It is no secret that the language of the future is not one that will be spoken by any tongue. Instead, it is the language of computers that will be necessary when my children are adults. A language that was so unfamiliar when I was a child is now something that will be required for day to day life in just a few short years. That’s why introducing coding and robotics at the preschool level is such an important subject for me. Since I believe that all children should learn through hands-on activities and multi-sensory play, I’ve teamed up with Sphero to go beyond the code and share a simple preschool STEAM activity that results in stunning colorful process art (all done by a robot).
* This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. Click here for my full disclosure.
At first, the thought of teaching robotics and coding to my four year old made me nervous. My twelve year old is the robot fan and my natural born engineer but he was out of town with his dad and Super B (4) saw the new Sphero show up at our door. We’ve been playing some simple non-screen time coding games lately, so it felt like she would really enjoy some time with the Sphero. If I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have been the least bit worried.
Sphero comes with three different ways to code and learn, making it simple to use for all ages… even four year olds. This art activity is the perfect mix of robotics and art. In fact, its the perfect first coding activity for preschooler and Super B was full of joy the entire time.
How to Introduce with Coding for Preschoolers
While the Sphero is absolutely amazing and easy to use with preschoolers, I wouldn’t recommend just jumping in without scaffolding (gradually releasing) the activities. Here are the simple steps we took to get ready for our robotic painting.
Before we opened up the app, we played a few simple games of simon says. I wanted her to understand how computers are following our commands and language.
Next, we opened up the Sphero app and watched a few videos. Immediately, Super B knew what she wanted to try out and so did I. With a variety of pre-made activities to choose from, it is easy to learn how to code right from the beginning.
We chose to use the drawing method to start. The idea is that you create a drawing and your Sphero will follow your instructions. However, there is a tad more for a preschooler to understand.
For example, drawing a huge circle on the ipad made the Sphero roll behind the couch and get stuck. We had to practice scaling.
Next, we learned that robots follow every command, even if we are not clear. This means if your lines don’t match, Sphero has to roll to where you want the next line to start. Super B took awhile to figure out WHY he kept making different shapes than what she drew.
Finally, we were practiced until we could create a shape that was small enough to stay on a large paper.
Simple Tips to Introduce Coding to Preschoolers
1. Make it fun!!
Seriously, kids learn through play and the language of computers can sound so daunting and confusing, but using play will allow children to make connections they never knew possible.
2. Use the senses!!
By involving more than just the visual sense with lines of code, your child will make connection in their brain and increase their ability to focus and remember what you teach them. Play simple simon says games, make binary playdough necklaces, or act out a simple line of code. This process art activity if perfect for engaging all the senses.
3. Stick to the concrete!!
No, I don’t mean the outside pavement. Instead, stick to concrete examples that children ages 3-4 can understand. Talking in numbers and letters that they can not see, feel or touch will not help them create lasting understanding of how coding works.
How to Use Robotics for Process Art with Preschoolers
Ever since Super B was little, she hasn’t liked paint on her hands. She avoids it at all costs, in fact. So this activity was perfect, because the robot was the one getting messy, not her.
After we created a very small circle program, we were ready to paint! We started with just one color of washable paint on a huge piece of foam board. We lined up the robot and then hit start.
One color was obviously not enough. We had to try all the colors! Super B kept the same program for the entire painting and just kept running it over and over again.
Super B was having so much fun! She loved seeing that Sphero kept making her circles every time she ran the program. The more colors she added, the better the painting looked.
I think Sphero was having fun too.
This made Super B want to paint along side her. She asked me to run the program while she painting beside the robot.
In fact, she even decided that she wanted to get her hands messy! Who knew?
Seriously, what preschooler wouldn’t want to learn to code while creating some amazing art?
How Sphero Edu is Changing the Way Children Learn
As you have seen from just this one activity, Sphero is a revolutionary way to include technology in every child’s education. Through simple activities and fun games, children will be inspired to be engineers starting at a very young age.
By the end of our activity, Super B was begging to code and program some more. Next, she wants to see if she can program the Sphero to have a dance party with her.
I know once she discovers the maze tape in the box, her imagination will go even more wild! The possibilities are endless!
Not to mention how much interest in the Sphero, coding, STEAM, and robotics my four year old now has. It’s like she has a new best friend.
Sphero SPRK+® and Sphero Edu have limitless possibilities for encouraging creativity, imagination and ingenuity. You can create a map, run through a maze, conquer an obstacle course, create a dance party, make fabulous art, and so much more!
To learn more about Sphero and the Sphero edu app, be sure to check out Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Youtube. Be sure to use the hashtag #beyondcode anytime you share on social media about your awesome inventions and discoveries!
Here’s the coolest part…
I am in love with Sphero and what it will do for our educational experiences, but that’s not enough. I am excited to share that YOU have a chance to win a Sphero for you and your kids! It’s easy! All you have to do is head over to the Sphero site with your kids and then come back here and comment which activity your kids want to try first!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sphero. The opinions and text are all mine.