Interactive Coding for Kids
- What: Osmo Coding Awbie Game
- When: 5 years and up
- Why: Learn to code
- Where: Amazon or Osmo
If you haven’t tried Osmo, the gaming accessory works with iPads, iPhones, and Fire tablets. Base packs come with a holder and reflector attachment for tablets, and then you can buy various games to expand your kid’s option. All of the games feature educational materials. The games come in a variety of levels.
While my kids played our original games like tangrams and words, they fell in love with the coding program, called Coding Awbie. Awbie, an ambiguous pale blue character with long arms, stubby legs, and a huge smile, appeals to all three of my kids, ages 4 to 8. While my four year old can’t quite manage the computations needed to succeed at each level, he loves to watch.
Kids combine physical coding blocks in different orders to move Awbie around his world. The levels start off simple for kids with zero coding experience, and build from there. Kids can collect strawberries as points to build better environments for Awbie. My kids can’t wait to upgrade at each new level. For instance, at the start, Awbie has a campsite with very little in it. Kids can upgrade his tent site, his campfire, and water feature. Awbie also has a garden of strawberries to tend, which he can then harvest to earn more credits.
Coding Awbie works for one kid or multiple kids playing cooperatively to build code and collect strawberries on a variety of different maps. Aimed at ages 5 to 12, it moves as fast or slow as your kids do with increasingly difficult coding challenges. Because they move physical block pieces around to solve problems, it helps the logic stick in their brains. As an added bonus, once they build a stack of code blocks, the screen previews the path created by the pattern of moves. Kids have an opportunity to review their work before hitting the play button and watching what happens. The game has no penalty for mistakes, so kids can try as many times as it takes to perfect their code. Each level can be passed without collecting every treat, so the game offers a wide range of passing scores. The more you collect, the more you earn, but kids can move on without collecting every point.
While the setup doesn’t come cheap, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of our set. Although the actual game stays fairly quiet, it generates a fair amount of noise as my kids constantly talk back and forth about what they see, do, and earn. But I feel good about the electronic interaction, and I can’t say that about many tablet games.
Awbie doesn’t come with the base kit, so you’ll need to buy that as well, though you can usually grab both items in a set for your choice of hardware.