Adults involved in digital platforms are scrambling to learn the inscrutable language of coding, taking night and online courses, feeling like an old dog unable to learn new tricks. In the mean time, the next generation of children will have the resources to master coding from early childhood with a new range of toys that teach the basics of coding.
These educational toys aim to teach children computer-programming fundamentals with a process that feels more like play than anything educational. The complicated language of computer coding is an underlying lesson amongst the commands to move around physical or virtual blocks.
The toys shown here pair with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and all are compatible with both Android and iOS. While the child won’t be able to actually code (at least not yet), the toys more succeed in helping the children think like programmers.
The toys are recommended for ages five and up.
Much like traditional games such as Sonic The Hedgehog or Super Mario Bros, the Puzzlets character has to run and jump its way around various obstacles to collect keys, raindrops and other prized objects. However, instead of controlling the character with a joystick, the control is all in placing small plastic tiles — each which trigger speicific actions — onto a cloud shaped board. The tiles determine the on-screen characters movements (left turn, right run, jump). Adding a “modifier” tile to an action, tweaks it slightly, for example, combining the tiles “jump” and “plus” make the character leap. “Multiplier” tiles can tell the program to repeat an action a certain number of times.
Dash and Dot
These little robots feature microphones (for listening), speakers (for talking), proximity sensors and LED lights around each of their eyes to simulate blinking. Dash and Dot are programmed by a tablet app called Blocky. The robots can be programmed to drive around, say “hello” and they can also sense obstacles, look towards voices and stop itself.
Sphero Sprk Edition
This motorised ball is one of the most agile remote-control toys you can buy, similar to Dash and Dot, children can program the robot to drive around corners, twirl or zip up and down ramps, perform figure-eights and much more.