Toys that enhance children's STEM skills are becoming extremely popular, but this year, toy manufacturers have started focusing on one important key component of the STEM curriculum: coding.
By way of example, coding has been defined as the language of the future and has the ability to shape technology we use throughout our day-to-day lives. From the software on your computer, to the apps installed on your smartphone, these platforms are all made and created with code. Generally speaking, people who know the ins and outs of coding have some of the most in-demand jobs in the world and kids are never too young to start learning the language since studies show that at least 50% of careers require technical skills.
Coding might seem really complicated, but toy companies are finding creative ways to make the concept easy to grasp and less intimidating, even for kids who are just beginning school. There are also more advanced options on toy shelves to engage pre-teens and older teenagers. Toys aren’t always fun and games, there’s almost always an educational component to anything kids are playing with, and this year, STEM toys will feature great products that will help break down difficult concepts into exciting experiences with the hopes of activating kids’ interest in coding.
Here are some of the best coding toys for kids!
Toys That Boost Creativity
With a toy like Kibo, kids have the ability to build a robot and scan bar codes on a sequence of connectable wooden blocks, each of which has their own designated action. Once the robots are built, children can program it to do what they want and even decorate it. The designers of Kibo wanted to create a toy that gives children the chance to make their ideas both tangible and abstract. Which is exactly what their young minds and bodies need. The most impressive part, however, is that Kibo does all this without requiring kids to get behind a computer screen.
Designed for open-ended playtime, Kibo also lets children make almost anything. This might include characters from stories, a helicopter, or even a race car. Anything their young minds can think of. The child just simply has to create a sequence of instructions (a program) by using the wooden blocks that come with the set.
Dash & Dot
Founded in 2012, Dash & Dot are characters who ignite curiosity and confidence while providing children with fun ways of learning things like collaboration, communication, and digital literacy. Kids can control this toy with programs they create using Workshop apps, which feels more like casual gaming than desktop scripting tools. The Workshop app connects to Dash & Dot via Bluetooth and automatically determines the coding language users will need to write in order to control the movement, sensors, and other capabilities of the robot.
Users of Dash & Dot, for example, can access the “Wonder Workshop Playbook” when they open the software on their mobile devices. The playbook will then show them which robots are nearby and when they begin coding. Dash & Dot are definitely not the cheapest toys on the market, but they are definitely one of the coolest toys that will enhance a child’s learning ability in coding.
Friendship bracelets have always been labeled as a popular trend amongst middle-school students for decades. From knotted threads to plastic lanyards with interlocking charms, each generation seems to find its own unique way of displaying social networking amongst students. For today’s teens, the latest incarnation could, in fact, be wearable technology. Of course with some educational benefits.
Jewelbots aims to elevate friendship bracelets from a fashionable symbol to an educational tool that teaches kids to code in various languages. Now, when most people think of wearable bracelets, they immediately think of something young girls wear. But believe it or not, wearable bands aren’t just associated with young girls, athletes have even started wearing them too. These wearable tech bands have been widely used for data collection and motion tracking, which goes hand-in-hand when it comes to making contact sports like football and hockey safer for players.
Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar
Kids learning to code on tablets and computers are becoming more and more popular all over the world. Learning code benefits kids by not only allowing them to understand how a technology works, but also enabling them to become better problem-solvers and have better analytical skills.
The Code-a-Pillar toy is a caterpillar with a head unit and eight different segments. There are two right turns, two left turns, three straight and one segment that has sound included, along with two circular targets.
The toy is designed for toddlers with hopes of helping them learn the bare minimum of coding concepts without ever touching a computer or typing on a keyboard. The caterpillar toy will move in certain directions depending on how each symbol is structured on its body.
Microduino mCookie Kits can turn an ordinary LEGO set into an intelligent, miniature computer. If that’s not impressive enough, I don’t know what is. After all, LEGO kits are currently one of the best building toys out there.
With the Microduinos mCookie kits, you can build, program, and connect it all to your LEGO blocks. The components are magnetic, so they don’t require any hardwiring to build.
Working as a series of stackable electronic modules, you can use these little cubes to create anything from a music box to a quadcopter weather station. All of which are created from coding knowledge. The kit comes equipped with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities, ensuring that the only limitation is the child’s imagination.
In the meantime, you can argue with your kids over who had it better (or worse) as a kid, but one thing is certain, LEGOs are great.
Creativity is extremely contagious.
Thanks for the read. Did I miss anything else? What are some other great STEM toys that can help STEM teach kids coding skills? Feel free to leave a comment.