Can you teach shapes and geometry with computer coding games? Today I am excited to share a new coding toy that I used to just do that. Teaching kids Coding has become a popular topic nowadays. We all know today’s kids will grow up into a new world that computers and robots are essential parts of life. Even if they don’t want to be a programmer to write computer codes, it is important to understand how programs and coding work, so the world is less mysterious and they will feel more empowered in their life. Since coding is in so many different aspects of life and used in so many different fields of work, it is a wonderful idea to embed coding in all subjects in kids learning today. That’s why I love Sphero Edu program. With the new design, the newly updated coding toy can be used in so many different subjects, and shapes and geometry is just one of them.
With the SPRK+ Robot, kids can code in 3 ways: Draw, Blocks, Text. I am showing here one example of each.
Game Set Up:
Use the floor measuring tape (provided in the Sphero package) to mark on the floor the shape kids are learning. We created a triangle and a square. Make sure you have all the measures, like the length of the edges and the angles. It is nice Sphero also provides a protractor to measure angles.
To write / draw a code for the SPRK+ Robot ball to follow the shape marked by the tape as closely as possible. We put LEGO pieces at certain spots on the shapes for kids to hit with the SPRK+ Robot ball.
Coding Game 1: Command by Drawing
For young children, who have none previous coding experience, drawing is a great way for them to learn shapes and to experience the wonder of robots taking instruction from coding commands. One of the features come with the free Sphero app is coding by drawing. Kids can easily draw the shape as the route they want the Sphero ball to move and watch the path the robot travels on the ground, and later on the iPad screen through the Sphero app‘s recording feature.
Drawing itself is easy, but drawing as coding that the robot can actually follow is not necessarily as easy as it looks. Our first try was a total failure, as the ball traveled twice the distance as the size we wanted it to.
Things to consider when drawing the path besides the geometric shapes:
The smoothness of the surface: the ball will function differently on hard wood floor vs. carpet.
How leveled the floor surface is: we learned quickly that the robot definitely is much more sensitive than our human’s senses, and we need adjust the lines that going up-slope a little longer than lines going down slope. Since the robot can sense a very tiny difference that we can’t, we ended up adjusting by trial and error.
Robot orientation alignment: each time before running the code, you should align the robot with your code. The instruction is in the free app. We also talked about reference system and perspectives in our coding game series too.
After several adjustments, we were able to have the robot travel along the line pretty well.
Coding Game 2: Command with Block Codes
With the coding blocks, kids can define the traveling length by code parameters, such as the time the robot moves, and the speed it moves.
Kids also need have better understanding of each shape to write the parameters. For a square, they need specify the angles to be 90-degree different from the last edge the robot rolls over. For equal lateral triangle, the angles need be 60 degrees. This is a good practice of perspective thinking skill
Things to Consider when commanding by Block Code:
In addition to all the factors mentioned under Drawing Code, kids need consider the relationship between time, speed, and distance.
Additionally, the angles in the code may not necessarily the angle of the shape, depending the reference direction. For example, if the first line of the square is going at 90 degree in the code, the 2nd line should go with 180 degree or 0 degree depending the alignment between robot and app device.
Coding Game 3: Text Coding
To start, kids can play around simply by changing parameters in the auto-translated codes. Via changing small parts of already working codes, they can see how line codes structure and function. When they are ready, they can write the code directly in the line code section without using drawing or block codes.
For more coding activities, please visit DIY Coding Camp at Home. You will find a series of 5 printable coding games teaching kids 5 crucial coding skills. Just print the game on paper, no computer needed.
For more coding toys, check out 15 Best Coding Toys for Kids
You may also like 11 Off-Screen Activities for Kids to Learn Computer Coding
For more STEM Activities, visit 28 days of STEAM Challenge.
The benefits of coding for kids are not just limited to a great career. It can help them to develop many skill useful not just in school but also in life. In your article you have shared an interesting way to make shapes and geometry easy for kids through coding games. Must say, it’s useful and was a good read. Thanks for sharing!
Teaching shapes sounds great!
My daughter likes the maze
tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com
The girls said they would love to do the maze first. This is a great product.
My son thinks the water rescue looks like fun!
My daughter would probably want to do a maze first! lshumack at gmail dot com
The maze activity looks awesome!!!
not sure if answer you want but my daughter <3 the lighting race car
the drawing one- how cool is this, thank you
I love that there are things to do for different ages! My son Logan is 10 he’d love the maze and water one but for Lucas and Landyn they would love the shapes and spelling!
Would like to try the maze.
I love the drawing feature
My daughter really wants to use it to learn java script for text coding and writing new games.
Drawing sounds like awesome fun–not just for the littlest, but for the middle size kid, too.
the maze mayhem
We would love to try the maze.
My family would love to try the water rescue first!
My daughter would like to navigate a maze
I think he would enjoy the water rescue and he would love to draw as well. These are really cool toys and thanks for sharing!
My daughter wants to use it to draw, and my son wants to use it in the water. They are both super excited!
My kids would love to try the maze.
