5 cool Christmas gift ideas for children learning to code

14 Nov 2016

Christmas gifts. Image: Guschenkova/Shutterstock

Knowledge of coding will soon become something of a prerequisite in many fields of work. So why not start kids off young? Coding gifts for Christmas are the way to go.

The countdown to Christmas is already upon us, with the difficulties behind buying people presents getting more difficult every year.

However, once you settle on a theme, things can get easier. So, if you’re buying for children who you suspect might enjoy learning how to code – the language of tomorrow – then Siliconrepublic.com has your back.

Future Human

Christmas gifts

The options for coding are extensive, with regular classes becoming more and more popular all over the world. However, sometimes getting something done at home is what feels right.

Here, we’ve found five fun options for this Christmas:

CoderDojo book

CoderDojo’s success is primarily down to two things: it’s a remarkably accessible and easy activity for children to learn how to code, and it’s everywhere.

The organisation has grown to more than 900 separate dojos around the world, in 63 different countries, taking in the likes of Uganda, Uzbekistan and Madagascar as three of the newer locations.

However if, for some reason, the nearest dojo seems inaccessible to you and your children, help is at hand. CoderDojo recently released their first fun handbook for young people.

CoderDojo Christmas Gifts

It costs £10 on Amazon.

Egmont Publishing – which is behind a Minecraft book series – partnered with CoderDojo to get the first edition onto the shelves. The entire set supports children as they take their first steps to creating their own website; learning to code using JavaScript, HTML and CSS as well as modding games.

CoderDojo’s growth has been remarkable. Beginning back in 2011 with a modest school project, they have grown considerably; big enough to make a celebrity-endorsed impact at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. 


Kano is one of the more interesting companies providing tools and toys for children to learn how to code. Its computer kit (€159.99 at the moment), for example, is an entire computer, in a box. Children learn to build it and code it from relative scratch.

The kit comes with a manual that’s very easy to read. All the parts are explained and users learn how and why certain connections are made and what they do.

From there, simply “boot it up”, and learn how to code. It uses Python, Javascript and Unix commands, with its challenge-based lessons letting children learn bit by bit.

It delivers in around two weeks so, for Christmas, this would need to be ordered pretty soon.

The company is bringing out a camera kit, recently funding it through Kickstarter, but it will be a little too late for this Christmas.


Claiming to be the most crowdfunded ed-tech project in Kickstarter history, Cubetto secured $1.6m when it ran earlier this year. Visually appealing to children, the smiling cube can be programmed to complete basic tasks – working under the logical base that underpins coding.

Accepting commands of forward, left, right and function, children (aged 3+) can complete routes with Cubetto. At $225, it’s on the more expensive side of the scale, but its branding and make-up is very child-friendly.

SAM Labs

Slightly more creative, SAM Labs provides a bit of a broader project for kids to mess around with. A full internet of things toolkit, it requires no previous knowledge of coding to tinker around with and develop interconnected networks – teaching users how everything works.

The SAM kit consists of a series of Bluetooth-activated building blocks that are all controlled from a companion app. All the pieces fit into Lego, too.

Depending on the type of kit the user gets, it contains a series of blocks that house switches, buttons and lights, while the more advanced kits contain things like servo motors for creating basic robots.

The app provides a drag and drop tool for users to easily set commands, each time being presented with the coding behind a move; explaining the whys and the whats.

At €169/£149, the ‘curious kit’ lets children program cars to complete various courses, choose speeds and more.

Dash and Vortex

One of the cuter suggestions on this list is also one of the more expensive. The one-eyed, talking robot Dash (and sister bot Dot) pair with Android and iOS devices to help teach kids (5+) coding skills.

Responding to light and sound, and sensing objects, the devices must be programmed to interact with the world around them.

Dash Christmas gift

The problem is probably the cost, though. Dash, for example, costs $149.99 but, after adding in taxes and shipping (it’s free within the US and Canada), the price hits a whopping $254.48.

A cheaper alternative is Vortex, coming in at $99 and doing much the same. Delivery is far more affordable, with free shipping included on many purchases.

Vortex Christmas gifts

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic