The Raspberry Pi is an ultra-popular maker board. While other development boards exist, the Pi remains the most well-known and supported single-board computer (SBC) on the planet. With excellent compatibility on the software and hardware side, it's a fantastic choice for users of all ages. Although many Raspberry Pi projects might be better suited to adults and more experienced makers, there are tons of maker projects for kids. Check out the best Raspberry Pi kits for kids!
Best Raspberry Pi Kit for Kids: What to Look for
When selecting a Raspberry Pi project kit for children and beginners, you'll want to pick out a comprehensive bundle which includes everything necessary for completing a project. That way, there's guaranteed compatibility. You won't have to worry about hardware and software connectivity issues, which drastically simplifies getting started with a Raspberry Pi. Additionally, look for an exciting project kit such as a do-it-yourself robotics endeavor, retro gaming set up, or another neat Pi-based maker kit.
When searching for an entertaining STEM project for kids, a robotics kit such as the SunFounder Raspberry Pi car is an ideal choice. This DIY Raspberry Pi-based robot car is a blast to configure, and features a sensor operation. It employs an ultrasonic obstacle avoidance sensor, line follower, and light follower. As such, there's an introduction to RPi hardware. Moreover, basic Python programming is required for completion of the SunDounder Raspberry Pi sensor car but it's through an easy, drag-and-drop graphical user interface (GUI). Unfortunately, a Raspberry Pi board isn't included, but this will only set you back about $35.
When it comes to STEM kits, Kano is easily the most well-known name. Its Kano DIY computer features an all-in-one solution for getting started building a basic PC. There's a Raspberry Pi 3, case, power button, wireless keyboard with trackpad, and programmable LED lights. You'll even find an HDMI cable, microSD card, and more. The Kano kit affords ample learning opportunities, and once it's complete, budding makers may code art, apps, music, and games. It can run a variety of programs, from WhatsApp and Google Docs to Wikipedia, YouTube, and even Minecraft. Kano also offers its DIY Harry Potter wand kit which, while not Raspberry Pi-powered, lets children get hands-on with programming basics in a fun, inviting setting.
Similar to the SunFounder Raspberry Pi car kit, the Adeept Mars Rover PiCar-B is a Wi-Fi smart robot car engineered to run off of a Raspberry Pi. It functions fine with a Raspberry Pi 3 B+, Pi 3, or Pi 2. Onboard, there's OpenCV target tracking support as well as speech recognition capabilities. Since there's speech recognition builtin, you can control the Adeept Mars Rover PiCar with voice commands. Additionally, its object recognition and tracking means there's obstacle avoidance thanks to an ultrasonic sensor. Plus, it's app controllable, and featuers WS2812 RGB LEDs which can change color. Easy to use and with fantastic community support, the Adeept Mars Rover PiCar-B is a Raspberry Pi kit for kids that adults will appreciate as well.
This DIY Raspberry Pi touts a slew of features including line tracking, obstacle avoidance, a camera module, and real-time image plus video. There's an ultrasonic sensor for obstacle avoidance as well as line follower, and app control. You can control the Uctronics Raspberry Pi robot car using a mobile app, IR remote control, line tracking, and obstacle avoidance mode as well. There's an included CD with step-by-step instructions. While the Pi board isn't included, merely buy one for $35 and you're up and running.
I was thoroughly impressed with the Elecrow Arduino-powered smart plant watering kit. Likewise, its CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi kit for STEM learning is a fantastic choice for young makers. In our review, we appreciated its value for the money, as well as its scalability. Whereas many Pi kits for children come in a sort of robot car form factor, the CrowPi takes a different approach. It's akin to a beefed-up Kano Kit. There's a seven-segment display, LED matrix, and over 19 sensors. The bundled manual provides an overview of various projects which you can complete with the CrowPi. Overall, it's a solid choice for beginners which has the potential to scale to fit their growing needs.
Alternatively, you might consider simply picking up a Raspberry Pi kit, either a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ or a Raspberry Pi 4. Snag one that includes a Pi board, case, microSD card, and all components. Then, select the distro of your choice and make a kid-oriented Raspberry Pi project. This could be installing RetroPie, Recalbox, Lakka, or Batocera for a DIY game console, or loading up Sugar on a Stick (SoaS) for a kid-friendly desktop. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
Raspberry Pi Kits for Budding Makers: Final Thoughts
The maker community includes DIYers from all backgrounds and of all skill levels. As such, children are included as well. However, the top hardware for adults differs from what kids will need. I strongly suggest opting for a kit, whether that's a build-your-own desktop sort or a robotics Raspberry Pi project. This affords an excellent opportunity to learn more about Raspberry Pi hardware and software, as well as probe maker concepts such as programming basics.
Your turn: What Raspberry Pi kits for kids are you using?