7 Kid-Friendly DIY Robots That Take Less Than a Day to Build
Nope, your kids don't have to be able to program Sophia the robot or assemble motor parts from the ground up to call themselves robot enthusiasts.
There are numerous fun and simple robots that can kick-start their robotics journey. This article will explore the best ones available in 2023, with a focus on robot kits that promise quick and enjoyable learning experiences.
But first, let's see what are some reasons that explain why learning robotics is beneficial, especially in today's tech-centric world.
Why should you get your kid interested in robotics?
If so, you're not alone.
According to post-COVID research by the University of Tehran, a concerning 53% of children report feeling addicted to their phones.
Data from: BMC Pediatrics
Because of that, parents often look for ways to engage children at home with fulfilling, beneficial, and fun activities, and robotics happens to be one such field.
Here are some benefits you can expect from DIY robotics projects:
Developing creativity and problem-solving skills by designing robots that perform all sorts of tasks. Can you code your robot to run in circles? Will you glue some cardboard to it and transform it into a fierce dragon? There are so many options!
Getting into visual/graphical programming by using blocks to code robots that follow instructions. This experience prepares kids for more advanced coding projects in the future.
Improving fine motor skills by tinkering with robot components and sensors. Building robot kits requires precision and attention to detail, helping your child develop dexterity and hand–eye coordination.
Exploring the principles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by building robots that apply these concepts to real life. Kids can learn about computer science, physics, and mechanics as they create robots, making their learning experiences relatable.
Now, we can't exactly expect younger children to complete robotics projects on the level of Boston Dynamics, no matter how cool it would be to have Spot doing backflips around the house.
Image source: IoT World Today
However, crafting a simple robot is completely doable, especially with a robotics kit as a guide.
So, to reap the benefits that we've mentioned above, you don't have to build industrial robots from zero. Robot kits offer the same advantages, while simultaneously making it more accessible for beginners to dive into the fun world of robotics.
How to build a DIY robot for kids with a robotics kit?
DIY robot projects may seem like a breeze—just put the pieces together, right? Well, not so fast!
Just like any creative venture, there are some important rules and steps to follow in robot building. Let's quickly review what they are so that your child can start building with confidence.
Always put safety first, especially when dealing with soldering and electricity. Make sure your child has the right protective gear and offer adult supervision when necessary.
Follow the instructions carefully
It's all about taking things one step at a time. Encourage your child to follow the kit instructions closely, and remind them that it's okay to go at their own pace. If there's a problem, the robot instructions almost always have good troubleshooting suggestions.
Ask questions to learn
Questions are the gateway to knowledge! Encourage your kids to ask away, whether it's about the kit, electronics, programming, or anything else. As their knowledge increases, you're also likely to see a boost in their confidence.
Take your time
Remind your kids that there's no need to rush. Taking their time not only helps them learn, but also allows them to savor the joy of completing a robotic project they can be proud of.
7 Best DIY robotics kits for kids of all ages
Okay, now that you know what to watch out for, let's see a list of the best robotics kits for everyone from beginners to advanced programmers.
Get your tools, set up your Raspberry Pi; it's time to create and control your very own robot!
#1 Build an RC robot car with a robot kit
If you're looking for a fun and easy way to get your kids interested in robotics, building a remote-controlled robot car is an accessible entry point.
One of the most popular robot car kits is the Smart Robot Car Kit from AZ-Delivery.
Image source: AZ Delivery
This robot kit is suitable for kids aged 10 and above, and it requires some basic soldering and wiring skills. These skills will develop further as your child assembles the components.
Note that if your kids catch the robotics bug, they'll want to tinker with Arduino at one point or another.
So, if you're already planning on getting one, this Arduino-compatible robotic project is an excellent choice. It relies on an Arduino board and Arduino IDE software to upload the code to the robot car, which is a great way to explore the intersection of technology and creativity.
Building this robot will also teach your kids about hardware as they dive into assembling and understanding various components from the kit, such as wheels, a DC motor, an expansion board, and more.
Image source: AZ Delivery
Once the robot car is ready, your kids will have a blast driving it around, showing the tangible results of their efforts.
Different features and modes, such as obstacle avoidance and line following, add an extra layer of fun to this kit.
