Like it or not, coding is a big part of your child’s world. Even if you’re not sure what it is, you probably know that it’s important, and that it’s part of the curriculum in many schools across the country. Many of the items that kids use in their everyday life are powered by codes. Computer consoles, tablets, smartphones, and even calculators all use a form of code — so it’s important for kids to know how it works and for parents to know how our kids can learn about it at home.
What is coding?
Coding allows kids (and adults!) to use a programming language to “speak” to computers. Speaking to a computer means you can program it, control its technology, and eventually create new music, apps and games.
Who is coding for?
Coding is not just for tech lovers. Of course, anyone who is interested in computers and technology can benefit from learning to code. Yet it’s also for anyone with a curious mind! Coding encourages creativity, experimentation and logical thinking. Coding is empowering when kids realize they can create something new or control a computer all by themselves.
Why is coding important?
As parents, we might not understand coding very well. You might not like the idea of your child sitting in front of a computer to learn these skills. However, the truth is that coding is the future! It’s their future. It will be at the root of everything they do, and many jobs will require knowledge of coding and coding skills.
What toys and games help kids learn how to code?
The toy industry is fully embracing the world of coding. There are so many amazing games, toys and applications for kids interested in learning this important skill. I’ve gathered a few coding toys for you to explore, and you’ll see there’s something for everyone! Coding can be for many different age groups. Here are five of my favorites:
Kids can learn to code with the help of Sammy — he looks like a sandwich! — and friends. Sammy helps kids learn how to build and code robots, as well as get a basic introduction to STEM, math, and computer skills. One of the coolest things about this kit is that no computer or tablet is needed. You can just use the included set of cards and card frames. The kit is geared toward kids ages 4 and up.
Botley was a 2018 Toy of the Year Winner and with good reason! Kids ages 5 and up can work with the Botley kit to create obstacles and tasks. Botley can be programmed to move blocks, roll through obstacle courses, and follow basic commands. He can even carry small items that are included in the kit. Botley has an “object detection” mode, as well as sensors and the ability to follow lines that he’s programmed to roll across. Toy Insider Parent Charlene DeLoach even showed how it can be great for kids on the Autism Spectrum to learn sequencing and executive functioning skills.
This product is one of the coolest examples of coding fun that I have ever seen. In simple terms, kids use step by step coding software to create and build their own wand. There are more than 70 wizarding challenges, and kids can use the wand as a tool for art, music, games, apps, and more. This kit from Kano is great for kids ages 6 and up. Read the Toy Insider’s full review of the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit here.
Coding Critters is a wonderful way to introduce kids to coding. Kids as young as 4 can use Coding Critters to learn coding basics and STEM skills. These cute interactive pets come with a play set, a story book of coding adventures and interactive modes. There are challenges for kids to complete, bringing their pets to life with simple commands and skills.
This is truly the LEGO kit of the future! The LEGO Boost comes with special LEGO Boost Bricks that are used to add sound and movement to their LEGO build. Kids can make one of five different creations, then bring their build to life with the help of an app and their coding instructions. There are tutorials to help kids along the way, and challenges to put their creations to good use.