Kids learning to code on tablets and computers is becoming more commonplace in forward-thinking schools all over the world. Studies have shown that learning to code benefits kids by not only allowing them to understand how technology works, but also enabling children to become better problem-solvers and have better analytical skills. It also gives them valuable skills to get ahead in a world ever more reliant on technology.
In 2012, even Estonia began programs to teach kids in school, as early as first grade, how to code. In the U.S., only 25 states require students to have Computer Science credits to count towards graduation, and teachers and parents are clamoring to get funding for schools to get the facilities so teachers can start more programming classes.
Dozens of companies are creating products for kids to learn coding while they play. Kano, for example, was a crowd-funded computer that allowed kids could build themselves and create their own pong- and "Minecraft"-inspired games. Now, toy company Fisher-Price has revealed its newest product at CES 2016: the Code-A-Pillar. Apple, as well, has hosted "Hour of Coding" events to promote the idea of teaching kids the basics of coding.
The Code-A-Pillar is a toy for toddlers that will help them learn the very bare-bones basics of coding concepts without having to lay a finger on a tablet or type a character on a keyboard. The caterpillar toy will move in certain directions depending on how the symbols on its body are matched up by the toddler.
According to Amber Pietrobono, a spokesperson for the company, the toy will be available on shelves in July and is currently priced at $50. Fisher-Price also plans to release expansion packs for the toy to make it do more tricks which will retail for around $15 each.
Parents may also play around with the toy on its companion app which will be available for iOS and Android devices to help their preschoolers learn how to distinguish colors and how to count.
While most online programs, such as Scratch or Hour of Code, are directed towards making learning to code fun for school-age kids, the Code-A-Pillar is the first toy to help introduce these concepts to children who are not even potty trained yet.
The Code-A-Pillar will be part of Fisher-Price's Teach & Learn line of toys. More details are expected to be released during the annual New York Toy fair next month.