Thursday, 29 October 2015

Gifts for Kids who Code in Scratch

Do you know a child who is learning to program in Scratch. We do! We've put together a list of gifts that young coders will love. Some are in the pocket money or stocking stuffer price range while others are in the more expensive main birthday or Christmas range.

These gift ideas will give kids the opportunity to take build real-world projects using Scratch, learn about robotics and gain deeper computer science knowledge. And of course have lots of fun!

Scratch is suitable for kids from around 6 years of age with support with age 8-14 being the core age range. There are plenty of older Scratch coders too. Scratch is proper programming and there's lots to learn, especially if you add some fun accessories.


MaKey MaKey


MaKey MaKey turns physical objects that conduct electricity into inputs for your Scratch projects. You can control a game with playdough buttons or build a banana piano.

We backed the MaKey MaKey Kickstarter and it works brilliantly with Scratch. We recently built a game for learning phonics with tin foil letters, we've got Cub Scouts to build a banana piano and we've run a kids hack day with Scratch and MaKey MaKey.


Learn to Program with Scratch


Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math by Majed Marji takes kids from the Scratch basics through to more advanced concepts.

Kids who already have some Scratch experience will still learn plenty from this book which has lots of fun projects to follow along with.

We also recommend Super Scratch Programming Adventure as an introduction to programming with Scratch.


Mini Wireless Keyboard


These mini wireless keyboard make brilliant remote controls for Scratch projects. They are USB-rechargeable and you just plug in a mini dongle to a PC or laptop to connect.

When my older son was learning his times tables we made a physical bingo card card with Scratch bingo caller. We used the wireless keyboard down on the floor where we were playing the game to trigger the calling from a nearby PC.


mBot




mBot is one of our favourite programmable robots and its MakeBlock software is based on Scratch 2.0.


Getting a mBot for your young coder will enable them to take their Scratch knowledge and learn robotics. Read our full review of the mBot to find out more.



Bluetooth Speaker

A mini bluetooth speaker makes a fantastic Scratch accessory. You might need to install additional drivers to get them to work with a PC so make sure you set it up in advance (we needed to install the Broadcom bluetooth package.)

My younger son is currently working on a robot dog and he has recorded Ruby's bark. The speaker also has a microphone so we've written a program in Scratch that plays the bark sound when the noise level goes over a threshold. Now we've got a portable bark box which responds to sound.

We use an ultra-mini speaker with the mBot robot and Scratch. We've also got a Bluetooth shower speaker which we have used for projects where the speaker needs to be outdoors.


littleBits Arduino Coding Kit


Arduino


We're big fans of littleBits here at Tech Age Kids. They are small electronics components that snap together easily.

littleBits can be used without any coding to make lots of cool things.

But if you get the Arduino module then you can also connect littleBits to Scratch so that kids can program their inventions. 

Have Fun with Scratch


Hopefully that has given you some ideas on gifts that will be fun for kids who are learning to code in Scratch or to introduce some new options to those who are already experts.




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