We know there are many benefits to teaching kids to code early. But it could be tricky and challenging to teach preschoolers about coding. Are there any fun and effective coding activities for preschoolers? I decided to look into this topic.
Coding Activities for preschoolers are designed to build children’s computational thinking and introduce basic coding concepts to them. Coding apps, unplugged coding activities, and coding robots offer parents and teachers tools to create a fun and engaging learning experience for the little ones.
There is no shortage of creative ways to teach kids to code. And learning to code does not mean they need to sit in front of a computer all the time. I have included both on-screen and off-screen activities in this blog post. In the remainder of this blog post, let’s look at 9 coding activities for preschoolers and how to make the best out of them.
9 Creative and Fun Coding Activities For Preschoolers
Code ‘n Learn Kinderbot
Code ‘n Learn Kinderbot is an interactive robot friend for preschoolers. Kids get to decide how and where the robot moves and goes.
There are 3 types of activities kids can do with Code ‘n Learn Kinderbot:
Free Coding mode: Kids program the path for the robot by pressing buttons.
Learning Challenge mode: Kids solve different fun challenges. Through the challenges, they will learn counting, color, and simple comparisons.
Secret Codes mode: Kids learn to follow instructions in the secret codebook. The codebook offers more learning challenges. They can even turn the robot into different characters.
By playing with the robot, kids learn about shapes, colors, early math, following instructions, and problem-solving. It helps kids to gear up for school.
Code a pillar
Code-a-pillar is a robotic toy pillar. It is an early coding and problem-solving toy for preschoolers. The toy is designed for kids ages 3 -6. It has 1 motorized head and 5 permanently attached segments.
Code-a-pillar allows kids to code the path for it by turning the dials on the segments of the toy. It also features volume control, light-up eyes, sound, and light effects.
Coding activities with Code-a-pillar:
Parents or teachers can set up a few destinations and obstacles with books or blocks for the pillar. Next, challenge kids to code the toy so the pillar can go the direction they want.
Allow the kids to plan the path, design the sequence, and code the dials on the segment to make sure the pillar will follow their plan.
By playing with the code-a-pillar, kids learn about planning, sequencing, critical thinking, as well as, problem-solving.
Story Sequence – Tell a story
Sequential thinking is an essential coding concept and also a child development milestone. It is the ability to sort problems into orders and solve them in sequence.
There are many activities we could apply to develop sequential thinking.
One of the easiest activities is to have kids tell a story based on pictures. Show them a few pictures, mix them up, and challenge the kids to tell a story in the right order. Remember, there might be different orders to tell a story, as long as it makes sense, and logical, give them a “good job”.
Another sequential thinking activity for the preschoolers is arranging alphabets and numbers. Mix the letters, and then have the kids arrange them in the correct order.
Sequential thinking is an important skill to understand how to code. Having the preschoolers learn the skills through playing often achieves the best result.
Playing puzzles is good problem-solving training. Through finding the correct pieces and fitting them into the big picture, kids also learn to be persistent and analytical while solving problems. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment upon completion of a puzzle.
Puzzles with attractive pictures like animals and vehicles are preschoolers’ favorite. Here are a few puzzles you can consider:
Making a Sandwich
Decomposition is one of the core coding concepts all programmers need to master. It is also an essential life skill. Decomposition is the ability to “decompose” a large problem into small parts. We then focus on solving the small problems one at a time.
A computer program is a set of instructions a programmer gives to a computer. To learn to code, we need to learn how to give clear instructions.
How do we teach kids about decomposition? By making a sandwich!
Have your child think about his/her favorite sandwich. Get her to draw out the step-by-step process to make that sandwich. If the child is not ready to draw, have him/her tell you the steps verbally.
When his/her instruction is ready, follow the instruction to make a sandwich. If the sandwich turns out to be similar to what the child expected, he/she wins the challenge.
If the sandwich failed, have a small conversation, and work out which steps are wrong.
Through this play, kids learn to decompose a problem into small parts and give clear instruction. This is what a computer needs from a coder.
Building blocks are a great activity for preschoolers. It stimulates kids’ creativity, teaches them to be persistent, and logical thinking.
To construct a building with blocks, kids learn to plan, observe, and find solutions. These are the same lessons that a coder needs to learn.
With building blocks, there are not many preparations parents or teachers need to do. Give children the freedom to create, to make mistakes, and try.
Hopster Coding Safari
Hopster Coding Safari is a mobile app available for iPad. It best suits toddlers and preschoolers.
The animal-themed pre-coding game teaches kids the fundamentals of coding. There are a series of logical challenges, children are tasked to guide animals to where they need to be.
As children progress, the tasks in the app become increasingly complex. Hopster Coding Safari guides children through the fundamentals of computational thinking.
The app does not teach kids how to code, but to prepare them with an important skill set to learn to code later.
Play Tic Tac Toe
Tic-Tac-Toe is probably the easiest activity you can play with kids at home. Did you know the game has existed for more than 3000 years?
Pencils and paper are all we need to play tic-tac-toe. Besides, most kids’ playgrounds include tic-tac-toe game boards.
Tic-Tac-Toe offers numerous values in children’s development. The game helps them to learn about predictability, spatial reasoning, problem-solving and strategizing.
Lego Building Set
Lego bricks allow kids to imagine and create. It is also a great tool to learn to follow instructions.
Every LEGO set comes with detailed step-by-step instructions. The toy demonstrates the process of following instructions to produce the desired results. This is the same concept we apply in coding.
The great thing about LEGO is that it offers a variety of sets according to ages and skill levels. For preschoolers, the LEGO Duplo set is a perfect choice.
To make the game more challenging, ask your kids to produce their instructions to build something. If you can recreate their creations by following the instructions, they win the challenge.
Both following and producing detailed instructions are essential coding skills.
Coding Activities For Preschoolers – A Wrap Up
Preschoolers are keen-learners, however, most of them are not ready to read and write. It should not stop them from learning coding concepts.
At ages 3-5, we are focusing on teaching preschoolers important computational thinking and basic coding concepts. With help from games and apps, it makes learning a fun journey.
Skills like problem-solving, sequential thinking, and decomposition, etc not only benefit them in coding learning but also helps them to improve academic performance later.