The iPad is a natural device for kids to play with and learn from. Due to my occupation as an iOS software developer, we always have extra hardware and so my sons have both had their own iPads since roughly 18 months of age. Their iPads are the heavier first-generation iPads with the relatively thick aluminum case. To this date, both iPads have survived intact with rigorous daily use and frequent abuse. Some of my friends have had some bad luck with their children inflicting damage (usually by dropping) on their iPad 2 devices, i.e. a bad drop on a tile floor can result in a shattered display. In fact, I’ve not heard many great stories about the durability of second and later generation iPads.
However, that first generation iPad keeps on trucking. Case in point: my youngest son just through my oldest son’s iPad off of the top of our stairs, falling one story, and landing flatly in the basement. After some stern discipline, the net result: the YouTube “Old MacDonald” song/video kept right on playing with no noticeable damage whatsoever. Quite frankly, I can’t think of any significantly complex electronics device that could have survived such a fall. That said, I think the iPad 2 or “The New iPad” probably would have faired worse.
So keep in mind, if you see a lone iPad 1 out there somewhere at a bargain price, consider picking it up for a little one you know. They can take the beating and keep on ticking.