Raspberry Pi for a 12 year old

Hi all,

My son is 12 years old and I would like him to learn about circuits and some coding. Was thinking of getting him a Raspberry Pi but wasn’t sure what is the right option. Amazon has lots of choices … can someone please recommend a beginner’s kit?

Thank you!

Don’t get it from Amazon. Check out the kits at adafruit. I’d recommend their starter kit for $85:

They have additional accessories, but this will get him started. You’ll need to supply an HDMI monitor, USB mouse & keyboard.

There’s also a great book on Python programming with Minecraft that works on the Pi:


I worry that just giving them X without a plan or directions on how to use it leads to not much learning. If you have the skills and knowledge to share, it would be better to work with them on a project to provide direction and motivation.

In any case, I wonder about that project of @Leo’s guest host @MikeElgan’s son:

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I think both Leo and PHolder provide good advice, focusing on coding.
As one who initially planned to start with a Pi from scratch, there’s way too much being offered to try and make sense of on your own. Raspberrypi.org is a good start. The oft advertised $35 computer is a real misnomer. That is only the Raspberry Pi board alone.
For a 12 year old just starting out, I would recommend the starter kit mentioned on Raspberrypi.org, or one with the same list of components. Understand that this literally get you to a computer you can run using your own monitor, but with no components to connect and operate any external devices beyond USB and HDMI connectors.
Have a look at Freenove on Amazon for kits beyond the Raspberry Pi computer. They have kits for complete projects, like robots, but also have kits with basic components that include instructions for multiple projects, ranging in complexity. Great way to learn about electronics.

Wow, great suggestions, everyone! Thank so much for all advice too!

Yes, I do know Python/coding, so could do a joint project w/ him. I will look into all these options and figure out next steps.

@Leo I feel this could be a great topic for one of your shows … i.e., how to get started with Rasberry Pi for kids. Does seem like there are a lot of choices based on different goals/interests/time commitment.


I’d go with the Pi 400 kit. It’s nice packaging, and your son will need a kbd. Get the kbd that has a Pi inside.

These are the times that I miss Radio Shack!! They had the best Electronics learning kits ever - All of my kids were brought up on them and loved them and they were a great father/son/daughter activity

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I received a Radio Shack kit with springs. You used jumper wire to connect the springs (which were connected behind the board to the components mounted on the front.) The springs were all numbered and the accompanying book gave you a list of spring to spring connections. The one thing the book didn’t really do was explain WHY you were making the connections. I made a quartz radio (no power).

In looking for any info for the ones I had as a kid, I did find this WireCutter article:

Anyway, here are some pictures I found that probably explain it better than any words can, I didn’t find anything that was exactly what I had, but these give the idea:



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I had ones just like these :+1: