When we were kids, we spent a lot of time on Apple IIs telling a triangle called a Turtle how to draw pretty, pretty patterns. Logo, the programming language, was invented to program a small robot, but most public schools didn't have those robots, and most kids in the 80s probably didn't connect the dots between programming a triangle and programming (we certainly didn't!). But now, lots of comparatively low-cost solutions are out there, and all are promising to increase kids' (and child-like adults') interest in programming, robotics, and technology.
So, think of this as our Cyber Monday gift guide. There's nothing in it for us (except for telling the world what we want for Chrismukkah), but we love these ideas.
A $10 robot from Harvard will teach your kids to code. Friends of ours invented Hopscotch and Daisy the Dinosaur to help young kids learn the logic and language of programming to make their own animations, games, and apps. There are tons of sites, schools and groups who will teach kids web and software programming.
But there are also some really beautiful ways that people are combining programming and hardware and other arts and crafts to get kids interested in technology for more than the pure love of code.
FLORA is a wearables platform by Adafruit - it's a system of conductive thread and stitchable sensors and there are so many amazing projects to make using the platform - we love thisfish project.
You can wire up projects with paint, too - literally drawing circuits to create, among many other things, adorable robots!
Magnets and imagination have long been the magic combination for maximum holiday squees - Little Bits brings these ideas together with the color coded logic of Garanimals to make hardware development super fun for everyone.
And because LEGOs are basically the best things ever for everyone, we continue to covet the Mindstorms EV3. But we also think Life of George and the Fusion product line are pretty fun for combining bricks and mobile apps.
Okay, that's enough to get you started (or nostalgic, either way). Also, just so you know, we've been really, really good this year.