Coding is defined as creating instructions for a computer to follow.
But when people hear or see “coding,” they often think of something like their laptop or office desktop, (not necessarily LEGOs).
And while they wouldn’t be incorrect with such thinking, a “computer” extends beyond, reaching far into anything that can be instructed to carry out code (hence the previous definition).
Where are we going with this?
Coding, and computational thinking for that matter, doesn’t have to be limited to a computer screen! In fact, learning to code can be greatly enhanced by adding hands-on manipulatives like LEGOS into the mix.
How can kids learn with LEGO?
Of course, technically, coding can’t be done without a computer. Building with LEGOs is great for budding engineering and other skills, but an electronic element is usually necessary for actual coding.
Don’t get us wrong, kids can acquire many in-demand STEM skills just by experimenting and building with LEGOs! From problem-solving to iteration, these little bricks are a classic for good reason.
When the power of LEGOs and computers combine, though, there are plenty of hands-on activities that can help kids learn coding concepts and practice thinking like programmers. From powering robots to building amazing constructions that operate with code, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
All of this leads us to an incredible list of coding toys and LEGO robot games that make programming fun to learn!
5 LEGO Coding Activities & Games
With each of the following, you might be tempted to write them off as only "fun," and fun they are—but they do offer so much more, including the many benefits of robotics for kids. And in this case, that "more" is valuable, hands-on coding instruction that motivates young learners.
1. Program LEGO MINDSTORMS
If your kids thought building their own LEGOs was fun, imagine the entertainment in watching them navigate obstacle courses and more! And if they thought controlling LEGOs was cool, then programming them and their robotic movements just simply can’t be beat!
With the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, kids can learn to teach a robot how to think thanks to sensors that can see light, react to sounds and movement, follow a set line on the floor, and even back up and turn around if the robot bumps into a wall.
Speaking from personal experience, this tool is ideal for kids who love to build and are excited to see what their creations can do.
2. Explore Hour of Code with LEGO
By connecting with Hour of Code, kids will be programming their LEGOs before you know it! The website offers dozens of activities, games, and building challenges for kids. It’s an excellent resource for teachers and parents alike.
Plus, Hour of Code offers activities that combine coding, robotics, and other educational topics that are bound to spark kids’ curiosity. Learn about self-driving cars, how bees pollinate, the architecture of skyscrapers, and more with the awesome LEGO coding activities (as a bonus, the lesson plans are free!)
3. Code with LEGO SPIKE
With mechanical creation and drag-and-drop visual coding capabilities, LEGO Education SPIKE Prime Set is complete with building systems which allow kids to get hands-on in the worlds of robotics and coding...all of course with the familiar piece-by-piece connectivity kids have grown to love.
The SPIKE set is ideal for building enthusiasts who learn well by taking things apart and putting them back together again—or by configuring them into something completely new! With countless configurations come hours of potential learning and entertainment. Check out the companion lessons that will have kids building, coding, and learning in no time.
4. Learn About Algorithms & Binary
Concepts like algorithms and binary are crucial for coders to understand, but they can be tricky to explain to young learners. (For assistance with this, check out our guide to algorithms for kids!)
In fact, coding for kids in general can be a little abstract without the right visuals to define key ideas: that’s where LEGOs come in handy!
Try simple activities like this one that teaches youngsters all about algorithms with LEGO; kids will learn how code works in a simple, low-tech way with a tool they already know well. In this LEGO binary activity, little ones can practice their spelling skills while learning all about the 1s and 0s that power the modern world!
5. Code with LEGO BOOST & Creative Toolbox
Who says you have to cart around hundreds of LEGO pieces to keep learning? The LEGO BOOST app makes it easy for youngsters to keep up their coding routine from just about anywhere.
When paired with the Creative Toolbox, kids can use simple block coding and drag-and-drop tools to bring their masterpieces to life. It’s one thing to watch code run on a computer, and it’s quite another to see it animate a robot that can talk and move! This handy app makes that possible for kids.
Next steps: building a coding foundation with LEGO
If anything, the above examples are great reminders that coding isn’t always what kids think it to be. While there is still plenty of “on-computer” activity, and different coding languages to learn, the first step can be a little softer.
Either way, when teaching kids to code, the goal is to keep them engaged, and one very good way of doing that is connecting coding to existing interests, and reminding young minds that the world runs on code… whether that’s video games, apps, social media, or even competitive robotics.
Coding doesn’t exist in isolation—far from it! Whether it’s using Lua to create Roblox games, creating a Sprite in Scratch, or building their own customized website with HTML, there are countless creative avenues for kids to combine coding skills with their other interests.