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The Best Coding Toys for Kids

A screenshot from the ScratchJr coding environment. Credit: screenshot from the ScratchJr website

As computers infiltrate every facet of modern life, parents may want to give their tiny tots a head start by exposing them to computer science at an early age.

Apps, toys and games designed to improve children’s programming skills have flooded the market — some targeted to tots who can’t even tie their own shoes. While the jury is still out on whether these toys give kids an edge later in computer science courses, they do seem to get kids excited about the power of coding, experts say. [Read the full story on whether coding toys and apps really work]

From light-up bees to pocket-sized computers, here are some of tools experts use to teach kids the basics of programming.

Earliest learners

Nowadays, kids can start coding before they can read. But that doesn’t mean the computer is the best tool for imparting basic computer science concepts, such as sequencing, said said Alice Steinglass, the vice president of product and marketing at Code.org, a nonprofit that aims to improve exposure to coding for younger kids.

“For young kids, lot of them don’t have a super long attention span,” Steinglass told Live Science. “Sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time may not be the best way for them to learn.”

Instead, short, interactive apps may be an easier entry into computer science. [Educational Gift Ideas for Kids]

For instance, The Foos uses simple icons with symbols, such as monsters, arrows and speech bubbles to solve adventures like chasing down a donkey thief or rescuing puppies lost in space.  The free iPhone app is designed for kids ages 5 to 10, and kids can learn the basics in an hour.

By Tia Ghose, Live ScienceSouthFloridaReporter.com, Mar. 19, 2016


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