds of puzzles, challenges and projects available to choose from, Dash&Dot covers all bases.
You can download apps to go with your Dash&Dot that will help your kids learn all about coding and the different ways they can go about it. You can also purchase awesome accessories to go along with your robots - such as turning them into a projectile-launching machine (not as dangerous as it sounds - honest).
Who wouldn’t love that?
Why we love it: The Evo bot, a first-of- its kind smart and social robot, empowers gamers and learners to better connect, explore, collaborate, and share at home, in the classroom, and on-the- go. A pocket-sized coding robot with proximity and optical sensors, a built-in speaker, and Bluetooth® Smart capability, Evo comes to life with the push of a button.
What makes the Ozobot different, is the ability to control it with a marker pen and stickers - simply draw lines for your bot to follow using sensors. You can also program the Ozobot using OzoBlocky, which helps incorporate learning the programming with a device that some kids may prefer to do. With over 20 STEM activities included, this is the perfect present for your little heroes!
Why we love it: The fact that these games are award winning already gives you an idea of how great they are. The Osmo genius kit transforms your iPad into 5 smart games to help your child with different aspects of their development.
These aren’t your typical iPad games however, as they all come with tiles and pieces for children to use whilst playing the games. This is what made this kit stand out to us as it creates a fun way to learn coding while introducing a new aspect to playing games on your iPad.
Why we love it: From learning how to master morse code to creating alarms, this kit has some amazing projects to create (sorry parents, they all create noise). You’ll receive 4 SAM blocks in your kit along with 5 step by step projects. Using the SAM Space app allows you to create and master these products with ease.
That’s not all though - once you’ve mastered your first set of projects, there’s many more to be found online at the SAMLabs website. With loads of awesome features, this kit is definitely a must have!
Why we love it: Star Wars and video games rolled into one...need we explain any more? Not only will your kids get to play these retro, pixelated Star Wars games, they get to actually create them! Yes, this is the present you’re looking for.
Let imaginations run wild as they create their own corner of the Star Wars universe before playing missions featuring iconic characters from the movies. More still, when you create new missions and games you can share them online for other players to use. Bloxels highly encourage this worldwide collaboration between players and have some amazing creations readily available.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your little troopers a Bloxels kit for Christmas, and may the force be with you!
Why we love it: How many robots can you create with 6 cubelets? Over 500!! We bet you weren’t expecting that?
That’s what makes Cubelets so awesome. The pack comes with 6 different Cubelets that all have various functions such as drive, flashlight and battery. Using the Cubelets app, with its simple drag and drop interface, kids can learn about the world of programming and create hundreds of variations of their own robots. With additional add-on Cubelets, you can create even more versions and discover a world of possibility.
Why we love it: Meet M.A.X., a 12-inch tall advanced robot packed with a multitude of fun, educational features. Designed for budding engineers and tinkerers aged 10 years and older, this robot-building kit offers a challenging yet rewarding build consisting of 332 parts. Once he’s assembled, M.A.X. functions as a friendly robot companion and personal assistant. He engages kids in conversation, learns from every interaction, remembers important dates, and more.
M.A.X. even features a built-in gaming platform whilst customisable programming allows kids to personalise M.A.X. to meet their own specifications so that every assembled M.A.X. robot is truly one of a kind.
Why we love it: Teach your children to build and program their own robot with the K'NEX Education Robotics Building System Set. This kit provides enough K’NEX parts to create 9 different robots with all sorts of different functionalities - and that's without bringing your imagination into the mix to create new combinations.
The kit contains all sorts of motors, sensors and doo-dahs to learn programming and robotics principles, and then continue on to learn more advanced concepts making this kit an excellent gift for all ages, and something that will stand the test of time and grow with them.
Why we love it: Ideal as a gift for aspiring engineers, boost your LEGO building experience by building and customising Vernie, your own personal talking robot friend. Code its behaviour and complete fun activities with the included play mat or speak to Vernie and it will respond with facial expressions that reflect its mood. Vernie can move in all directions at variable speed on its large tracks, see objects and colours, sense distance, grip and carry accessories, make hand gestures and launch darts from its shoulder mounted shooter, making for an impressive array of abilities you can program to perform different functions.
Rebuild Vernie to create the M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4), Guitar4000, Frankie the Cat or the auto builder, all controlled via your tablet with the free downloadable app that also includes digital LEGO building instructions for all five models, plus cool activities and ideas to spark your imagination.
