We’ve been looking for lots of creative ways to keep the kids busy this summer, and some of our favourite activities have come from Little Robot Friends. We first were introduced to Little Robot Friends through a coding camp they were offering, and while the focus was tech, we loved how they combine STEAM activities with ‘soft skills’ like empathy, confidence and growth mindset (you know we’re all about growth mindset). Since we know our kids will be entering a tech-based world, we want to give them opportunities to explore, experiment with tech, and learn skills through problem solving, and incorporating STEAM learning is one of the most exciting ways to do that.
My eldest kiddo is really into tech and coding, and we wanted screen-free ways to incorporate STEAM learning. The activities were great because they allowed us to get everyone involved, even the toddler!
Our favourite outside summer STEAM activity is the sidewalk chalk version of the classic electronic memory game, Simon. It’s called Sidewalk Simon, and it’s a fun way to teach kids about one basic of computer programming, the If/Then statement. Programmers write commands that prompt computers to complete an action depending on the variables that are present. The program says IF one condition exists, THEN it commands it to do something. It can be as simple as a Yes or No question and answer or it can prompt an action.
How to play Sidewalk Simon:
- Pick four sidewalk chalk colours (e.g., Red, blue, green, yellow).
- Draw up a Simon board using the four colours.
- Explain to your kid that you are the Programmer and they are the Computer. They need to follow the ‘conditions’ you are programming: If I Say This, Then You Do This.
- Explain the ‘conditions’. If you say Red, then your kid jumps on the Red section. For an extra challenge, also assign a sound to each of the colours (e.g., one clap for Red, whistle for Blue etc).
- Your kid starts the game by standing in the centre of the board.
- Shout out a colour or sound and have them jump on the correct colour and then back to centre. (e.g., If you say Red, then your kid jumps to red and back to centre).
- Add on a colour or sound to the first instruction (e.g., Red, Whistle. Your kid jumps to Red, then Blue, and then back to centre).
- Continue adding on a colour or sound until you have 8-10 steps in a sequence OR until your kid misses one.
- Switch roles. Let your kid be the Programmer and you be the Computer.
My kids especially loved when they were the programmer and Mom was the computer - I think they may have added some “creative” commands just to make me look silly on the sidewalk. After playing a few rounds, your kids will have a better understanding of the If/Then statement, a basic computer programming concept, and they’ve gotten some physical activity - WIN WIN!
After you’ve given this activity a try, don’t forget to hop over to Little Robot Friends for screen free STEAM activities to do with your kids - including an amazing Paperbot that your kids can design, assemble, and light up. I even have a special 15% off discount for you using the promo code SPARKJOURNALS.
Little Robot Friends’ mission is to empower kids to think creatively with technology, and that’s why we love them. Little Robot Friends was founded by Ann & Mark, a wife & husband duo in Toronto, and along with their team of designers, engineers and educators, they are passionate about changing the way our kids learn. They offer coding workshops, virtual camps, and robot products that you can build, code & play with at home. Connect with them at littlerobotfriends.com!