Having your very own robot is now no longer a space-age dream and both kids, parents and IT teachers, will fall in love with this tiny ball of fun. It not only has lots of impressive talents and tricks for playtime, easily keeping young minds enthralled and entertained, but offers huge educational benefits too as children create with code as they play. The app-enabled robot ball has an eye-catching shiny 8×8 light matrix which can be programmed for an endless array of coding and gaming capabilities. Impress friends by navigating BOLT through an obstacle course, using advanced sensors to track speed and direction or, thanks to the compass, simply drive him around. Use him as a controller with the selection of arcade-style games included and the infrared communication also allows your robot to “talk” to other BOLTS to learn new games and advanced coding tactics. He’s a little tough guy too with a durable shell that will withstand being thrown around a bit by the kids, he is a ball after all, and with a full two hours of playtime after being charged he’ll be able to keep up with the most active and enthusiastic of players. Sphero’s latest, and most advanced, robot isn’t going to be the cheapest toy in Santa’s sack at £149.99, however the price tag is reasonable compared to other robot toys on the market and this super smart toy really is a fantastic way to introduce children to, and get them interested in coding. Available now from Sphero.com, Apple, Amazon, Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis. Age recommendation 8+
LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit
-A REAL MARVEL
What little kid (and big kid) hasn’t imagined becoming a real-life superhero and with this ingenious creation, worthy of coming straight from Stark Industries, you can make all their dreams come true. Start your superhero training with your favourite Marvel Avenger, Iron Man, Black Panther and Shuri, or Ant-Man and the Wasp, and use block coding and STEAM skills to become a new Avenger, by building and controlling your unique super powers. Code your own individual hero icon on the LED Matrix Bit and customise the high-tech hero gear using a smart device, unleashing their imagination and creative talents to save the world. What will they need to beat the evil villains threatening Earth? Night vision to see in the dark? Speed tracking to test their super human speed?
We opted for the Iron Man arm and it really looks like a serious piece of superhero kit, just like from the movie series, that would impress any child. Using the step-by-step instructions on the app, we added various electronic building blocks (there are nine in total) such as the sound effect Bit to play various very authentic Iron Man repulsor blaster noises, the button Bit to create a dazzling light display of colour across the LED matrix Bit hand mount which sits at the top of the gauntlet and the Bluetooth low energy Bit to connect our circuit to our smart device. There are over 18 activities to try out via the Marvel comic-style app which is great fun to use. Our favourites were using the clever accelerometer Bit to change the light rainbow patterns on the LED matrix Bit as we did our best superhero poses, recording our own awesome custom superhero sounds which can then be triggered with a unique hero move and sending secret messages like, “Avengers Assemble” to the LED matrix. The age recommendation is 8+ and no grown-ups are needed to help assemble. We absolutely loved this and have no doubt that it will feature at the top of many Christmas wish lists this year. Available now from Amazon and Argos, RRP £149.99.
Rocketbook Colour Notebook
Budding artists and creative kids will adore this endlessly reusable smart drawing pad which means no more searching for paper ever again! Make your masterpiece with Crayola Dry-Erase pencils or crayons, then simply take a snap of your artwork and save it in a cloud service, such as iCloud or Google Drive, with the Rocketbook App where it will remain safe to be treasured forever. Safely stored you can print off whenever you like, or send on to family and friends. The pages can then be wiped clean with the dry cloth to be used over and over again. If you are parent who has ever felt guilty for not holding on to every piece of art produced by your little Picasso this is a wonderful space-on-the-fridge-saving solution. RRP £19.99
Playbrush Smart Sonic
Along with eating more vegetables, getting kids to brush their teeth for a full two minutes is right up there on the list of toughest parenting challenges. A huge welcome to the Playbrush which (as its name suggests) makes a fun time and game of cleaning kids’ teeth. Instead of having to pester your little people into the bathroom, they won’t be able to wait and will be asking you when it’s time to use their Playbrush again. The interactive electric toothbrush connects via Bluetooth to game apps so children can fight monsters, paint or even make music with their tooth-brushing movements. Notices on the app warn if you are brushing too hard, or not brushing for long enough, as you play and encourages brushing all around the mouth, increasing their clean coverage. Suitable for use from age three upwards, the child’s tooth-brushing quality, duration and progress is also recorded over time across all the games meaning parents can discover where a little more attention is needed. S4K’s verdict? It works! Enthralled by gameplay our little knight, who usually only manages 30 seconds without encouragement, was still happily brushing away after two full minutes, trying to defeat the monsters. The Playbrush Smart Sonic costs £29.99 from Playbrush.comand includes one Playbrush Smart Sonic, one brush head, one charging dock and four free games. Additional games and brush heads are available via subscription from £3.99.