Coding. That’s something with computers, right? But what’s this about young children doing coding? It turns out, coding is just a way of thinking that we start doing at an early age. I’ve just let the term “code” freak me out. There are many ways for a child to develop those coding skills without looking at a computer for those parents wishing to limit screen time. Being surrounded by technology, learning how to code becomes more and more necessary in life and just like a foreign language, it is easier to learn at an early age. That’s because creating a code is like a language – a special language that tells a computer or robot what to do. Turn left, go straight. clap three times. Coding helps children with problem solving and logic. The ability to direct technology instead of just using it, builds confidence and skills that will help children later on in school and in careers where there is more and more demand for technology.
At our November 1st Exploratorium we started with very basic coding concepts using a variety of coding kits that will be available to try out in the Children’s Dept the week of Thanksgiving and then will be available to check out at a later date. This is a great way for your child to get started with the concept of coding before purchasing items that are more complicated. Some of the new items we have available include:
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar, Cubetto Educational Coding Robot, Learning Resources Learning Essentials Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set and an Ozobot.
A basic game to play with your child that demonstrates coding basics at no cost is a form of Simon Says. Simon says, if I clap my hands, then you stomp your feet. Or, if I nod my head, then you nod your head. Simon is the programmer, everyone else in the group becomes the computer.
Ready for something more complex? Place a black checker somewhere towards the far side of a checkerboard. Place a few red checkers on the board to act as obstacles. Place another black checker in the lower left corner of the board. Now direct the lower left black checker to the other black checker using only these simple directions: Go Forward, Turn Right, Turn Left, Repeat. The checker can move only 1 square at a time. It does not matter if the square is black or red.
Continue until you reach the black checker. Write down the instructions, step by step.
Now place the black checker back to the lower left corner and follow your written instructions. Did it work? If it didn’t, go back and figure out where you went wrong and try again. If it did work, then you just wrote your first piece of successful code!
In January we will have another coding program for Exploratorium that will be a bit more advanced than last weeks program. In the meantime stop by the children’s desk to try out the basic coding program kits we have.