I recently purchased two board and card games, Bits and Bytes and Robot Turtles, to teach programming to children. I have now tested them in the classroom and at home with my 10 and 13-year-old kids. The family test group was a bit overaged and overqualified; The teenager, an avid coder and a former Lego man, found these games far too easy. The 10-year-old beginner of programming seemed to enjoy playing and quickly understood the instructions of the games.
Out of all the groups I’ve played these games with, the primary school-aged kids from Grades 1 to 3 have most appreciated them. They’ve grasped the rules of the game quickly and learned some basic concepts of coding such as algorithm, program and sequence along the play.
Robot Turtles is suitable for young players starting from age four. The aim is to guide your turtle home avoiding obstacles on the way. The basic gameplay is simple and it’s easy to add levels, introduce obstacles and functions, into the game. This game is very logical and instructions are clear. The format is pleasant with a nicely illustrated board and colorful play cards.
In Bits&Bytes your goal is to get your player, Bit, Byte, Data or Perl, to the safe haven without being caught by the bugs or the CPU. Your player might also be hindered by the walls and therefore obliged to find an alternative route home. You have two options for the gameplay; in the basic game, you guide your player through the grid by issuing commands with the instruction cards. Advanced rules introduce functions and teach children conditional statements and loops. I had difficulties to understand what to do in Bits&Bytes first but eventually got it after being reminded of overthinking. This game does not have a board, but the cards should be distributed on the table or floor in a grid format.
Both games are definitely a great addition to a coding class in the pre and primary school when practicing sequences and basic algorithms.