Our kids are growing up in a world where so many of the objects in our daily lives do what we tell them to do. Introducing kids to robotics changes the conversation from “what does this thing do?” to “how can I make it do xyz?”. You’ll put them in the driver’s seat, encourage problem-solving, and plant the seed that STEM isn’t just a subject at school, but an invitation to reimagine the world around us by tapping into human potential. Here are some of our favorite kits that offer numerous possibilities for learning while playing.

Cute and educational: Wonder Workshop Dash

Connect Via Bluetooth

A mono-eyeballed toy that’s adorable, not scary. Amazon

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Dash, the more advanced robot of Wonder Workshop’s pair of Dot and Dash, is a fantastic example of a toy whose capabilities grow as your child learns. Kids can get the room zooming around right out of the box, make it sing and dance, and even record messages in their own voice for it to use. There are multiple free apps you can download that are designed to get them excited about the basics of coding their new friend, including a picture-based language for your youngest engineer. Dash comes with two building block connectors compatible with Legos to spark imaginative modifications to its form, and you can add multiple accessories (like a xylophone) to keep kids interested as their skills increase.

Magically fun: UBTECH Unicornbot

No Tools Needed

Like a droid version of your child’s favorite friendly pony. Amazon

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Robots don’t have to look like sci-fi stereotypes of metallic parts assembled into gleaming hulks of machinery. With this mythical creature, your fantasy-obsessed kid can find their way to STEM through the lens of magic. Download the Jimu app to find 3D instructions for your child to build their unicorn, choose from pre-programmed commands, or program their own using simple blocks to code. But don’t stop there—they can add their new friend to an augmented reality game using their device’s camera, or reconfigure the unicorn into a creature of their own design.

Nearly 1,000 pieces: LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor Building Set

Features A Rechargeable Battery

America’s favorite building blocks with a little extra oomph. Amazon

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If your child already plays with Legos, bringing them to life using robotics will be a real thrill. There are five figures you can build with the components of this massive kit, from muscular fighters to snake- and scorpion-like creatures. These robots are all about action—they smash, throw, whir, walk, and talk. Use the infrared remote to control their escapades, or tap into advanced programming features using the company’s free EV3 software. Perhaps best of all, this kit is compatible with all Legos for endless creative and storytelling options.