10 New Ways to Teach Programming to Toddlers

We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

toddler playing tablet using programming software

There are a few things we know for sure about toddlers. First, don’t let all the pooping and messy eating fool you, they’re really smart. They’re learning a ton of information every day, and remembering it, sometimes a little too well.

We know that the best period for new language acquisition is before age seven, and we know that when these kids are old enough to hit the workforce, even more jobs will require them to know how to code. So why not make it easy on them by teaching them how to program during the time when (in theory) it’ll be the easiest to learn?

This is exactly the thinking that drives the many projects popping up all the time that aim to teach younger kids to think like a computer programmer. If your kids can pick this up early, there’s no limit to what they’ll be able to accomplish.

While we feel your toddler may very well be able to tackle the products we’ve already covered, we thought it would be fun to see what else is out there in the world of toddler programming.

baby dressed as adult pointing to blackboard with pointer

ABCs of the Web

ABCs of the Web is your toddler’s fundamental portal to how we surf the Internet. Before jumping into how to code, your child needs to learn their ABCs. What better way to learn the alphabet than by exemplifying the basic building blocks of the web? The key here is repetition. No one should be under the assumption that toddlers will understand anything in this book beyond the cute pictures, but engrossing your little one in a world of STEM you are laying the building blocks of their future development.


baby sitting on rug with camera in one hand and crayon in the other surrounded by coloring and art utensils

Girls Who Code Baby Code Art

Girls Who Code Baby Code Art takes a different approach in familiarizing your child in the world of programming. For starters, the book shows a baby making different types of art and on the same page demonstrates how software accomplishes the same activity. The book goes as far as even showing snippets of code that accomplish the particular event. For example, taking a picture and the command that tells the shutter to open and close.


Cat sitting at computer typing with glasses on The ABC's of programming

The ABCs of Programming

 This book teaches the alphabet using vocabulary that directly relates to coding. This is a great supplement to the other books in this list, and the rhymes contained within are a breath of fresh air. While lots of books aimed at toddlers teach the alphabet, ABCs of Programming goes the extra mile with its witty vocabulary. Associating rhyming phrases with letters and words takes this book beyond the standard  2 to 3-year-old toddler range, and makes it appropriate for pre-schoolers as well.


baby sitting on carpet with computer and mouse keyboard dog and robot in hand

Girls Who Code Baby Code!

This book is very similar in concept to the art book in the same series. The main concept focuses on activities that toddlers do in their daily lives and how the same thing can be done via programming. Remember, the objective for toddlers is to teach them how their world functions in relation to their everyday routine. It’s instilling an idea that’s important. If your toddler can understand that computers are not magical devices powered by aliens, then I think you’re on the right track.


baby loves coding!

Baby Loves Coding!

Baby Loves Coding is a wonderful board book that teaches children how to use logic to solve simple problems. It’s written in a way that you would never realize that the pages are focused on sequences and patterns. These are the building blocks to learning how to program. Targeted to toddlers, Baby Loves Coding is the perfect introduction for your little one to begin a path in STEM related fields. Fun, informative, and colorful, you’ll definitely want to add this to the reading list.


Python Bytes

Python Bytes: An ABC Introduction to Programming for Toddlers 

This book is for those of you who are programmers or at least know how to code. Python Bytes is a great way to introduce concepts from Python using the alphabet. The book won’t teach your child how to code, but it will familiarize her with the context. I consider it a great supplement to the other books/apps listed here. L is a character in the book that goes on a programming adventure. However, I must warn you that you need to have the basic foundation of programming.


My first Coding Book

My First Coding Book

If you’re the kind of parent that wants your child to learn logic before touching a keyboard, then My First Coding Book is for you.  This book walks your child through fun activities that teach sequences, algorithms, critical thinking, and debugging. That’s a whole basic skillset without sitting in front of a computer. A perfect introduction to coding for 3 to 5 year-olds. It’s definitely important to drive home the founding principles of how programs solve problems.


Kodable programming lessons for kids

Kodable

Designed to teach kids how to code before they can even read, this app is designated for ages five and up but has been enjoyed by kids as young as three. As soon as your kid masters dragging and dropping on your iPad, they’re ready to start their first coding lesson with this cute, awesome app. It even has slots for five different profiles so different users can learn at their own pace.


Code monster

Code Monster

Code Monster is a game where kids follow fun, simple step-by-step directions to learn the fundamentals of coding. This one would work best with a parent helping kids through the steps, but remember that if you’re the one touching the keyboard, they’re not learning as well as they could be, so hands off!


Daisy The Dinosaur

Daisy The Dinosaur

If your toddler can read, even with a little help, this drag and drop app is a great way to get kids thinking in code. Kids will learn objects, sequencing, loops, and events as they program the dinosaur to dance across the screen.

Of course, there are other ways to get kids programming besides using the downloadable software. Start them out with playing a game like Minecraft and encourage them toward creating mods for it as they grow older. If you’re familiar with programming, be creative with how you expose your kids to it and push them to experiment.

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