Why we love it: With the Cubetto being created for ages 3 and up, it really is a perfect beginner toy to introduce kids to coding.
The super simple user interface mixed with the playful programming language really does make for an amazing toy. Using blocks of different colours/shapes, you can set up a ‘queue’ of instructions for your Cubetto to follow and explore all the new ways in which you can control your toy. This is an awesome toy to help get younger children into programming!
Why we love it: This is the perfect kit for children who love art and creativity. Not only do you get to learn programming, you also get to build and decorate your robot.
With no need to use any apps or websites to code your robot, this is also a great kit for parents who like to keep their kids screen time at a minimum. Programming is done with the amazing programming blocks and helps kids learn all the concepts of coding and creating sequences.
Why we love it: With a brilliant app to help kids learn programming, undertake hands on activities and share your creations, the Sphero SPRK+ is a seriously cool robot.
The ability to create mazes for your Sphero, program paintings, swim on water or race your friends means that you can have endless fun thanks to Sphero. What’s more, with a scratch resistant UV coating, you can rest assured that your kids won’t go breaking it easily.
Why we love it: Friendship bracelets have been reinvented beautifully for the 21st century by JewelBots. Allowing you to set up your bracelets to flash your chosen color when you and your friends are together, send secret messages or even make games, these are the friendship bracelets all children will love!
Don’t forget that these are still an amazing tool to help learn programming. You can master coding your JewelBot, share it with your friends and help each other out - making the perfect way to learn while having fun.
Why we love it: The pi-top isn’t your standard laptop - it’s the perfect laptop for all those little inventors out there. With a beautifully designed sliding keyboard, you reveal your built in modular rail where you can build and test out your own creations.
As you build your inventions, the pi-top will help walk you through how to create the code behind it. Whether you want to make music or create a smart robot, you can have endless fun with the pi-top and become an expert in programming amazing inventions in no time.
Why we love it: Ah, pocket money, the most exciting thing when you’re a kid. We remember heading out to wash the cars every weekend in exchange for enough change to fill the piggy bank. Would you believe us if we said it just got more exciting?
goHenry is a prepaid card for your children that puts you in control. From setting spending rules for where it can be used, to the amount that can be spent at once, you really are in control. What makes this stand out even more to us, is the ability to set chores for your kids to earn extra cash, notifications to keep up to date and in general, have total control while also allowing your kids to feel like a grown up with their own card. Plus, if they’re really lucky, you can pay a one-off fee to get a custom designed card with whatever they want on it. Adults don’t even get that!
Oh, and we forgot, you can also block and unblock cards if your kids misbehave…(sorry kids)
Why we love it: The Neurosky headset is a perfect representation of how amazing technology in the 21st century really is. Created to help improve focus and relaxation, this headset really is revolutionary.
Using the headset with the attached Zip and the Misty Mountain iPad game, kids have to use their focus and concentration to control the characters. Not only is it a fun game for kids to play, it can help your brain retrain to focus more and displays attentive zones and focus meters so you can see how focussed and relaxed they are while playing and what areas they can improve further in.
Why we love it: The Coji Robot isn’t just a robot. No, this is the awesome emoji robot! What could be more fun than learning how to code using the language of emojis?
Using the supporting app, kids learn coding by problem solving and using emojis to control the actions of their Coji Robot. This is a fantastic introduction to the world of coding for younger children and will definitely provide them with endless fun.
Why we love it: Do you have some budding little musicians in your family? Do you enjoy making music yourself? The LittleBits Synth Kit is definitely the must have musical coding toy.
This is definitely one of the best musical toys available. Allowing children to learn the science of sound and combine it with making their own music is what made this kit stand out to us. You can even create your own musical instruments with the Synth Kit, some examples of this are the key-tar and a synth spin table, both of which you can see over on the LittleBits website.
We know that this one is going to be a favourite among a lot of adults too.
So, that’s the end of our favourite educational and tech gifts for Christmas 2017. Hopefully it’s opened your eyes to the wonderful array of choices out there, and inspired you with some ideas for gifts to support the budding coders, robotics experts and technologists of the future!
Anything you’ve spotted that you think deserves to be on our list? Drop a comment below and we’ll take a look - after all, there’s still a few weeks to go until the big day.