If you feel like you’re being bombarded by endless avalanche of toys that promise to teach your kid to code … yeah, sorry about that, but it’s only going to continue. For one, marketers want to sell your kids toys. Secondly, these skills are really important to the future — for both the economy and your kid’s job prospects. So how do you help teach them coding basics in a hands-on way that’s actually relatable to you? Board games. Yes, those rainy day boredom busters you feared were going extinct are actually highly useful learning tools. At least these 6 are. Hungry, Hungry Hippos still only teaches kids horrid, horrid table manners.
Robot TurtlesBoard games are killing it on Kickstarter right now, and this game out-raised all of them. That tells you everything you need to know about how much people value teaching kids programming. Or how much they like turtles. Either way, the game teaches children as young as 4 the fundamentals of coding using cards, the third-most analog toy ever — just behind the stick and the ball.
Robot Turtles ($19)
Code Monkey IslandCode Monkey Island also uses cards to teach kids the programming skills like strategic problem solving, adaptability, looping, assignment operations, and Boolean operators. The cards dictate how each player’s team of monkeys moves towards their goal of reaching the banana patch, but your kids don’t even realize they’re learning because LOOKIT THE MONKEYS!
Code Monkey Island ($35)
Code Master Board GamesIn Code Master, kids use programming logic to navigate their Avatar through the game world. In each of the 60 levels, they must collect crystals and land at the portal. There’s only one specific sequence that leads to the end of each level, so this game activates the portion of your child’s brain opposite the one that compels them to answer everything you say with, “Why?”
Code Master Board Games ($27)
QwirkleBefore you assume that this game of creating rows and columns of matching colors and shapes is just poorly spelled, rebranded dominoes, consider the brain development benefits like pattern recognition and strategy. While it doesn’t overtly teach coding, it did win the Mensa Select award, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to make your kid a genius.
BloxelsBloxels looks kind of like Battleship, except blocks on a grid represent coins, keys, walls, hazards, enemies, entry points, and actions, not subs and destroyers. And instead of talking to each other, players transform their block grids into playable video game levels by photographing them with a smartphone or tablet. So … nothing like Battleship, but building video games is way cooler than listening to you yawn, “Hit” and “Miss” for 20 minutes.
Prime ClimbThis award-winning game teaches math by requiring players to multiply and divide their way around a colorful, spiraling game board from 1 to 101. They’ll get so good at math, your kids will finally understand how insanely expensive their college education will be — and why you’re so adamant about maximizing their STEM skills.
Prime Climb ($35)