4 Games Teaching Kids to Think Creative Like a Coder
We are revealing and presenting 4 cool games we’ve created that can be easily used to foster computational thinking in early childhood. It is easy to create them and they require a minute or two to be set-up. Games like Sets and Processes are valuable even for creative thinking and can’t be found anywhere else. Judge for yourself their value.
First, a little bit about computational thinking.
“Thinking computationally is not programming. It is not even thinking like a computer, as computers do not, and cannot, think.
Simply put, programming tells a computer what to do and how to do it. Computational thinking enables you to work out exactly what to tell the computer to do.
Computational thinking allows us to take a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions. We can then present these solutions in a way that a computer, a human, or both, can understand.”
BBC education guides (1)
According to BBC education guides, there are 4 types, techniques, of computational thinking:
- decomposition – breaking down a complex problem into smaller ones,
- pattern recognition – looking for similarities among and within problems
- abstraction – focusing on the important information only, ignoring irrelevant detail
- algorithms – developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to follow to solve the problem
So, we do not offer all named techniques in form of games but some of them which match perfectly into early childhood computational thinking development with original approaches.
Here is how our games match computational techniques for pattern recognition and algorithms:
- cryptograms, processes games, operations with sets – algorithms
- pattern recognition – pattern recognition
Letters in words or numbers in math equations are replaced with images of animated gifs.
Kids have to apply rules, each image represents one or more characters, and figure out the meaning of the sequence of images and write down word hidden with images. It is a modern version of Egyptian hieroglyphs but with custom images as an alphabet. Images are visual and catchy algorithms that simply foster kids to solve mysteries behind. Many kindergarten teachers foster kids to create their own letters and their very own secret coding, we have just implemented it online.
Same as cryptogram letters we have made cryptogram numbers, the second version of cryptogram game. Rules are defined in legends where images represent numbers. The algorithm is applied to the math equation, kids practice subtraction and algorithms in the same game.
This game is created to explain the power of conversion for input and how does output look like after it is converted, after it is processed. Sounds complicated but actually is not, we’ll explain by one simple example. The rule is explained above, letter sequence ABC is at input, pass through lab, measuring jug full of chemicals, and gets out CBC. Process rule is – first letter A is deleted and replaced with last letter C, second and third letter is not converted.
The rule needs to be applied to the algorithm pineapple, aronia, banana – sequence of fruits. When this sequence of fruits is processed with “secret chemical” output will be banana, aronia, banana on the right in an empty cell. Chemical converted pineapple to banana. Processes are represented with images like chemicals, boiling pot, or explosion…something that in our lives significantly changes the structure of whatever is put inside, something that really processes and changes and something we are very familiar with. In this way, it is no brainer exercise to include engaging images kids love and push them into the world of processes.
We’ve prepared several versions of process games, one step, two step and three step processes. Two and three step process games are just a little bit more complicated because output (result) is not that obvious as in one step process game and several rules need to be applied in correct order.
Operations with Sets
We all remember operation with sets from elementary school or higher grades, and they were quite boring… what belongs into which set, what are mutual elements, and etc. Boring, boring, boring because elements used in exercises were characters, letters, numbers…how can this be exciting?
This is the reason why we have enriched sets game with images. With images, operations with sets got totally new meaning and can be applied from kindergarten. Game provides:
- learning about joins, outer join, inner join and etc.,
- small victories with guessing element one by one,
- a kind of abstraction, providing images in new environment and mutual co-relation, and
- algorithm thinking with the rule.
It is a classic game where the pattern is defined and child has to continue pattern. One very simple example with cars is displayed on the picture below. It is AAABBB pattern.