Six fun ways to help your children develop their coding skills

There is a Stem skills shortage in the UK which is estimated to cost UK businesses £1.5 billion a year, according to education and careers support organisation STEM Learning.

As a result, there is greater demand than ever to boost young people’s Stem – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – skills.

The Government launched its £20 million Institute of Coding earlier this year in a bid to encourage more essential digital skills for the future, as programming and coding jobs look set to remain a key focus for current and future generations.

So how can you encourage children to develop their coding skills?

Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar

Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar (Fisher-Price)

Fisher Price’s Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar allows you to pave the very early stones in a child’s path towards learning code.

Aimed at ages three to six, the Code-a-Pillar uses different symbols and segments that toddlers have to put in order to make it move and sing.

This will help young ones develop skills such as sequencing, critical thinking, reasoning, discovery, memory, problem solving and experimentation.

Littlebits Arduino Coding Kit

For children aged 14 and up, the littleBits Arduino Coding Kit uses circuitry as a way of teaching the art of programming.

Magnetic littleBits electronic modules and tiny circuit boards with functions such as light and sound can be connected together.

Once assembled, you can build an animatronic hand capable of playing rock, paper, scissors or a DIY Etch A Sketch, for example.

Code Club

If you’re seeking something with more help involved, the Code Club is a free nationwide network of volunteers who are on hand to help those aged between nine and 13.

There are just under 7,000 Code Club locations across the UK, which teach four coding languages.

You can find your nearest Code Club at https://www.codeclub.org.uk/.

Kano

Kano offers a number of coding kits, which most recently included a Harry Potter-themed wand.

The Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit requires you to construct a wand, which features a range of sensors, Bluetooth and a computer brain. When you move it, a cursor appears on the tablet’s screen.

Users can then follow more than 70 coding challenges set in famous Harry Potter locations such as Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, teaching everything from code blocks, loops, logic and variable.

Code Combat

(Code Combat)

Code Combat is an easy-to-use website that uses online games to engage children in coding.

Work your way through a series of challenges to earn crystals and unlock even trickier levels.

You can play along now at https://codecombat.com/play.

Lego Boost Creative Toolbox

If you love Lego, the Boost Creative Toolbox will be an exceptionally fun way into coding.

There are five multifunctional models to build using an accompanying app, which uses an icon-based coding interface to bring life to the robots.

A number of motors and sensors are packed into the kit alongside the all-important Lego pieces.

- Press Association


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