As technology continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly important for children to have a strong foundation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. One way to encourage this type of learning is through the use of STEM coding toys. These toys not only introduce children to basic coding concepts, but also promote critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of STEM coding toys for child development and why they should be a part of every child’s playtime.
What are Coding Toys?
Coding toys are playsets, games, and other interactive products designed to teach kids computational thinking and programming skills. They utilize tangible programming languages made up of interlocking pieces, blocks, boards, or figurines. By assembling or arranging them in a specific sequence, children create a set of instructions, or “program,” to complete tasks and solve problems. Popular coding toys include robotics kits, programmable drones, coding puzzles, and board games.
What Ages are Best for Coding Toys?
3 Top-Rated Coding Toys
The Osmo Magic Box is a fun and educational game set for kids aged 5-10, allowing them to interact with physical blocks and a Fire Tablet to bring their actions to life, though the tablet is not included. It offers three exciting games: Coding Awbie, Coding Jam, and Coding Duo, which introduce kids to coding, music creation, and advanced coding puzzles, respectively.
The Plugo Coding kit by PlayShifu is a fun starter set for kids aged 4 and above to learn basic coding through engaging digital games. It uses a simple block-based approach where kids use tiles to create code blocks and progress through games, mastering coding basics. The kit is compatible with many iOS and Android devices, but not with Amazon Fire.
Dash is a friendly robot designed for kids aged 6-11, ready to use straight out of the box with no assembly needed. The box comes with a Dash robot, two building brick connectors, and a USB charging cable. Kids can learn coding concepts like sequencing, loops, and more through free Wonder Workshop’s apps available on Apple iOS, Android OS, and Fire OS.
3 Benefits of Coding Toys For Children
Coding toys provide many developmental benefits for young minds. By leveraging play to develop computational thinking, coding toys equip children with mental tools to succeed in an increasingly digital world. Here are 3 key ways coding toys support children’s growth:
Enhances Problem-Solving Skills
Coding toys teach kids to break down problems, create step-by-step solutions, and test different approaches through trial and error. This builds critical thinking, logic, and troubleshooting abilities.
Fosters Creativity and Self-Expression
With coding toys, children can customize projects by adding different sounds, colors, movements, and animations. This allows them to express creativity and individuality.
Introduces STEM Concepts
Coding toys utilize STEM skills like programming, robotics, circuits, and sequencing. Kids absorb core technical concepts while having fun designing projects.
6 Coding Toys We Recommend
- The Fisher-Price Code-a-Pillar is built for kids between the ages of 3 to 6 and serves as a great introduction to coding. Kids can rearrange interchangeable segments to control the movement of the toy caterpillar.
- Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot is ideal for kids aged 5 to 9 and helps introduce coding concepts through activities that teach coding logic, loops, and debugging.
- The Code & Go Robot Mouse by Learning Resources is a fun way for kids aged 5 to 9 to learn the basics of coding. The toy involves programming a robot mouse to navigate a maze.
- The Osmo Coding Starter Kit is for kids ages 5 to 10. It uses physical blocks to teach coding concepts through interactive games.
- The Arduino Starter Kit is perfect for children aged 13 and up. It introduces them to the world of electronics and programming by providing all the necessary tools and components to build their own projects.
7 Free Coding Games & Apps for Kids
Numerous coding games and apps are available for kids to acquire coding concepts while having fun. The following are some popular options:
- Scratch: Developed by MIT, Scratch is a free coding platform enabling children to generate interactive stories, games, and animations through drag-and-drop programming blocks.
- Code.org: An NGO, Code.org presents a variety of free coding resources for kids, including coding games and lessons that teach coding concepts in an enjoyable and interactive way.
- Blockly: Blockly employs visual blocks to teach coding concepts like loops, conditionals, and variables, and it is a free coding platform.
- Kodable: Kodable is a free coding game designed for kids aged 4-10, teaching coding concepts through a sequence of enjoyable and engaging activities.
- Lightbot: Designed for children aged six and up, Lightbot is a free coding game that teaches coding concepts like loops and conditionals using a puzzle format.
- ScratchJr: ScratchJr is a free coding app aimed at young children aged 5-7, allowing them to create their interactive stories and games using visual blocks.
- CodeCombat: CodeCombat is a free coding game designed for kids aged 9 and up, teaching programming concepts through a series of fun and engaging challenges.
Coding toys are not only a fun and engaging way for children to learn about technology, but they also provide a valuable opportunity for them to develop computational thinking skills. From problem-solving and logic to creativity and collaboration, coding toys offer a range of benefits that can help children develop important STEM skills. As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in our world, introducing children to these concepts at a young age can help prepare them for the challenges of the future.