Electronics for Kids: A Beginner's Guide

Are you looking to introduce your kids to the exciting world of electronics? Look no further! In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore some of the best electronic devices and toys for kids that are engaging and educational. Whether your child wants to code their robot or build a circuit from scratch, I’ve covered you with all the tips and tricks you need to get started. So,  let’s dive into the wonderful world of electronics together!

Why teach our children electronics

Electronics has become essential to our everyday lives, from smartphones and computers to the cars we drive and the appliances we use. Electronics is so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine life without it!

Despite its ubiquity, many people still don’t know much about electronics. And that’s understandable—it can be a complex topic! But don’t worry. I’m here to help. In this beginner’s guide, I’ll introduce you to the basics of electronics so that you can have a lot of fun.

When I started working on this article, I ran into the following problem: most manufacturers of development boards assume the user is experienced in electronics, and, beyond the “what you do, you do it at your risk,” they don’t offer any safety sheets, least to say they indicate an age limit to use their products.

So I started to do something completely different: I searched on the pages of the various manufacturers I know for kits intended primarily for the very beginners.I have studied the pages of each manufacturer and considered their recommendations on the minimum age from which any development kit can be used.

In order to facilitate your little adventures in electronics, I have selected some kits for beginners in this article and grouped them by age categories. I have studied the pages of each manufacturer and considered their recommendations on the minimum age from which any development kit can be used.

5+ years

The only starter kit recommended for children ages five and older is the Snap Circuit Beginner Electronic Discovery Kit from Elenco.

7+ years

The Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 from Lego can be used by children aged 7-12.

8+ years

From the age of 8 years, there are multiple options available.

Designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is an excellent option to make the first steps in programming. As opposed to traditional, text-based programming, Scratch uses block-based coding. All one has to do is drag and combine blocks of instructions to create complex applications. It’s worth mentioning here that Block-Based Coding is the de facto way to teach kids introductory programming in the US.

The range of Elenco products rated for age eight and up includes the Snap Circuits Jr. SC100, the Snap Circuits Classic SC300, and the Snap Circuits Extreme SC750. There are also upgrade kits available, so one can buy only the upgrade kit from SC100 to SC300, and so on.

In the Lego Boost product range, we will find the Droid Commander – item no. 75253.

10+ years

The range of possible options increases. Notably, the SparkFun Inventors Kit does not require any soldering and is recommended for beginners ages ten and up. While the official Arduino Uno kit doesn’t specify an age limit, it has the same complexity as the SIK kit, so it’s safe to assume the same 10-year age limit.

LEGO fans can now unleash their creative power with the more complicated MINDSTORMS® EV3 – item no. 31313. Extra MINDSTORMS® compatible sensors and motors can be purchased separately.

11+ years

Somewhere on a forum, I found that “the original target for the RPi was (secondary) school-age children coming up to University entrance.” That is, from age 11 and to age 99+. Scratch runs on the Raspberry PI, as well as some other nice development tools. There’s also Python, and the wonderful Pi Sense Hat (Hardware Attached on Top) requires no soldering, so it’s safe to use.

The Arduino Student Kit is also listed as 11+ years so, at this age, one can start exploring Arduino projects.

12+ years

If you already have some of the Snap Circuit products, you can benefit from Snapino, which adds one Arduino Uno to the Snap Circuit projects.

16+ years

In the user manual of my Weller WXD2 soldering station, I have found the following safety warning: “for safety reasons, children and youths under the age of 16, as well as persons who are not familiar with these operating instructions, may not use the device”.

Elenco SL5 and SL5K40 soldering stations are listed as “For ages 14 and up”.

I have also found a discussion regarding age restriction for using soldering stations on Instructables. Another discussion regarding the use of soldering irons can be found on the eham.net.


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