Kids do love them some robots, even the littlest kids. My 2-year-old son, for example, demands, “Daddy! Watch robots!” on my laptop (specifically Jack Conte’s insane DIY music video for “Pedals” and Keepon dancing to Spoon’s “Don’t You Evah“). So I’m shopping for robots this year and the Shed’s got ‘em — check out these four super easy kits suitable for kids younger than 10.
Four Fun Robot Kits the Kids Can Build!
Simple Robots from Junk
Many’s the tot who has found the box more interesting than the gift inside. So what could be better than robots made from a cardboard box or a soda can? There’s no real “robotic” behavior, but you make it and motorize it and it goes, and that’s a great first experience for your budding roboticist.
Get the Box Robot and repurpose the box to make the robot’s body — you can decorate it any way you want, then add the wheels, face, and motor to make it go. No soldering required, so it’s fun to make even with little ones. Bonus — when the box is destroyed, as it soon will be, just get another box and draw a new robot on it. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Get it from the Maker Shed here.
The Tin Can Robot is a similar idea, but with a soda can — shiny metal! — and it can be made in two different versions, a silly walker or a monster. (It’s like they *know* my kid.) Recommended for ages 8 and up. Get it here at the Maker Shed. Or get both and have an epic Battle of the Blue Recycling Bin.
Easy Obstacle-Avoiding Robots
One of the simplest true robotic behaviors is obstacle avoidance, and these two bots can do it.
The inexpensive and cubically cuddly Obstacle Avoiding Robot Kit from Japan’s Artec Educational is built from thick paper parts in just a half hour. Bump sensors (tiny limit switches) on both sides of the body detect when the robot has run into an object, triggering the bot to run in a different direction. These are super fun to turn loose on the floor and watch them pinball around the house. Get it here.
More robust and equally fun is the obstacle-avoiding Big Bad Beetlebot Kit, with a cool-looking bugbot form and a clever reversal of the limit switches: the bug’s antennae act as the bump sensors, and they each cross over to the switch on the opposite side of the bug. No soldering, just a screwdriver is needed. No microcontrollers, ICs, or transistors are used — just the two switches cleverly wired together form the brains of this robot that has been featured as a popular MAKE magazine project. Get yours from the Maker Shed while they last!
And that’s just the beginning of our robot kits. Move up to building BrushBots, Solar Robots, and Cubelets kits for bigger kids, and work your way up to the powerful Rovera Arduino Robot, Propeller Activity Bot, and Multiplo Robot Building Kits for your engineer-in-training.
See all of our Shed picks here.