Helping children learn programming doesn’t just make them good programmers, it also enhances their analytical thinking and in fact, this is more important than turning them into coders. And it’s doubly great if they can do this without computers. Remember the BASIC programming language that you used to learn? Even before BASIC you learn that “turtle” thingy where you move the turtle with lines of code. Cobetto is a toy/tool that works on the same line while trying to help children learn programming without making them sit in front of a computer. Here is a video of how Cubetto can help children learn coding by using a moving block and a board.
Programming has got a lot to do with decision-making. Normally when we think of programming, we think of writing code on a computer. But what exactly is programming? It is a collection of decisions. Something triggers the program. An instruction-set takes place. Then something happens and you need to take a decision, for example, whether you need to turn left or turn right. If you turn left, then there is another set of instructions. If you turn right, then there is a totally different set of instructions. And this goes on. This may seem simple, but with hundreds of thousands of lines of code you can build an entire artificial intelligence system. But that comes much later.
Programming and coding is going to become an integral part of studying, using gadgets or even at the workplace. You are writing small batch files, you are writing tasks routines, you are executing database queries, you are creating macros for a spreadsheet and you are creating small programs to accomplish a repetitive tasks; one way or another, you are programming.
In the game of Cubetto, there are “Instruction blocks” of 4 different colours. Each block represents a different programming command. For example, the red block can be used to move forward, blue to turn left, yellow to turn right and the green is the function key.
In the video, you can see the Cubetto block moving according to the instruction blocks arranged on the board. Once you have arranged the instruction blocks you need to press the button that executes the instructions and accordingly the Cubetto block moves. It’s a squarish robot.
The function block can be used to create a set of instructions and then place them in a reusable function block.
If you can get hold of it, I think it can be a very good brain-enhancing game for your kids. Aside from keeping them engaged and entertained for a long time, it can also help your kids learn programming without sitting in front of a computer.