Do your kids love computer games and games of logic? Is your child good at mathematics? Do they struggle to apply concepts to real-world scenarios? If you said yes to any of these questions, you should consider getting your children involved in coding. Coding not only helps kids learn math, science, and computer technology, it can also lead them to a lucrative future career that will only become more important in the coming years.
Educators and researchers agree that giving children toys that scale up in complexity and feature open-ended play options can enhance problem solving skills. Coding toys come in many different forms, from board games to computer hardware. Here are the best coding toys of 2017, just in time for the holidays!
Hasbro’s FurReal Makers Proto Max
If you child wants a pet but you aren’t quite ready to bring home Fido, consider Hasbro’s Max instead. This game, which is suitable for kids 6 and older, allows them to build their very own adorable dog. The kids will determine how they want the dog to behave by programming personality traits at more than 10 activation points. For example, you can program Max to wag his tail when his nose is pushed. This amazing toy has over 400 sounds and 100 eye animations, allowing for a virtually endless number of movements and sounds. There are also app-based games for mobile devices.
With ThinkFun’s Circuit Maze, your kids will actually learn how to build circuits, the building blocks of computers and robotics. Using a 5×5 grid that the player uses to draw a card, the game focuses the child on inserting the right components to make a working circuit, all in the aim of turning on a light. The pieces need to be put in the right order to work the light, but there is always more than one correct answer to the challenge. You do not need an internet connection to play Circuit Maze.
Lego has entered the coding game arena with Lego Boost, which is aimed at kids ages 7 to 12. Boost allows for five programmable robots that are built from a kit using Lego bricks, a central processing unit (CPU), and sensors. This exciting game allows kids to program their very own robot, using an iPad or Android device that has the app. These are complex projects, but very achievable for most children. The blocks connect to the robots with Bluetooth. They are also compatible with other Lego sets, which means kids can continue to customize their designs.
Start kids out young by making them think about how the real world connects with the virtual world. Puzzlets is designed to do just that, allowing kids to arrange tiles on a cloud-shaped game board that is connected to a tablet. The tile arrangement programs the way characters move within the game on the tablet.
Fisher-Price’s Code-a-Pillar is a coding toy for small children. This toy shows that no child is too young to learn the fundamentals of coding. The Code-a-Pillar is a set of eight segments and a head. Each segment has a symbol on the back. The symbol shows the child an action or direction for wiggling or playing music. As the child links together the segments in the proper sequence, the Code-a-Pillar will actually follow the instructions. Children as young as toddlers can learn how to create sequences of commands. Fisher-Price also sells expansion packs to give the Code-a-Pillar more commands, like doing a 180-degree turn.
Code Monkey Island
Electronics are not needed to start children thinking like coders. Code Monkey Island is a board game that teaches coding using cards that govern how many spaces a player moves using conditional statements, strategic thinking and Boolean operators. This teaches kids the background logic that they can use to think like a coder later on.
Girls lag behind in STEM, so there are many new toys which are designed to involve more girls in coding. SmartGurlz’s Siggy Scooter comes with one doll who will be taught how to drive the scooter. Your daughter or son will learn to program Siggy, solve coding-based problems and play games.
Can kids learn to code before they learn to read? According to Primo Toys, they most certainly can. Cubetto uses colored blocks to represent commands for a square, wooden robot to follow. The robot will learn to turn, move forward, or move backward. The toy comes with a related map and book, which helps both parent and child have fun programming the toy. The toy doubles-down on early problem-solving skills and is approved by Montessori educators.