Thu Feb 09 2023
Gift Ideas for Kids Who Love Coding
In this article, you will find gift ideas for kids in their tweens or older. That is except for the Code-A-Pillar toy, which is aimed at younger kids, but is pretty impressive even for adults to play with. Nevertheless, this article covers a wide range of possible gift ideas, from influential coding gifts to fancy aesthetic stuff that any coder would enjoy.
A Second-Hand "Disposable" Computer
Your child may or may not have a computer already. If your child wants to engage in real coding, then look for a second-hand computer that is about 3 to 5 years old. This is where you get some amazing bargains while still getting a reasonably good computer.
The reason you think of it as "Disposable" is because it is only used for coding. That way, when your kid accidentally deletes a key directory, you can reformat the computer, reinstall the operating system, and no harm has been done.
It is not just the threat of your child re-coding your family computer. If your child runs a fairly complex program, it may need to render for several hours, and nobody wants their family computer tied up all day. Plus, your kids are going to get fooled by people on the Internet who claim that this software or that software will help their coding. They will also go online looking for answers to programming problems and some nefarious people will talk your kids through turning off their firewall to let malware through. It is not your kid’s fault, but you can protect yourself and them by using the second-hand computer for coding only.
A Light Up Mechanical Keyboard
Be you a coder, a writer or a gamer, it is always awesome having a light up keyboard, especially in a dark room. Plus, having the keys lit up so you can see them makes it easier for younger programmers who are still learning how to touch type. They are going to keep looking at their keyboard anyway, you may as well make it easier for them.
Mechanical keyboards are more expensive, but they cause less strain on the fingers. Plus, they sound great. When kids press down on the keys, they can feel and hear when the button has been pressed. This may help stop a frustrated child from pressing on the keys too hard and causing damage. The feedback from the keyboard is enough to stop them overcompensating when they press.
A Gamer's Mouse and a Good Mouse Mat
Modern gamer's mouses are amazing for both how they feel and how responsive they are. Do not allow your child to suffer through having a cheap mouse. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but the differences over the long term are pretty big. Gaming mouses are the reason why repetitive strain injuries are so rare these days. Also, do not opt for a cheap or thick mouse mat. A thick mat raises a child’s wrist ever so slightly, causing a slight overreach that will bother them if they spend a lot of time on their mat. Also, a good mat has the right amount of traction to offer physical feedback without hindering the mouse movement. Again, try to remember that your child will spend a lot of time on their computer, and that is when these sorts of things start to matter.
A Series of Lessons and Games For Young Coders
Let's assume your child is getting a little older. Possibly in their early teens and is still interested in coding. It may be time to help your kid pick a language, preferably a language that will suit their end-goals, and then buying them a course that teaches them how to code. Make sure the course also contains games because they are an integral part of learning because they allow a child to dabble in a subject. In comparative terms, games allow children to dabble with coding ideas the same way a trip to France may help a French-language learner dabble in the French language.
If your child is a touch younger than early teens, you think a coding gift for kid course that is age appropriate. In many cases, the age-defined courses simply introduce the content in a more digestible way.
The trick is to not let the kid get lost in the content. The second a kid goes from “following” to “not following,” their interest in the subject turns off. It is like a light switch, once the kid stops following, it is like they turn their brains off.
NotePad++ or Something Similar
Perhaps your child already has a coding editor, or perhaps you know of something similar. However, if your child is graduating from being interested in coding to real-life coding, then introduce them to the free tool NotePad++, or a similar editor. These sorts of tools are very advanced while seeming very simple on the surface.
Code-A-Pillar by Fisher-Price
As mentioned in the introduction. It is a toy where you add sections to the robot caterpillar's back. Each section has a coding instruction such as go forwards, or go in a circle, and so forth. You attach the sections and activate the caterpillar and it follows your instructions in the order you placed the sections on its back. Like all good things, its brilliance is matched only by its simplicity.
Online Private Sessions or Teach Your Kids Yourself
There are some great online tutors out there. There are some that run classes online, and some that teach one-to-one. The problem is that they are expensive. If the expense is a little too much, then consider taking a course (as mentioned earlier) but take it with your child and you can both learn at the same time.
Also, as mentioned earlier with the online courses and games, kids will lose interest very quickly if they stop following something. This can be potentially worse with an online tutor. It is their job to make sure the child is following everything that is going on. Many children will not let on when they don't follow something, especially when it is repeatedly told to them and they still don't get it. Out of embarrassment, they will bluff their way through and very quickly lose interest. Keep this in mind if you choose to hire an online tutor.
Don’t Buy a Tablet
It may seem odd that an article on gift ideas would tell you what “Not” to buy, but there is a lot of misinformation about tablets and coders. It may be true that some professionals use tablets, perhaps when testing products, or perhaps when creating visual assets for things like games. However, a tablet in and of itself is pretty useless to an up-and-coming programmer. If you have been told they are good for coding apps, then buy the apps for your kid’s Smartphone instead. Even something like a Nintendo Switch and Mario Maker 2 would be a better investment for a coder than a tablet. The same goes for those tablet games where kids are given a cheaply made tablet with a coding game or five coding games embedded. Again, these are useless to a child programmer unless it is being used to drive a drone or something similar.
Other Thoughts and Suggestions
This article didn't go through a list of toys and such because they have such a short shelf life. Even now, if you Google the top ten coding toys, at least three of the ten toy links would be dead. This is because manufacturers bring them out, they flop, so they quickly abandon them. Keep this in mind when you are shopping for coding toys because quite often they are no longer supported by their manufacturers. Nevertheless, here are a few quick ideas if you didn't fancy anything listed above.
Roblox Studio and a Learning Course
The studio is free, all you need is a learning course. It teaches your kid how to make real Roblox games. It may one-day inspire your kid to become a real game developer.
Oxygen Not Included and Some Tutorials
A pretty complicated game for teens, but it runs everything according to physics. They even calculate how heavy the air is in their pipes. There is also a pretty good logic-automation side to this game but find your kid some tutorials before you throw them in the deep end.
A 3D Printer
If you have money to burn and you want your kid to see some real-world examples of what coding can do, then try a 3D printer. Help your kid learn how to create design and program them into the printer.
A Programmable Robot Kit
This is yet another programming toy, but it gets a mention because there are hundreds of them. Your job is to search through the hundreds to find the small minority of them that are worth the money and your time.
Get The Kids Some "Merch"
If your kids are interested in coding, then they are probably fans of the community. Get your kid a mug with “Hello World” on it. Have “Run Dos Run” written on their pencil case. Buy them the sort of stuff you would buy them if they were fans of a TV show.