Can Children Learn Coding Without A Computer?

Children learn much faster than adults so introducing them to coding at a young age means they will be at an advantage.

Can Children Learn Coding Without A Computer?

However if you don’t want your children to be engaging in even more screen time you may wonder can children learn coding without a computer?

We take a look at this to see what other ways children can learn coding and get used to computational thinking at a young age. 

Is It Possible For Children To Learn Coding Unplugged?

Unplugged coding is learning how to code without using a computer, and it is certainly possible. In fact, it can be just as beneficial and effective as learning to code with a computer and can improve other soft skills(see also: 6 Amazing Best Coding Programs For Kids To Improve Their Skills).

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, helping kids learn coding without a computer can boost their confidence and their learning. It can also help you to bond with your child in a way that isn’t possible when using a computer. 

There are other benefits of learning to code without a computer including equipping children with problem-solving skills, critical thinking and logical reasoning.

It also allows them to collaborate with other children, so they can learn about teamwork and relationship building. 

Benefits Of Unplugged Coding Activities

There are several benefits of learning to code without a computer. One of them is removing the intimidation factor of learning computational skills at the same time as learning how to code.

This can overwhelm some children and cause a barrier to their learning. 

As mentioned above it also equips children with critical thinking and teaches them the art of collaboration and persistence. 

Learning without a computer helps kids to focus on the activity. While learning to code on a computer is beneficial, in some respects it can also be very distracting. 

Downsides Of Learning To Code Without A Computer

There are also some disadvantages to learning coding offline. One of these is that it may be difficult for some children to see the connection between the game they are playing with pen and paper and how it relates to a computer. 

Children may also not find working without a computer as exciting and not pay as much attention to what they are learning and how it applies to coding(see also: 7 Reasons Why Children Should Learn Coding). 

Finally, without a computer learning to code (see also: What Is The Best Age For A Child To Learn Coding?)may take longer. Although, if unplugged learning is co-taught alongside work with a computer then this can reduce screen time for kids while simultaneously reinforcing the concept of coding. 

Coding Activities For Children Without Using A Computer?

So what are some of the coding activities that children can do without a computer? There are lots of apps that can be used on either an iPad or a phone, but it is also possible to teach kids about coding with pen and paper. 

You can also use toys such as Lego or specific unplugged coding activities that can be printed off or are available as board games. 

Instructed Map Route

To teach children about coding, have them map out a route around a room and place some obstacles in the way. Now they need to write a set of instructions for someone to walk the route with a blindfold on or with their eyes closed. 

The instructions need to guide the person safely from the start point to the finishing point while avoiding the obstacles. The directions should include the number of steps, direction to move in and how to navigate the objects in the way. 

Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles is a board game that can teach children how to code without a computer. This is suitable for kids as young as preschool age. It provides computational skills without using a computer and encourages critical thinking. 

The objective is to get each Robot Turtle to a jewel by overcoming obstacles and increasingly difficult levels. The turtles follow Code Cards, moving forward, left and right. Players can also use a Bug Card to undo a move if they make a mistake. 

Binary Bracelets

Binary Bracelets are one of the simplest forms of computer coding without a computer and are suitable for early learners.

This is a hands-on activity that introduces students to the concept of binary code and helps them understand this idea of computational thinking. 

The coding system uses 0 or 1 to represent a digit, letter or character in a computer and is the primary way that computers receive, send or store information. Children can use binary code to make bracelets that represent their names or other words. 

Hello Ruby

For young learners Hello Ruby is a wonderful way to learn coding without a computer. This is a coding story and activity all in one. It helps children to break large problems down into smaller problems, to look for patterns and create step by step plans. 

Each chapter of Hello Ruby provides a lesson in computational thinking and includes exercises that encourage creativity and play. The character of Ruby is a girl who is determined to solve every puzzle encouraging children to do the same. 

Lego Maze

Lego Maze

The free printable Lego Maze is a great 3D way for kids to learn (see also: A Dozen Ways To Learn With A Dozen Legos)about coding. Children as young as 5 or 6 can attempt the easiest challenges with this hands-on activity.  There are four levels of difficulty getting gradually more challenging. 

The code is printed out on paper and children can use it to move their Lego figure through the maze. It helps kids develop the skill of switching reference frames from themselves to their Lego character. 

Teach A Robot To Stack Cups

This is an activity in which children create a set of instructions or algorithms on how a robot should stack cups. They learn how to convert real world actions into instructions and this teaches them how to think like a coder or programmer. 

Kids can then challenge each other to create the best way for their respective robots to stack the cups. It can also teach them the skill of debugging as well as the connection between symbols and actions. 

Code Monkey Island

A great board game to teach children coding without a computer Code Monkey Island is a fun family activity. The rules take around a minute to learn, and the whole game takes about 45 minutes to play. 

The game teaches children fundamental programming concepts such as logic and code syntax. It is suitable for kids aged six and up and can be played by two to four people. 

Scratch Books

Scratch is the world’s biggest coding community for kids. Its coding language uses a simple visual interface which lets young children create digital games, animations and stories. It promotes computational thinking, creative learning, and problem-solving skills. 

There are lots of books aimed at young children to help them with coding activities in Scratch. These step-by-step visual guides help kids to build their own computer games and can be used with an iPad or Android phone. 

Final Thoughts

The world is becoming more technologically oriented, so it is perhaps a good thing to introduce children to coding at a young age. 

We hope you have found this guide to coding without a computer helpful and informative. 

Suzy Anderson
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