Hands-On Coding Games for Preschoolers
Get answers to top parenting questions here. Did this specific Top Picks list help you decide to do any of the following? Sometimes you can’t stay connected, hands-On Coding Games for Preschoolers these apps will let the fun continue!
As teens move on to more complex math concepts, they can use these tools to keep pace. These apps are bizarre in the best ways — and they offer learning opportunities. Though these tools are great for all kids, they have special appeal for kids who need an extra challenge. Perfect picks if you have a Minecraft fan on your hands. News websites designed for a young audience. Step into others’ shoes with these great games.
ESL/EFL Songs for Kids
Connect the local to the global. These online resources keep kids of all ages healthy and informed. Kids can explore a variety of people and perspectives. Get involved in issues that affect communities around the world. Can kids learn and have fun at the same time? Help kids put themselves in the shoes of others.
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Educational goodies that won’t break the bank. Programming is the new literacy all kids can benefit from. Help your kids build friendships and gain world know-how as they gear up for their first years of school. Explore art, science, and history from around the world. Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.
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Did this specific Top Picks list help you decide to do any of the following? Computer programming can help kids develop vital problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. In honor of the computer science nonprofit Code. It also encourages kids to become creators and not simply consumers of technology. Teaching everything from simple commands to complex programs, our favorite coding apps and websites come in a range of formats designed for different ages and abilities.
STEM topics and our Learning with Technology topic center. Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free. Race cars to learn early programming skills in cute coder.
Dancing caterpillar gives young kids easy intro to coding. Kids learn bite-sized coding concepts, listen to cute songs. Fun, basic game gives limited idea of how coding works. Cutesy coding intro just barely scratches the surface.
Fun programming logic for kids, great resources for parents. Colorful, engaging intro to programming for young kids. Tool helps kids program their first multimedia project. Simple coding game full of cutesy flash. Cute, free coding game covers the basics. Story-based coding adventure plus diverse girl-empowerment.
Girl-targeted STEM ambitious but somewhat shallow. Hybrid toys give kids unique, hands-on coding practice. Expressive coder is cute but lacks tutorials, support. Fun coding puzzler helps kids ease in to complex concepts. Puzzle-based platformer teaches kids actual code. Maze puzzler makes learning programming an adventure.
4. Learn Focus
Graphical application gives kids a taste of programming. Cute coding adventure introduces logic of computer science. Solve puzzles, help the monkey, learn to program. Lights, camera, coding action in fun programming puzzler.
Eerie, cool coding puzzler pushes too hard for contact info. Challenging puzzler teaches kids to think like programmers. Easy-to-use visual tool makes programming fun and social. Challenging programming puzzler teaches coding logic. Learning feels like play in sleek, approachable coder.
Fun programming lessons from a friendly monster guide. Game creator has great potential but steep learning curve. Download gives good background on coding, so-so instruction. Mimo: Learn how to code through interactive tutorials and quizzes!
Mini-lessons build big coding know-how for tweens to adults. Fantastic online editor teaches kids to write the Web. Smart site gives teens hands-on experience with coding. Code-free iOS app builder has steep learning curve. Easy programming tool teaches basics, has online sharing. Master art of coding with awesome free programming lessons. Free coding classes, lots of user-generated examples.
Cool, accessible coding lessons come with a hefty price tag. Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D. Please forward this error screen to 198. Wirecutter supports our readers with thousands of hours of reporting and testing to help you find the stuff you need in order to live a better life.
You support us through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Read more about what we do. We’ve added the Hape Foxy Tote Sewing Kit, which had been out of stock, back to the crafts section. We don’t think there’s a right or wrong way for kids to play.
For this kid-oriented gift guide, we focused on learning toys—open-ended games, kits, toys and crafts that promote lifelong skills like critical thinking, problem solving, logic, and even coding. And, of course, we spent some time playing with our picks at home with our own kids. Here are the learning toys we love. We think the kids in your life will love them too. Please choose a newsletter to subscribe to.
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The types of toys featured in this guide are often called STEM toys because they can help develop skills that would be useful in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These toys are open-ended, adaptive, flexible, provocative, and, most importantly, fun. We’re not saying these toys will make kids into future inventors, programmers, or poets. Mostly we like these toys—and think the kids in your life will like them too—because they are open-ended, adaptive, flexible, provocative, and, most importantly, fun. In fact, some research in child development has shown that kids have more fun with toys that help them learn.
To identify toys and games for this guide, we visited Katherine Delmar Burke School, an all-girls K-8 school in San Francisco. We spoke with Mike Matthews, the director of curriculum and program innovation at Burke’s, and Jenny Howland, the kindergarten-through-4th-grade technology teacher, to find out what they think makes a good learning toy and which ones would be good choices for kids to play with at home. We tried out a number of games, toys, and kits in their lab ourselves and learned which ones have been most successful—and fun—for the students. We also talked to Wirecutter staff with kids in their lives to find out their favorite learning toys, paying particular attention to recommendations we received from multiple sources. Burke’s learning lab, by parents on our staff, or both. For the 2017 update to this guide, we’ve added a recommendation from our guide The Best Robotics Kits for Beginners, for which we spent an additional 35 hours researching and testing the best kits for learning robotics.
Open-ended: Whether a simple set of building blocks or a codable robot, the toys we recommend here can be played with, disassembled, reassembled, and interacted with in a variety of ways. Many of the games have no single solution and require the players to collaborate. These qualities spur kids toward creativity, exploration, and a deeper understanding of rules, patterns, logic, and how things work. The toys we recommend don’t force kids to follow a specific set of instructions, but rather encourage play through experimentation, exploration, and trial and error. Replayable: Most of the toys and games on our list can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, either because they offer different modes or difficulty levels, or because they allow increasingly complex interactions as the player builds skills.
