Programming isn’t something that has to be done sitting in front of a computer. Your kids can learn the concept of queuing up a series of instructions with programmable toys. Some that don’t require the ability to read. Here is a list of toys that teach programming, arranged by age from youngest to oldest.
Bee-Bot is a great introduction to programming for very young kids who haven’t learned their letters or numbers yet. Bee-Bot is a robotic toy from Terrapin, that runs a variant of the Terrapin Logo language that’s similar to KinderLogo, a simplified version of Logo that includes commands but not parameters.
With traditional Logo programming, most instructions consist of a command, followed by a parameter. For example,
FD 100 tells the turtle (or bee, in this case) to move forward 100 units. Or
RT 90 tells the turtle to turn right 90 degrees. But the Bee-Bot is for kids who haven’t yet learned letters or numbers. The Bee-Bot has buttons for forward, backward, right and left. Each of those numbers has an assumed parameter. For example, the left and right instructions will always turn the Bee-Bot by 90 degrees. So you can make the Bee-Bot make a complete 360-degree turn with four button presses, rather than a
RT instruction with a
After you press a few command buttons, you press the “Go” button, and the Bee-Bot executes your program. It will beep and blink its eyes when it finishes running your program. There are accessories available for the Bee-Bot, such as a set of cards that represent the command buttons that parents or teachers can use to record a representation of the computer program that kids enter into the Bee-Bot. This teaches the foundations of computer programming visually, before kids can read. And before little girls have been brainwashed into believing that computer programming is only for boys.