Growing up in a world that is filled with highly sophisticated computers is not easy. But since children will be required to work with them on a daily basis it is essential for them to understand how they work. Luckily there are several great computers for kids available that can help with taking the first steps in the digital world.
In this post I have taken the effort to present five great products that provide children with an educational and easy to understand computer system. All of these systems are currently on the market and available in a wide range of countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
This Raspberry Pi minicomputer based laptop is the dream of every explorer in the digital world. The Pi-Top is a kit that allows kids to build their very own computer from scratch. The kit comes with all the hardware components and software to get started. The content that’s included thereby explains on a step by step basis how to connect what with what and teaches the basics of programming as well. Once finished Pi-Top can be used as a fully fledged laptop PC.
Pi-Top originally started as a project on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The project gained a lot of interest from educators and parents alike, eventually making it reach 192,685 USD in funding by December 2014. The Pi-Top starter kit, called the Pi-TopCEED currently sells for 114,99 USD.
Pros: All the hardware, software and guides are included to get started with computers.
Cons: Younger children might find it quite daunting to create a complete PC by themselves.
Kano Computer Kit
In stead of a laptop-style computer, Kano has developed an educational computer kit that takes a more desktop-style approach. The Kano Computer Kit comes with a number of components that can be turned into a keyboard that can be connected with a monitor, subsequently turning it into a fully fledged desktop PC. Kano comes with extensive content that explains how to build the computer step by step. Aside that, the system also comes with extensive learning resources to take the first steps in the world of programming.
Similar to Pi-Top, Kano started as a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, where the project received 1,522,160 USD in funding to lift it from the ground. The Kano starter kit is currently available for 149.99 USD.
Pros: All the hardware, software and guides are included and the material is presented in a fun and child-friendly way.
Cons: The kit is relatively expensive and an external standard PC monitor will be required to use the computer.
VTech Pre-School laptop
Since not every child will be ready to start building their own computer, VTech has developed several noteworthy computers for preschoolers. One of those systems is the VTech Pre-School laptop. This simplified child-friendly laptop introduces children with the concept of the keyboard and mouse and comes with 30 educational activities, including math and memory activities.
The laptop has been designed for 3 to 6 year olds and currently sells for 18.99 GPB.
Pros: Very affordable and an easy to start with solution. Parents will not be required to provide assistance.
Cons: It does not operate like an actual real-life PC and teaches few about computer science.
Arduino Starter Kit
Arduino develops open source computer hardware and software and has introduced an easy to follow started kit that will help children get started with computer science. The so called Genuino Starter Kit comes with a main computer board and several sensors. The included starter book helps guide through each and every step to create several simple devices.
In comparison to the kits that have been mentioned so far the Genuino Starter Kit takes takes a bigger focus on the underlying electronics and the installment of peripherals, in stead of how to construct a PC and how to program. The kit currently sells for 79.90 euro.
Pros: It teaches about the fundamentals of electronics and comes with a fun and child-friendly guide.
Cons: The kit will be too difficult for young children.
Since every child likes to play with LEGO, a fun alternative for the abstract hardware and software offered by other providers is WeDo 2.0. This LEGO Education set comes with familiar LEGO bricks and a pack of motorized components and sensors. The included classroom material thereby provides children with a wide range of topics that teach them how to take on design and programming challenges.
The core set currently sells for 120.99 euro and comes with a total of 280 parts.
Pros: The set comes with familiar LEGO bricks and everything to get started is included.
Cons: The set focuses more on robotics and less on the fundamentals of computing.