Introducing computer coding as part of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculums is an important part of every child’s education. But with the complexity and fast-pace of today’s technological advances, it’s easy for parents to worry how they can instill a love of coding without having specialized training.

While a scientific background certainly doesn’t hurt as you support your child with school projects, all you need to help kids start is hands-on activities that build problem-solving skills, inspire them to ask questions, and provide them with tools to find the answers. The latest coding kits for kids meet them (and you) where they are with a playful balance of games, puzzles, and tangible creations that easily fit into day-to-day life.

Hands-On Introduction

Physical pieces give children literal building blocks with accompanying musical sounds. Play solo or with multiple players. Osmo

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A simple distillation of what it means to code is programming a step-by-step way to get from here to there. Choosing a kit that has a mix of basic coding terms and puzzles focused on process—without requiring a computer—makes it simple for beginners to grasp concepts in a tactile and straightforward fashion. Also look for a variety of activities per kit to stave off boredom in kids with limited attention spans.

Build a Cool Machine

Comprehensive set of electronic parts to help kids assemble a futuristic vehicle they can send flying across the living room with a smartphone or tablet. Tutorial included. ELEGOO

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If you or someone in your household has some experience with circuit boards and controllers to build interactive digital devices (like Arduino), consider a kid’s coding kit that uses these tools for a specific project. When they’re introduced to nuts, bolts, wires, and sensors in the context of a toy robot, it’s far less daunting than endless possibilities for tinkering. (Those can come later.)

Smartphone Integration

Drag-and-drop graphics from an app allow aspiring engineers to grasp computer language basics while they direct a personable digi-friend to follow lines, change colors, and play music. Robobloq

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Consider coding kits that blend a kid-friendly approach to programming languages with a customizable physical project—like the ability to drag-and-drop code on a mobile app. With a confidence-boosting foundation, they’ll be more likely to lead the way on what to build next.