#2 Make Armstrong—a DIY robotic arm from scratch
The next robotic project on our list goes beyond the wheels and into the realm of manipulation and control.
Don't worry! We're talking about Armstrong, a DIY robotic arm.
With Armstrong, your future engineer will have the opportunity to create a fully functional robotic arm from scratch.
The build process isn't only a fun experience, but it's also a fantastic educational journey. It introduces children to mechanics, electronics, and programming, all bundled into a single, awe-inspiring project.
Armstrong is equipped with four servo motors, a TFT LCD display, and a reflective color sensor, among other components that enable your child to create a DIY robot arm.
These elements allow you to construct a robot that can recognize colors and pick up objects. And if your little one is into beginner-friendly programming languages, they'll be able to program custom, more complex routines.
However, this version breaks complexity into manageable steps, allowing your child to build the robot in a day.
When they're done, they'll have a miniature robotic arm at their command, a technology often seen in the world of industrial automation where such arms perform tasks with precision and consistency, making them a vital part of modern manufacturing.
In this broader perspective, it's clear that STEM toys like this one certainly have a significant role in developing critical skills for the future.
#3 Make a solar-powered robot
Not all budding engineers are necessarily interested in gaining programming experience. Some are into mechanics, electronics, chemistry, or using their STEM skills to help the environment.
If your kid falls into the last category, you might want to check out M4's Green Science Aqua Robot.
Image source: Amazon
This robot kit lets you build a robot fish that can swim and paddle on the water's surface using solar power or battery power.
You can take your Aqua Robot outside on a sunny day and watch it come to life when the sunlight shines on its solar cells. The other option is to switch to battery mode when there is no sunlight and enjoy playing with your Aqua Robot indoors.
This kit teaches kids about the principles of green science and hybrid solar power, and how they can be used to create eco-friendly robots.
Image source: 4M
This project falls into the category of simple robots as it requires no software programming or handling sensors or other delicate materials. In fact, Aqua Robot's simplicity makes it suitable for kids as young as five and above.
All you need to do is follow the instructions and use the materials provided in the kit, such as plastic parts, wires, solar panel, and screws.
So, although the process of assembling this beginner-friendly robot kit is quite straightforward, younger children can still enjoy a fun educational experience. They can learn about how solar cells convert light into electricity, and how gears transfer power.
And since there's no programming involved, this is a completely screen-free activity—a quality that parents are always excited about.
#4 Build an AI-powered robot
For parents looking to take their child's robotics journey to the next level, the RoboMaster S1 by DJI is an exciting choice. Developed by the same company known for its drones, DJI has combined innovative technology with hands-on learning to create this advanced robot kit.
Image source: Drone Nerds
The S1 robot can be programmed to use artificial intelligence to follow you around, shoot "laser" beams (that are actually little flashes of colored light), recognize movements with cameras and sensors, and more.
Since these features require software and programming skills that are beyond the entry-level, this robot kit is suitable for older children aged 14 and above.
Still, this robot kit supports Python and Scratch programming, meaning that you can rely on block coding if needed.
Image source: DrDrone
The S1 robot is not only a smart device, but also a fun and versatile one. You can control your robot with your smartphone or tablet, and enjoy playing various games with other S1 robots.
That's another helpful aspect if you have a child who enjoys competitive activities.
To play games with other users, you'll need to download the RoboMaster App. Different systems and platforms aren't an issue because the robot is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows, and it lets users with different systems play together.
#5 Construct Makeblock mBot
Another excellent robot kit comes from Makeblock. Their mBot is an approachable way to introduce programming to younger children because of its beginner-friendly programming interface.
Image source: Makeblock
Equipped with two motors and four sensors, this bot boasts obstacle avoidance and line following, and it can even solve mazes.
You can also connect it to Raspberry Pi and code it to move in patterns you've programmed.
This Makeblock robot kit is suitable for kids aged 8 and above. Beginners can use the manual and more materials to learn about the bot, and follow instructions based on games to get acquainted with programming.
Image source: Makeblock
What sets this robotics kit apart from others is its customizability.
You can purchase different add ons and transform the basic version of the robot into a cat robot, six-legged bot, and toy around with add ons such as cameras or light and sound components.
