Fun, at-home game to learn early coding (nope, not programming!)
When you hear ‘coding for children’ you may think of STEM toys with complex instructions that promise to give your child a head start in this competitive world. If that sounds overwhelming to you, we agree — we don't think children need these!
In fact, at shumee, we believe that such toys limit a child's ability to explore and learn about the world around them. Our philosophy is that play should be 90% child and 10% toy.
This does not mean we should entirely dismiss the value of coding skills. Consider this — to code a computer program, you will need some foundational understanding of logic. To get there, you have to be able to use different cognitive skills together such as memory, problem solving, and creative thinking. Sharpening these skills and learning to use them together is what we would call coding for children.
You don't need complicated games to help your child learn this. From mazes to puzzles, there are many everyday toys that can promote coding skills. This week’s co create activity is one such fun DIY game that you can make at home!
Benefits of early coding skills
This activity is called Code the Hexagon. It is easy to make, fun to play, and will offer your child a wide range of cognitive benefits. These include:
1. Creativity - Coming up with unique ways to make connections, code faster, and win this game will spark your child’s creative thinking.
2. Problem solving - Matching the pompoms with the right number and color will hone their problem solving skills.
3. Hand-eye coordination - Moving the pompoms with the tongs and placing them in right the bottle caps will improve their hand-eye coordination.
4. Teamwork - If your child is playing this with a group of kids, they will learn teamwork skills to work efficiently together.
5. Presentation - Creating the shape of the hexagon and filling it with colorful pompoms will make them pay attention to the importance and benefits of beautiful presentation.
6. Resilience - Since this game requires focus and patience to master, your child will develop the resilience to stick with something and complete it.
7. Authentic learning - Matching the numbers, colors, and creating their own ways to code will allow for authentic learning.
Creating the Hexagon
This activity can be enjoyed by children between 3.6 to 6 years
1. Bottle caps (depending on how big you want your hexagon, you can keep 15-20 caps)
2. A piece of cardboard
3. A paper cutter
4. A hot glue gun or white glue
5. Dot stickers of different colors
7. A pen or marker
8. A pair of child-safe tongs
How to make the hexagon:
1. Cut the cardboard in the shape of a hexagon. Leaving a margin of 2 inches on all sides, arrange and glue the bottle caps on it in the same shape.
2. Write numbers from 1 to 5 on a single color of dot stickers and stick them in any random order inner each bottle cap.
3. Write numbers from 1 to 5 on colored dot stickers and stick them on top of the cardboard.
Playing with the Hexagon
Ask your child to connect a number in the bottle cap with the matching dot sticker on top. Note the color of the dot sticker. They then have to use their tongs to pick up pompomps of that color and drop it into all the bottle caps with the corresponding number. Keep playing until you fill up the whole hexagon with colorful pompoms!
Once they get comfortable with the game, you can time them and ask them to try completing it faster. If they have siblings or when friends come over, you could make it into a challenge to see who finishes quicker. If there are four or more children, create 2 hexagons and split them into teams. See which team wins the coding cup!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this activity. If you would like to share your experience playing with this hexagon, tag us at #CoCreatewithshumee. Stay home and stay safe!
Aisha Chandarana creates DIY activities with cardboard and nature elements, providing amazing play experiences for children. You can follow her @toontots on Instagram.