What are the best fun and educational gifts for homeschooled kids?
Photo by Alena Darmel
Getting your kids to “Want” to learn coding is tricky. You have to walk a fine line between offering them encouragement without overstating or overplaying your hand. If you make coding sound like a winter holiday in a Christmas Lapland when your kid will be disappointed when they have to sit in front of a computer for hours. On the other hand, if you don’t feed them a bit of encouragement, then your kid may find the whole process a little too stale and unexciting. Here are a few educational gifts that you could try in order to spark a bit of interest in coding.
A coding course
Take a look online. There are quite a few coding courses. Since your kids have no idea what good and bad quality looks like, you need to be pretty discriminating. Remember that most courses will dump all their best content at the beginning of the course because that is the bit everybody sees. Near the middle and end, the enthusiasm wanes and the content becomes pretty poor.
Try a course by the people at CodeMonkey. They mix it up with different types of learning formats. Plus, they offer coding games to help explain the different coding concepts. The courses are good for an 8-year-old because they offer concepts and then a sort-of respite while the kids play out those concepts with games. The stop-and-start nature is perhaps better for kids, whereas teens may find that it moves a little too slowly.
This article isn’t going to recommend any of the many coding robots on the market. There are some good ones, but by the time you read this, the robots may have come off the market and the companies behind them have gone bust. You will have to do the research yourself.
That is one of the more frustrating things about coding robots. Even the good ones will go out of business. You spend your time finding the perfect one and then all the sellers are out of stock. Plus, when the companies go bust, they lose their servers and any sort of support, so any thoughts of remote-online command are gone. Nevertheless, if you do your research, you can find several programmable robots, some of which may help your child learn a certain coding language. The robot toys are good because they help demonstrate that the in-computer work (writing code) can have real-world consequences (the robot moves).
Lego build, code, and play toy
Try the Lego BOOST Creative Toolbox for your tween or teenage kid. If it has come off the market, then look for other Lego coding products. Every few years, they bring out coding toys simply because every few years their marketing department identifies a very under-served market demographic. It genuinely is a blue-chip market research motivation, and as mentioned, every few years they bring out a new coding toy with the hopes it will be the next big thing. In the past, there have been several “Big things” in the coding-toys world that have made a lot of money. Below is one example of a coding toy that made a splash and a lot of money.
Fischer Price’s Code-a-Pillar
This is a toy for younger children. It sold like crazy when it was first released, and it lived up to the hype. The Code-a-Pillar is a caterpillar robot with segments that are used as its body. You attach segments, and each segment gives a command to the head of the caterpillar.
So, you start out with just the head, and you add a segment to its back to make the caterpillar a little longer. On the segment is a forward arrow. This is a command and it means the caterpillar will drive forwards. Start the caterpillar and it will drive forwards. However, if you turn it off and add another segment, perhaps one that says run in a circle. Turn on the caterpillar and it will drive forwards and then go in a circle. Add segments to add more commands and then turn on the caterpillar and it does them for you. Again, this is a toy for younger children, but it is a great way of teaching kids the foundation basics of programming.