We love our Kindles! When we first opened Coder Kids Club, we reviewed all kinds of tablets, and the Kindles won because they were able to run all of the apps we needed and were very inexpensive. After using 15 Kindles pretty much daily for 18 months, we can also add that they are very durable! We did add some nice cases to our Kindles, and recommend all parents do the same.
Your kids will spend countless hours playing with littleBits, if you’ll let them! They are easy to use, and part to put down after you start playing with them. Think of them as electronic building blocks, which you can put together to create a virtually unlimited number of inventions.
Each kit comes with several pieces, which can be used to create all kinds of inventions. My personal favorite kit is the Rule Your Room Kit, because it’s relatively inexpensive, but includes some very useful bits. It’s a good “entry level” kit for kids who want to try them. Gizmos and Gadgets is another excellent kit, with a lot more pieces, so you can make even more inventions.
In addition to the kits, there’s an app you can use to get help, find instructions for building inventions, and much more. If you’d like to check out littleBits, stop by one of our Open Play sessions!
We use Dash, and his buddy Dot, in several classes, and the kids absolutely love it. They can use 4 different apps to control it in a variety of ways. One app allows the kids to draw a path that Dash will follow. Another app lets the kids simply “drive” Dash around, and make silly noises. The last two apps allow the kids to program Dash, and Dot, to do some very complex actions. We even use one of those apps to control the robots for a competition. Whenever we have camps, this is one of the toys the kids all want to use, so it’s a good thing we have a bunch of them!
Want to make your own platformer games? This kit can help! Use the game board and blocks to design characters and maps, and then transform those physical creations to real games via the Bloxel app. It’s very cool, and it works on our Kindles, so we love it.
We use Ozobots in some of our programming classes. They’re very easy to use, and can be controlled a variety of ways. Younger kids can use simple, colored lines to program them, and older kids can do that, or use a version of Blockly to write complex programs.
This is the animation software and camera that we use in our Introduction to Animation class. It’s perfect for creating stop-motion animations. The software is intuitive, and the kids have no trouble using it. The camera has a bendable arm, so it’s easy to position for shots from a variety of angles.
A lot of parents ask us which computers they should get for their kids. The answer is usually, “It depends!” If your child will be playing Minecraft and web-based games, making simple YouTube videos, and (safely) surfing the web, a computer similar to what we have in our computer lab is probably just fine. We have 11 of the 15.6″ Toshiba Satellite Radius laptops in the lab. The kids like that they are touchscreen, and the keyboard can be flipped back to use it like a tablet. We like them because they run reasonably well, have been relatively low maintenance, and have only given us minimal trouble in the past 18+ months. Plus the price is pretty good for the specs.
This 7″ Kindle Fire is the latest addition to the Kindle family. It’s not HD, but that might not matter. I bought my daughter one of these for her birthday, and she uses it primarily to play Minecraft PE and Minecraft: Story Mode. She’s also watched some videos on it, and frankly, couldn’t tell that it wasn’t HD (really, I think only older kids and adults would care!). The tablet is quick, light, and best of all, inexpensive. If you get the version with special offers, even if you add a 32GB SD card to up the storage, a cover to protect it, and a 2-year accident protection plan, you’re still spending less than $100! That’s less than what I spent on the Kindle Fire HDs for my computer lab, and you can almost guarantee that these will be what I buy next time.
We use this set in some of our classes, and the kids love it. The set comes with components to make 175 projects, all of which are detailed in the included project guide. One of the Coder Kids favorite projects is the sound visualizer! They can use the lights to visualize music coming from an attached device.
We have used this set in a few of our classes, and the kids really enjoy it. The set comes with over 60 components. It’s for kids 8 and older, but we’ve had some success using it with kids just a little below that age range. The components are easy to identify, and put together on the included board. This set comes with a manual, that kids can use to build more than 300 different projects. There is also a smaller set (SC-100), which you can combine with an upgrade set, to get the same components as this set. Depending on what kind of sales are going on, that path might actually be less expensive than buying this set (it was when I wrote this!), so definitely check it out.
This thing is so cool! It reminds me of an old school Nintendo controller, with the up/down/left/right controls and two buttons.
You can use the Makey Makey to build all kinds of neat controls for stuff. I used one to turn a Minecraft sword into an actual, working sword for Minecraft. You can whack the sword on a piece of foil, and it will actually make the sword in the game hit stuff. How cool is that? We also have fun using fruit, and other conductive goodies, to turn the Makey Makey into a musical instrument.