How to Teach Coding without Tech
With most kids’ screen time at an all-time high, a lot of parents are looking for fun ways to help their children learn (and keep them occupied for half an hour!) without a computer or tablet… If that sounds like you, keep reading and discover how to help your kids learn valuable coding skills without a screen:
What is coding?
First, what is coding? If you’re not a technophile the word ‘coding’ will probably either mean nothing or send you into a cold sweat… but the definition isn’t as complicated as you might imagine. Simply put, coding is the use of instructions to get computers to do what you want. Coding is used to build websites, send emails, make apps work… and is likely to be an important part of many future careers.
There are lots of fun ways we can introduce our children to the basics and give them a head start.
Create a treasure hunt
A key aspect of coding is being able to understand and give instructions – and we all know this can be challenging for little ones who have a hard time listening!
Help your children practice their coding AND listening skills with a simple treasure hunt which requires them to follow exact movements. For example: Take 2 steps forward, 3 steps left, lift the pillow… etc. If they get an action wrong, ask them to start again and try switching roles so they get a turn at being the ‘programmer’ too.
Use paper and arrows
For coding fun even your toddler can take part in, make arrow cards with pen and paper and use them to ‘program’ in your child’s movement. Set out 3-4 arrows in a line, facing different directions, and ask your child to follow the instructions to cross the room or move toy vehicles. If they’re finding it too easy, add more and more instructions to make it more challenging. You could also add in different shapes to symbolise other actions, like jump or roll.
Practice sorting and pattern making
For youngest coders, try hands-on activities which help them to sort things into order and create patterns. You could gather toys and ask your child to sort into categories of the same sort (colours, texture, size) or have them practice lining things up from small to large. Our cut and stick printables are great for that!
Pattern making can be done with lego, beads, playdough, pens or things you find from nature too… whatever your child takes an interest in.
Do lots of puzzles
One of the basics of coding is being able to see a bigger picture and bring all the little elements together to create it – which makes puzzles a brilliant way to practice the sort of problem solving required! Next time you hand over a puzzle, know you’re helping them do some important learning right there.
Try these board games
For a no–prep, no–screen way to learn coding, I’ve heard great things about these board games:
- Robot Turtles – the most backed board game in Kickstarter history is aimed at pre-schoolers and brings the concept of programming together with lots of silliness and adorable turtles
- Code & Go Mouse Mania – children learn to programme Colby the robotic mouse to get the cheese through a maze they build themselves
- Rush Hour Jr. – Not specifically a coding game but great for enhancing coding and problem skills, kids must create a path for the ice cream truck to exit by sliding the vehicles back and forth.
Build Lego sets
As coding is about creating and/or following a step-by-step guide which produces a desired result, building Lego sets is another great way to help children build the understanding needed. Challenge your child to follow the instructions exactly on their own and teach them not to panic if they go wrong, and how to retrace their steps to correct errors.