This means kids of multiple ages can play together and that a toy can grow with a kid. All the toys we chose have been vetted by kids—either enjoyed regularly in classrooms and the Makery lab at Burke’s, by our own staffers’ kids, or both. Like chess, the ultimate learning game, these analog games are logic-based, multi-solution, and require planning moves in advance. They also offer new challenges, fun storylines and brightly colored pieces and game boards.
The deceptively simple sets have few pieces and are easily packable for play in the car or at friends’ houses, but each offers multiple modes of play and delightfully tough logic puzzles. Rush Hour, a single-player game which has brightly colored pieces that snap onto the game board, was recommended by the teachers at Burke’s. Using different challenge configurations, the player has to move other cars so the red car can make its way out of a traffic jam. 2 but in our experience, different challenge modes can make it fun for kids in 1st and 2nd grade as well as older elementary. Wirecutter writer Doug Mahoney says his 7-year-old loves it, and his 4-year-old even plays along too. Three Little Piggies, which requires positioning the three little pigs’ houses in different ways to keep them safe from the big bad wolf, is a hit with the kindergartners at Burke’s but also offers more challenging play modes for older kids. According to ongoing research by early childhood education specialists at Eastern Connecticut State University who rank toys according to how well they promote thinking, problem solving, social interaction and creativity among young kids, one of the best-performing toys is a simple set of wooden blocks.
Here’s what parents should look for – and how to help children cope.
Kids figure out how the triangles, squares, and pentagons fit together to create 3D structures like geodesic domes and trapezoidal bridges, introducing basic concepts of geometry and engineering. This 250-piece set of connectable pieces have ball joints that snap into U-shaped brackets, allowing kids to build shapes and structures with curves, bends and joints. The basic Zoob set is great for kids six and up, though parents should be aware that it contains Lego-sized pieces and requires a similar level of dexterity. Is basically what you’d guess: a big box of colored gears that snap together with axles and extenders to create complex, moveable structures.
The challenge is figuring out how to align and order the gears so they’ll all turn in unison and not get jammed up. Wirecutter writer Chris Heinonen says his 4-year-old and 6-year-old have the gears set in their room and build with it all the time. Lots of the time it’s just seeing how large of a thing they can build and still have all the gears turn. Wirecutter editor Harry Sawyers has a set as well, and his 2- and 4-year-old enjoy it together. It’s pretty loud, especially on bigger projects, so keep that in mind if you have a baby or another kid sleeping nearby. Each of these kits can be played with on its own to experiment with connections, signals and inputs and to understand how electronic circuits and computing systems work. But the real fun comes when you use them as the electronic guts and brains for your own projects.
Colors designate their types: blue for power sources, pink for inputs, green for outputs and orange for wires. Mike Matthews, the curriculum director at Burke’s. The ready-to-go circuits may also spark a deeper interest in learning the fundamentals of circuit theory and transitioning to experimenting with breadboards and wiring on their own. Wirecutter’s Chris Heinonen says the components and instructions are accessible enough that his 6-year-old and 4-year-old play with the circuits together, sometimes draining batteries in the process. The computer can pair with any display with an HDMI port, so you can use it with your TV or home monitor.
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Or, you can buy Kano’s Screen Kit, which includes a carrying case for the whole computer. Kano’s OS, and use a number of other free apps available through Kano. Robots are increasingly making their ways into the classroom, and some computer science and educational researchers have concluded that robots have great potential for allowing kids as young as four to engage with technology, programming, and engineering and to develop abstract skills like storytelling, creativity, and visual memory. Or, check out our full guide on beginner robot kits. Dash is one of the best-designed robots for kids imaginable.
Mike Matthews of Burke’s told me. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade use Dash in the classroom to learn programming, geometry, algorithms, and more. Bluetooth-enabled, rechargeable, and rolls agilely on three wheels in response to voice cues or app-based commands from an Android or iOS device. Five included apps let you manipulate, program, design new behaviors, and play music with the robot. Older kids can use Dash’s introductory-level programming app, Blockly, which lets them build nested commands with conditionals, loops, triggers and algorithms. Thanks to the familiarity of Lego pieces, the 847-piece Lego Boost is one of the easiest and most fun to build among kits of its size.
And because any Lego block can be used, there’s a massive opportunity for expansion right out of the box. The Lego Boost also has more add-ons than other kits we tested. Many traditional crafts have a great deal to teach kids about engineering, math, and design. In Burke’s Makery Lab, students experiment with a range of crafts—knitting, sewing, felting, weaving—alongside mechanical and electrical engineering projects. A lot of crafting is exactly that: discovering how different materials work together.
Howland says she keeps a variety of supplies on hand like burlap, yarn, needles, lace, embroidery hoops, doilies, cork, paper clips, and more to allow her students to experiment with techniques and materials. Because older kids can use adult-sized tools and materials, and because not everyone has a closet full of craft supplies, we focused here on ready-to-go kits designed to introduce small hands to handicrafts. Wirecutter staff writer Jackie Reeve recommends Hape’s animal-shaped craft kits, such as the Foxy Tote Sewing Kit, as a way to get kids as young as 4 started with simple sewing projects. The felt pieces have precut holes along the seams and come with plastic needles and string that are suited for small hands and developing fine motor skills. The New York Times is our parent company. Our families have played with some toys outside of the official age range recommendations. If in doubt, parents should defer to the age ranges printed on the boxes, especially regarding choking hazards for younger kids.
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The CPSC has more info on this topic. I was surprised no mention of The Empathy Toy. Made a pretty big splash last year. It’s a subscription box service, but instead of funky snacks you get science experiments! I’ve taught outreach for 3rd grade through high school and used a lot of similar activities. They have everything you need to run them at home.