Learning to program can sound scary and difficult. In fact, many adults have no idea what coding is. Passing instructions to a car to program it for something can be a little easier. If you play with such toys from childhood, you will not be afraid.
Kids under 4 can learn the basics of coding with Coding Critters, interactive pets from Learning Resources.
Encoding seems to be too complicated for preschoolers, but this educational toy makes it easy to understand the principles of coding as early as preschool age. Each kit comes with an interactive pet, a 22-piece playset and a book that introduces the pet on a personal level by telling its story.
And no screens or apps!
The arrows at the top are for entering codes.
The toy has two modes: encode and play.
Children can put the Coding Critter pet in "code mode" to enter directions using the arrows. If you press the forward, backward, left, and right arrows, you enter a sequence of up to 30 steps. The Coding Critter toy has wheels that allow it to roll according to the directions given by the children.
The included book instructs children on how to follow simple coding commands so that their pet can learn to complete different tasks.
For example, in the canine-themed Coding Critter set, Ranger is playing in the yard when his friend Zip (another Coding Critter also included in the set) decides to hide from him. Children can look at the photo to arrange the play set in a certain way so that Zip will hide behind a tree, and then program the instructions to help the Ranger find Zip. After the children enter the code into the toy by pressing the arrows on the Ranger's back, our hero will turn and go from point A to point B, bringing the story from the book to life.
There are three different sets in the series: a dog-themed set starring Ranger and Zip, a cat-themed set (starring Scamper and Snaker), and a dinosaur-themed set (starring Rumble and Bumble).
The pets, accessories, and stories are different in each of these sets, so kids can work with multiple sets if they enjoy coding.
In a set with dogs, as we described above, children encode a pet to find a friend; in a set with cats - we code a kitten for chasing a thread; with dinosaurs we will beat boulders and perform other tasks.
And if you switch your pet to "play mode", then you can turn it into a regular interactive pet. In this mode, the arrows take on alternative meanings - feed, patrol, dance, have a siesta, and pamper your pet. This way children will be able to take care of their pet in different ways, and he will react in response with funny sounds.
The toy provides early exposure to STEM concepts.