My nieces would love to try the Water Rescue first. Thanks for the chance! 🙂
We would try the bridge activity first. This looks like a great way to teach my grands
I think we would all enjoy the Water Rescue
My son wants to try the bridge activity first. Everything looks so fun!
My kids would love to do the maze first. Thanks for the chance
My kids would love to do the maze first. Thanks for the chance
He says the maze!
My kids saw a Sphero about a month ago and have been asking me for one. I think they would enjoy that the most. They have a pretty cool selection of other toys too.
My daughter wants to use it to draw and my son says the maze.
I think my boys would like to do the maze first.
The drawing shapes activity
I think we would like the Water Rescue one. It looks like it would be a lot of fun to try.
The maze would be a great starter game for my 7 year old.
Would use Sphero with drawing shapes and spelling the kids would love it
My son says drawing. They say it would be fun and different.
My kids declared that really really want to try painting and drawing with sphero!!!
I think Water Rescue would be a lot of fun!
Hello! After taking his time and studying each of the pictured activities quite intently, my autistic 7 yr old decided that he would not do one of the pictured activities. Instead, he would combine the water boat race and the articulating spider looking maching to create his own contraption in order to go across the water with the device! Im not exactly sure what design his wonderful little mind has in store, but his creativity and inginuity is amazing!
My grandson would love the drawing activities.
We would love to do the block coding. My husband has wanted to get one for the kids forever!
This looks so fun! We would start out with shapes or spelling.
I didn’t look at the activities, but they have a lot of great resources! I saw the Pixar car on the news where I live! The dvious robot looks cool!
My son and I would go straight to drawing pathways for a bb8 droid, amazing!
The maze look amazing. I will add color too!
We will try the bridge first, since we are doing a bridge challenge now.
I don’t know what to pick first!! In my preschool classroom I would probably do the drawing one to start out and then ask the kiddos what else they think we could do. Then take that list, hang it up and go through each one while documenting the results. At the end we can vote on which was the most successful and why as well as what new things we learned.
Drawing definitely is a good starting place for preschool kids.
This looks amazing! My kids would love to learn with fun tools like this!
Our school would love to be able to have the opportunity for a coding toy , our students would learn so much!!!
There are so much kids can learn from it. I love all the teaching ideas people put out there.
We have Dash and dot but would be fun to combine the two!
I would love to explore using the robot in the water.
Maybe to create a water monitor sampling machine?
Oh I’d love to hear more about the water sampling machine idea.
We would use Sphero with drawing shapes and spelling!
We had great time with shapes. Spelling sounds like a fun idea.
My kids would love to see if they can figure out how to do all the letters of the alphabet, in cursive and print. This is a great way to learn angles and measurement, by playing!
What a great toy! So many teaching/learning possibilities. I would love to get one of these to share with students.
This looks very cool! I am not very familiar with Sphero, but there’s no doubt the kids will love it. Thanks so much for sharing.
Wow! Fabulous giveaway! We will be into the block coding aspect but honestly I think I’ll just enjoy having them play around with all the different aspects of this and see what they learn from it all. See what inspires them.
Kids are so good at these kind of toys.
I love the drag and drop blocks coding!
I would love to do Draw writing with inspirational words. Personally would love to try Hydro-Hypothesis as the students and my kids love water play. This would be a great way to teach children science and fun.
Both sound great.
My preps would love this! Creating a maze around the classroom that it has to follow! Getting excited just thinking about it!
It is exciting. I have so many ideas running in my head and can’t decide which one to try first.
Funny one.this way of learning will attractive my daughter and she will not feel boring
I really wish I could learn to code…..via game!
Looks a lot of fun
We (me and my girl, haha) want to do all the activities. Guess we better start with the loop activity since it look familiar with the an hour code class we did earlier (we did some through our android play store).
Hope we can win this amazing toy since it not available here in Indonesia.
Thank you for the opportunity to win this toy.
Regrads from us all here..
The kids would love to make a replica of our local Science Museum and have Sphero visit the exhibits. Great learning experience.
What a cool idea!
This looks awesome! I have a whole troop of girl scouts who would love to make a maze for this.
Maze is a fun one for a group.
I bet my daughter would love Maze Mayhem and then she’d want to try the Planetary Motion activity. The drawing shapes activity looks awesome, too.
It will be neat to add real paint to have them draw the path on paper.
The Sphero City game looks like so much fun!
I love that one too.
My kids want to navigate Sphero through a maze by drawing.
I think that is most amazing feature they added for the younger kids. It sparks the wildest imagination for them, and inspire kids from a young age to do something cool.
Mine had the chance to paint with one a couple weeks ago at art camp, and they loved it. I think they would love the light painting or the maze!
The painting looks so fun. I have to try it sometime.
It would be super fun to do that bridge activity. LOTS of STEM learning going on there! ♥ Thanks so much for this fun write up and excellent review of this learning toy. I’m looking into it even more for our local homeschool group. It looks like this could be a seriously fun class to run! THANK YOU!
It will be a great teaching tool for a homeschool group. Now that I have started, I am trying to add it to all the learning activities.
Would love to do something with a maze – or building a bridge for the sphero – FUN!
Maze sounds fun.