Trying to learn coding with your kids? Let’s start with the few mini games below and get your kids concept cleared out and practice logical thinking in a fun way!
Game 1 – Paint my mind
This game is to introduce the concept of ‘instructions’ in programming. It refers to stating clearly, step by step, the tasks you wish the computer to fulfil. The digital brain only functions as expected when the given directions are logical and precise. Let’s see how it works!
- Split into 2 teams, parent vs kids
- Prepare a pen and some papers for each team
- Children begin by drawing on the paper without letting their parents see it; it can be a cartoon character or a pattern. If he likes iron man and iron man shall be! May Elsa, Sponge Bob, transformers? Anything!
- Children shall describe verbally to their parents what they have drawn. They cannot just name the item, but have to describe it bit by bit
- Parent shall listen to the ‘instructions’ and draw as wildly as they want!
- When done, compare the drawings
You will then realize the big difference between the two! This brings us to a discussion with the kids on how to give instructions in details – on the descriptions of the object itself and descriptions on spatial distribution of it to the paper and in relation to the other objects. That’s the tip to the master this game, and to approaching programming.
Game 2 – The machine expert
Another concept in coding is ‘Function’. It runs like a machine; an input will lead to a correspondent output. Take juice machine as an example, we add the raw material in (can be any fruit of your choice), it then produces fruit juice (if apple is the input, then apple juice shall be the output). Yet, the machine is far from brainy, so if we don’t give the instructions, it is not going to produce anything. Yet once the machine is built with instructions pre-set, it can be reused on a long-term basis. So here comes the exercise to learn this concept!
- Parent imagines a machine and the user instructions. For example, the instructions for a juice machine would be to peel the skin of a fruit, remove the seeds, cut them into smaller pieces, drop them to a shave, press with a stone, and there comes the output – juice!
- Based on this example, parents can test the kid with more complex machine. Ask them of the potential input & output and what the instructions could be
- To strengthen the logic for application, you can connect the output of machine A to be the input of machine B, and see if the kid can associate with the procedures
The exercise enables the kids to slow down and breakdown production into sub-steps in order to achieve the outcome. You can guide them with questions which It help them to visualize the procedures in between of the input and the output.
Game 3 – Maze runner
As straightforward as it is, ‘Loop’ implies cycle and repeated appearance. This is a common concept when comes to giving instructions. Through repeating, we can simplify the instructions.
- Build a maze with lego
- Let the kid verbally describe his/ her way out of it from start to end
- Create standardized instruction slips – Start, 1 step forward, turn left, turn right, end
- Let the kid recreate the route with these slips. They will need to use the same slip for a few times to be able to make progress (e.g. 5 ‘1 step forward’ to go 5 forward)
- Create flexible instruction slips like ‘__ steps forward’ to replace the many ‘1 step forward’
- Let the kid recreate the route with the new slips, the solution should be simplified as the repetitive steps are combined into one
- Build more complex maze and brainstorm with the kid for the solution route
Game 4 – The variable
This exercise is for learning the concept of ‘variables’. It may seem to be a complicated concept, let’s use this milk bottle example for better explanation.
We have a full bottle of milk
- How much milk is there if half of it is poured away?
- You pour half of it away again, how much milk is left now?
- Now I pour everything out of the bottle, how much milk is there?
The label ‘Milk’ is the name of the variable; and the change in volume is the variable – the latter can change from full to zero. Similarly, the amount of money the kid saves in his/ her piggy bank is a variable. So are the number of steps we walked each day.Now practice with different examples and invite answers from your children.
These exercises are helpful parent-child interactions that can strengthen the coding concepts to applications. Build your own tool and examples today and see if your children respond fast!