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To prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s world, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is now an exciting and engaging part of the national curriculum.

While the aim is to build confidence in children who are growing up in an increasingly tech-driven and connected world, learning coding and programming gives children the chance to develop a wide range of related skills that benefit them across multiple aspects of learning.

Learning coding encourages many STEM capabilities including if-then thinking, creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It also helps them develop interpersonal skills including communication, collaboration, and builds resilience.

The fundamentals of coding can be introduced at a young age, and children as young as four can grasp basic coding, computation, and STEM concepts when learned through play.

There are lots of ways to make the subject content come to life for young children through fun, screen-free, play-based activities that are easy to do in a variety of learning settings. Here's some examples: 

Take it offline

Coding is about so much more than accessing a screen. An if-then game can introduce children to the concept of a conditional statement in programming. Try this activity with small groups where one child is the programmer, and everyone else is the computer. The programmer gives the computer a command such as “if I turn in a circle, then you turn in a circle”. The programmer can then make the if-then statement longer and more complicated. By repeating the statement, children learn about coding concepts such as loops.

Take it outdoors

Physical activities that engage the senses are easy to do and bring coding concepts to life for young children with the additional benefit of developing gross motor skills. For this activity use pavement chalk to draw boxes on a path that connect to one another. They do not need to be in a straight line. In each box, draw an arrow pointing to the next or an action (e.g. clap, hop, spin x2). The path should start at one box and finish at the end. This teaches kids how to follow instructions - aka an algorithm!

Use peer-to-peer learning

Small group activities are great for letting children make meaningful connections to coding concepts by experimenting, exploring, and practising for themselves. Children who have more advanced understanding can help build the other children’s knowledge and engaging in peer-to-peer activities also gives children the chance to develop key interpersonal skills as they have fun learning through play with their friends.

Use live, hands-on demonstrations

Live, interactive demonstrations where children can see concepts in action and join in creates a rich, active learning experience. Educational toys such as the award-winning Botley® 2.0 the Coding Robot, and Code & Go® Robot Mouse Activity Set are both perfect for demonstrating coding concepts in a fun, playful, and exciting way. They’re bright, colourful, easy to use, screen-free, and hands-on, and are designed to make STEM learning approachable and accessible to children with a variety of interests.

This article has been taken from Little Learners, our FREE early years magazine full of resources, inspiration, ideas, and activities. Click here to read our latest issue.

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