I have seen a lot of robots used to teach programming recently. I would like to buy one for my kids but there is just too many and I have a hard time weighting the pros/cons of each! What criteria to use? Is there a definite best? Wheels vs arms vs legs...? Visual or text based programming?
I am mostly interested in practical experiences and the feeling you had using them/watching your kids use them. My kids are 8 and 14.
Open-ended: Whether a simple set of building blocks or a codable robot, the toys can be played with, disassembled, reassembled, and interacted with in a variety of ways. Many of the games have no single solution and require the players to collaborate. These qualities spur kids toward creativity, exploration, and a deeper understanding of rules, patterns, logic, and how things work.
Accessible: Best toys that won't require extensive adult help or supervision. The toys don't force kids to follow a specific set of instructions, but rather encourage play through experimentation, exploration, and trial and error.
Replayable: Most of the toys and games can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, either because they offer different modes or difficulty levels, or because they allow increasingly complex interactions as the player builds skills. This means kids of multiple ages can play together and that a toy can grow with a kid.
Fun: The fourth criteria, less easy to quantify but obviously the most important, is the "fun factor".