Suddenly, a robot with the line-following ability becomes a tiny explorer on a quest, or a roving photographer capturing the world through its "eyes."
So, if you're willing to pay a bit more, you can create more opportunities for creative play and inventive activities with DIY robotics kits.
#6 Assemble a LEGO robot
If your kids are into building with LEGO and are drawn to other creative engineering activities, then they'll be glad to assemble their own LEGO robot with their little hands.
There are many LEGO kits available, but one of the most popular ones is the LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox. One of the most fun projects that you can do with the kit is building Vernie the robot, who can talk, drive, and dance.
Image source: LEGO
However, this LEGO robot kit offers even more possibilities. The kit, which includes as many as 847 pieces, lets you assemble five different robots with unique abilities and personalities.
Other than Vernie the robot, you can build Frankie the cat, who can purr and avoid obstacles; M.T.R.4, who can carry and stack objects; Guitar 4000, who can play music and sound effects; and Auto Builder, who can build miniature LEGO models.
Image source: LEGO
In other words, purchasing one robot kit allows you to engage your child with hours of building, programming, and imaginative play.
To build and control robots, you'll need to use the free LEGO BOOST App. You can use it to, for instance, program Vernie and equip it with the line following ability. Additionally, the BOOST App regularly adds new challenges and coding options, keeping your child's interest alive.
In terms of the programming environment, the LEGO BOOST Toolbox uses a simple drag-and-drop programming interface based on Scratch, making this robot kit appropriate for seven to twelve year olds.
Now, the idea of building five different robots may seem a bit too complex, but you don't have to worry.
The joy of making robots is guaranteed because the kit and additional resources provide clear instructions, along with all the tools and materials that you need. You don't have to run to your local hardware shop for cardboard, metal parts, or needle nose pliers; you have all the equipment in the set.
#7 Meet Wacky Robots
Lastly, if you're looking for powerful yet simple robotics kits that are suitable for children ages nine and above, you should try out Wacky Robots.
These compact robots won't take too much of your time, but they'll provide your child with a delightful intro to robotics. They strike a perfect balance between simplicity and functionality, making learning both accessible and enjoyable.
Besides, who could resist toying around with such cute creations?
Note that we said robots, not robot.
That's because Wacky Robots is a series of small but mighty robots that you can also get as a subscription.
So, why settle for a one-off robot when you can get a new robotics project each month?
Delving into the world of Wacky Robots opens the door to a variety of learning opportunities. Exploring these robotics kits will teach your kid the basics of sound synthesis, LEDs, circuits, and more.
Wacky Robots are made of fine components that your child has to assemble.
This is the perfect opportunity to develop fine motor skills by using needle nose pliers, and of course, your little one's fingers.
Kids can also learn about the science behind each robot, such as how photoresistors detect light or how capacitors store energy.
In other words, these wacky robotics kits can help you turn robotics and electronics into a long-term hobby.
Some of the Wacky Robots that you can build are:
Bob: Bob is a colorful LED robot that can display different patterns and colors on its body.
Artemis: Artemis is a running-light circuit robot that can create a cool visual effect with its LEDs.
Dusty: Dusty is a light-sensitive robot that can detect light with its photoresistors.
Hertz: Hertz is a Bluetooth speaker robot that loves to party and play music.
There are more Wacky Robots to discover, each with different abilities. However, all of them have one thing in common: their mission is to entertain your kids and educate them about robotics.
CircuitMess kits help your kids make their own robots
Until your kids are ready to independently choose sensors, wires, and the right motor, robotics kits serve as a fantastic starting point for robot building.
The robot kits that we've listed offer a structured educational path, gradually introducing kids to the essential components and concepts of robotics while keeping the process engaging.
Remember, when selecting a robot kit, you should keep your kid's interests in mind. For example, if you're a parent to a little environmentalist, you could go with a robot kit that explores renewable sources of energy.
If your children are showing interest in electronics and technology, then it's better to choose those kits that allow them to assemble and program their own robot projects, such as CircuitMess kits.
Our kits provide kids with hands-on experience in robotics and coding, which is an excellent, if not the best, way to spark your kid's curiosity and creativity while having fun.
So, let the robotics adventure begin!