Pre-Schoolers and Kindergarten is a great age to begin the concept of following algorithms and coding. You are truly giving students an opportunity to find new ways of thinking and allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them forcing them to think another way. However, some might say this is quite a challenge when there is a lot of research to show that screen time for children is not necessarily a good thing. That is where "unplugged" activities and games come into play. "Robot Races" by ALEX toys is an easy, engaging and fun way to introduce this concept.. Now this game can be easily created but I figured the $12 price tag that I paid was light enough on the wallet, although I believe the price has gone up more since I bought it. Made for ages 4+, the kids create a path from start to finish and place activity blocks down. The idea is to use the included timer and see who can create the faster path. However, with Pre-K and Kindergarten we did not use the timer. They were just excited to get up and move!
It was very interesting to see the different ways each child took to complete the path from start to finish. Some students made paths that went from start to finish with no actions, while others purposefully made paths that went through each of the actions so they could do jumping jacks and spin in circles.
I would highly recommend activities like this. I used this in my Pre-K classes, Kindergarten and Life Skills classes. All of them wanted to play and create paths and then make a challenge for someone else. Once we learned this activity, it became a station the kids could play, however it did require a good bit of continued guidance from myself. As a follow-up activity to take things to the next level, I introduced students to Botley Coding robots and Fischer Price Code-a-pillar. I'll follow up with those activities in one of my next posts.