Teach Preschoolers to Code with "Robot Turtles" Game!
I was just at the store shopping for my toddler's birthday and I found an awesome game! It is actually designed to teach very young children the basic principles of programming.
"Robot Turtles" is apparently the most-backed board game in the history of Kickstarter - and I can understand why. The game is for ages 3 to 8. It was made by a father of four-year-old twins who wanted to gift them a head start on very valuable programming skills. So he made a sneaky method of teaching them some of the principles with Robot Turtles - without having to use a computer or be able to read. Robot Turtles is a very simple little programming language based on Logo.
You can read more details about how the game works here (scroll down a bit): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danshapiro/robot-turtles-the-board-game-for-little-programmer
I also included their video after the images.
According to that (now finished) Kickstarter site, here are the programming principles Robot Turtles can teach your little ones:
"- Experiential learning. Kids start the game the same way they start programming – at the command line. Every instruction they issue is executed immediately. They quickly discover that they can learn by trying things out.
- Debugging. The “Bug” undo feature offers the simple confidence that they can try anything. If it doesn’t work out, they know they can back up and try again. For new computer learners, discovering that there’s no cost for being wrong is essential to their growth.
- Limited syntax. Computer programming is about expressing complicated ideas with just a few simple building blocks. The first time they play, kids will want to tell you what to do, or point the cards sideways to make them do something different. Learning Robot Turtles is a process of learning to use a new, simple language to express complicated thoughts.
- Order of operations. It’s quickly apparent that “forward, forward, right” is very different from “right, forward, forward”.
- Planning a program. There’s nothing more cool then when kids graduate to “Play 3” and “Write Program” and you see them planning out the whole course in their heads. Just like real programmers, they mentally run their code and debug it. Then they get frustrated and just try it to see what happens… also like real programmers.
- Functions and optimizations. Although the youngest turtle masters may not be old enough for Write Program and Function Frog, this offers slightly older kids a level of abstraction and challenge on par with “real” programming. Yes, kindergartners can refactor code!
- Computers work for you. Somewhere along the line, programmers learn that writing code isn’t like doing your homework – it’s like ordering around a devoted (if not very bright) servant. Guess what? You are the computer and they get to order you around. (That’s why kids love this game!)"
There's a lot more than the tabletop game available. If you go to the website (link attached), you'll see that they've made an interactive ebook in which you can "explore the world of Beep, the Robot Turtle, and learn about functions at story time. Melt ice walls, knock over tables, and meet Hopper the Function Frog. 32 pages, fully illustrated. Includes an interactive touch & click- version & a printable version." There are also other free coloring sheets and other activities you can sign up for.
By the way, I have no stake at all in this game, just found it, thought it was awesome and wanted to share! The same goes for all the other Games for Tots that I have been posting in my collection: http://www.vingle.net/collections/1594040