Kids are being introduced to, and becoming proficient in, technology at younger and younger ages. We’ve all seen toddlers hyper-focused on their iPads. But experts worry that this trend could lead to passive play rather than active discovery. These new high tech toys seek to inspire young children to learn the science behind their screens: coding! At Toy Fair 2016, Alexis Alvarado found five great coding toys that promote pre-school basics all the way to advanced high school skills.
1. Codeapillar by Fisher Price
The Codeapillar isn’t just adorable, it teaches the very basic concept of coding. It works by having children connect differently marked segments to the Codeapillar’s head in whatever sequence they choose. The Codeapillar then executes the commands, moving left and right or making noises, all while demonstrating the relationship between input and results. Expansion packs and an upcoming app promise to add functionality for older kids.
For ages 3+; MSRP $49.99
2. Coding Mouse Activity Set by Learning Resources
Part game, part stand-alone toy: children can choose whether they want to challenge themselves with the obstacle course bundled with the mouse, or just input directions in the mouse’s back arrow buttons and watch it go! Young kids will love the bright colors and instant satisfaction of inputting commands. Older kids can use it to problem-solve complex mazes of their own creation. The mouse works on all surfaces, not just the included maze, so kids are free to experiment with coding wherever they go.
Ages 5+; MSRP $59.99
3. Coji by Wowwee
If a child is ready to incorporate some extra screens into their coding time, Coji is for them. This friendly robot and its accompanying app use emojis as a coding language. The app has everything from games to art to the ability to ‘talk’ to your Coji. Coji really shines in its ability to build on kids’ logical reasoning skills, as many of the problems the in-game bot faces require specific solutions that need to be programmed. The real-life Coji will also reenact what’s going on in the app, creating multiple levels of interaction. There’s certainly a lot to ☺ here.
Ages 6+; MSRP $59.99
4. Code Gamer by Thames & Kosmos
Graduating from buttons and symbols to more sophisticated programming, the Code Gamer aims to teach a real coding language to middle-schoolers through video games. Kids can discover what makes their game controllers work, how to program commands, and even how to build their own game levels. The video game displays the code that’s running on screen so kids can learn, discover, and begin taking on increasingly complex tasks. These skills can then be transferred out of the virtual world with included guides on code-savvy projects like how to program your own alarm.
Ages 10+; MSRP $149.95
5. Maker MiP by Wowwee
Maker MiP is an immersive toy line that encourages children to not only code their own tech, but build it too. The kits have different difficulties, opening them up for everyone from tech-loving middle schoolers to college students looking for a weekend activity. After the Maker robots have been assembled, junior coders can learn Linux to fully operate and control their creation. The toy comes with access to a library of coding resources as well as videos on coding from expert college professors. While challenging, it’s highly educational and a satisfying start to any young creator’s coding career.
Ages 8+; MSRP $69.99 – $199.99