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Kids learn math, spelling, visual thinking, problem solving, and drawing in a uniquely fun and practical manner. Varying skill levels are suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. Backed by multiple awards.
Exclusively designed for use with an iPad, severely limiting functionality.
Easy to understand and begin using. Push-button controls are easy to understand and easy to press. Teaches kids how to code without the use of a screen. Helps express creativity by creating fun mazes for the mouse.
The mouse can be unpredictable with how quickly it turns.
Kids can program multiple steps and use "if-then" commands in their programming. A large variety of possibilities is included with the activity set. Great for engineering and critical thinking skills.
Botley requires 5 AAA batteries, which aren't included.
A fun way to learn to assign behaviors to specific objects. Kids have fun coming up with new applications for the kit, such as piano keys, dance mats, and gamepads. It offers a lot more versatile use than many coding games.
There aren't always enough wires to fully explore creativity.
A great way to introduce the concept of computer coding to adults and children alike. The physical nature of this add-on makes it easier to wrap your head around basic coding concepts. Has both basic and challenging activities.
Challenges can take long to understand. Some children may lose interest quickly.
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Coding toys can help prepare your child for the thinking challenges of ever-changing technology and the increasingly complex world. These toys are designed to spark a child’s natural curiosity and desire to create. They teach technical problem-solving and design skills and enable kids to feel the excitement of controlling electronics that they’ve helped to build.
There are many varieties of these toys. Some are computers that kids can build from scratch and then learn to learn program. Other toys are more like logic puzzles or board games designed to teach thinking strategies rather than technological skills.
There are some factors to consider before you buy a coding toy for your child. These toys can be a lot of fun for kids, but some may be too advanced for young children.
What is coding?
Perhaps you’ve heard about “coding” but were uncertain about what it really means. It has to do with how computers do what they do. The truth is, computers aren’t really as complicated as they seem. They’re simply lots of electronic on/off switches run by a series of human-created commands or “codes” to perform a task. Coding is how a human tells a computer to do something. There are extremely complex codes running the technology we use daily, from smartphones to social media. Coding toys can help kids learn the problem-solving skills it takes to make these and other technologies work.
What does the coding toy teach?
Programming logic requires one to learn the rules associated with a situation before making a decision. When assessing coding toys, it’s helpful to look at how the toy focuses on teaching a child to think under certain conditions. For instance, a toy may help a child learn to put together a computer, but that doesn’t mean the child will then know how to make the computer perform tasks. Make sure that any coding toy you choose isn’t just technologically flashy; you want a toy that helps your child understand how to make decisions based on a prescribed set of logical rules. This will make the toy not only more fun but also more useful in the long run.
How technical do you want the coding toy to be?
While many coding toys are mini-computers, one doesn’t need to be in order to teach coding skills. A simple board game may be as effective at teaching thinking skills as a more expensive high-tech option. Sometimes a simpler toy is better, giving your child more freedom to be creative.
There are many kinds of coding toys for kids. Before you buy, consider which type and features will be most helpful for your child.
Self-contained: These coding toys allow your child to play and work with the system in the box. The toys don’t necessarily enable your child to get creative with everyday household objects like some other toys do. The advantage of a self-contained coding toy is that a child can put it together and see the end result of their efforts. It feels cool to build your own computer.
Thinking logic: A thinking logic coding toy can be as simple as a basic board game. Don’t discount the advantage of what may seem like an old-fashioned toy. A large part of understanding coding is understanding logic.
Inventive: Some coding toys allow your child to be inventive beyond the scope of the toy. These toys require innovative thinking and help your child to create a toy or tool. These toys boost critical thinking and encourage children to become inventors.
Robotic: Some robotic coding toys help the child build a robot. Most are robotic toys that the child commands via an app or control on the robot itself. These toys are good for teaching logic, but they don’t teach circuitry or electronics.
For as little as $20 you can find a decent coding board game that teaches programming logic and critical-thinking skills.
In the $50 to $75 range you can find coding toys designed to build on your child’s creativity when interacting with the outside world. These aren’t self-contained systems, but they can help your child learn to solve problems.
For $100 to $200 you can find a coding toy with all the tools for your child to build a computer, learn to code, and play games or make designs on the completed computer.
Check the age range of the coding toy before you buy. Some of these toys are too complicated for young children. However, there are plenty of coding toys on the market that even very young kids can learn to use.
Use the toy with your child. Coding toys are great learning tools when adults and children interact with them together. While some kids may take to the toy naturally, others could get bored without a little guidance.
Q. I keep hearing about STEM. What is it?
A. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and relates to an interdisciplinary approach to learning that includes these elements.
Q. Is a coding toy still worth the cost if I don’t understand coding?
A. As parents, one of the biggest challenges of coding toys and games may be understanding how to teach your child to use them. These toys can be as fun for adults as they are for kids, but if you aren’t already technologically savvy or a computer programmer, you could end up learning coding skills alongside your child. That’s okay. This is what your kids are learning in school. It will help them in their future endeavors.
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