While your child may or may not grow up to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, programming is a worthy endeavor. Learning to code teaches communication skills, encourages creativity and builds problem-solving acumen.
But if your neighbor's 7 year old kid just coded a whole new mod for Minecraft while yours sat on the couch picking his nose and whining about toast, helping your kids learn how to code can feel like trying to reach a faraway land without a map. Not that I speak from experience here, but I do. Hang on a hot minute though, don't despair! We can help our kids learn how to code too! And we can start right here with these 5 toys:
1) Robot Turtles Robot Turtles is an award-winning board game designed to teach kids ages 3 - 5 the basics of coding. Before we all freak about kids and screens, allow me repeat that: it's a board game. No screen time necessary. $20
2) Cubetto Geared for kids ages 3 - 7, Cubetto also embraces the idea that while coding is great, too much screen time is not. Another key tenet of this colorful, enticing toy is that while kids may be too young to read, they can still learn how to code. Literacy not required. Pro-tip: Cubetto has gained enough popularity that you'll have to add your name to the list of people waiting for more of these to drop later this spring. (~$240)
3) JewelBots ATTENTION Tween Girls: JEWELRY! Oh, are we playing into stereotypes here? Maybe. But when women are outnumbered by men 4:1 in computed related jobs in the US, I say let's do what ever we gotta do to get girls coding early. Check out the first programmable friendship bracelet by JewelBots ($69 - $139). Using an mobile app, you can program your JewelBot to light up when a friend walks by or to when it's time to practice the piano. Pretty cool, right? Cool enough that everyone's favorite scientist, Bill Nye (@BillNye), has endorsed their Kickstarter. 4) Codeapillar Coming to a Toys R Us near you in Fall of 2016, the Fisher-Price Codeapillar! With kids ages 3 - 8 in mind, the Codeapillar moves and lights up according to the sequence of its segments. While no actual programming takes place, the toy introduces the concept of coding. It works both as a stand alone gadget or in conjunction with an app that further challenges kids to experiment with different sequences. ($49)
5) Bee-Bot Bee-bot is an adorable robot for young children designed to teach estimation, sequencing, and problem-solving. The little bee moves, beeps, blinks and remembers up to 40 commands encouraging increasingly sophisticated programs. Bee-bot's older brother, Pro-bot, is a robot disguised as a race car providing a hands-on experience with robotic controls. Pro-bot works as a companion toy to Bee-bot or as a separate toy. ($89 - $129) Source: Robot Turtles, JewelBots, Bee-Bot, Cubetto, Fisher-Price