Learning A New Language: Coding and Programming For Kids

Jul 8, 2020

Learning A New Language

In recent years many language studies have been performed which have shown the benefits of learning a new language as a child. Prior to these findings it was thought that teaching foreign languages to young children would cause language confusion, language deficit or language delay in their native language. These same studies found that the most effective means to teach a new language is to place children into an environment in which they are immersed in the foreign language. 

Typically, when people think of languages they instinctively think of spoken languages such as English, French, Spanish, Russian, and so forth. There are other types of languages, however, such as mathematics, that span internationally across borders yet remain universally understood, even when the spoken language differs. Programming and coding for computer systems are the same concept and fall somewhere in between a mathematical language and a verbal language. Programming is a universal language like mathematics, but there are different programs that each have their own style. Some programming languages include, Java, Python, C++, and many others.

While programming languages might seem more confusing to adults that have never dabbled in them, they are much easier for children, with a still-developing understanding of the world and its limitations, to comprehend. 

Benefits For Children that Learn Programming and Coding

A few of the benefits that children can experience while learning to code can include an increased ability for critical thinking, problem solving skills, the courage to try new and difficult tasks, math skills, and more. Perhaps one of the most important aspects that young children can benefit from being taught how to code and program is the chance to overcome gender barriers. It is a known disparity that most coders and people in the programming world are men. One potential solution to combat the gender imbalance in professional coding is to introduce coding to children, both boys and girls, early on in their development before the concept of stereotypes forms. This way, coding isn’t seen as “a boy thing” but rather as a “school thing” just like math and science in general.

Concepts To Introduce Children To Programming

A prominent obstacle to teaching many children new concepts is the lack of interest to hold their attention, or the relevance of the new concept to their life. Perhaps the most effective way that parents, and educators alike, have found to entice children into learning is through the incorporation of games, be it virtual games or real-world games. Relating current educational topics to ideas that are already cemented in a child’s world can make the concept much easier to understand. Most parents have probably heard of the game Minecraft, considered one of the most popular games of 2020. 

What most parents and educators may not know, however, is that Minecraft can be an excellent foundation to introduce children to the concept of coding and programming. In the game there is an item called redstone, which is used to create a circuitry of sorts, via the use of cooperating objects in linear planes. Sound familiar? If a child wonders how coding and programming could possibly be relevant to their world, try to explain to them that they’ve already been implementing these same concepts in Minecraft. 

Similar to Minecraft in the way children are left to their creativity to build a world of their own, try to introduce the same concept of endless possibilities with coding. Children love to explore and experiment with anything new that interests them, so once they have a grasp on the process of coding, let them go and see where they end up. What they discover and create might be surprising. 

Activities To Teach Children Coding Concepts

In the previous section Minecraft was already used to introduce children to the concept of coding, but there are other ways of introducing the concept to children as well. One way in which children can have a fun, hands-on, experience with computer programming is with Dash and Cue. These tools can help kids get a glimpse into the world of endless possibilities with computer programming by enabling kids to create their own little friend and bring them to life through code. By removing code from the abstract realm and placing it into the physical world in front of them, kids will be able to visually see how code works and what value each line brings to the entire function of a computer. Additionally, by using these cute little robots, kids will also be able to see the effects of a messy code as well as coding errors and the effects that errors can have on the computer, or in this case, the robot. 

If, for whatever reason, jumping into coding with robots seems a bit too intimidating for a young child but the concept of introducing coding at a young age is still alluring, then try introducing codeless forms of robotics. One such form of codeless robots, or bots in this case, is known as Robotics Process Automation. Now it’s not necessary for a child to understand all the nuances of Robotics Process Automation (or RPA), but it would prove beneficial for parents and educators interested in pursuing this concept to brush up on it. Luckily many providers of RPA technology offer free trials so educators and parents can preview it for themselves at no cost and decide whether or not this might be what they’re looking for. 

Essentially, RPA is a form of automation that can scale with as many or as few computer bots as necessary to perform a given task. This form of codeless automation would be beneficial to introduce to children because it is something that is currently leveraged in the real-world workforce, often known as the Digital Worker. The simplicity of RPA and why it is useful to introduce to children is that it uses code to perform computer tasks, yet there is no actual code that is input. Instead, all functions are input via a linear drag-and-drop interface, similar in concept to PowerPoint. Some forms of RPA have an even cooler function, functions can be input via a screen-recording feature in which the bot will mimic the actions of the user without the user actually having to create a line of functions. 

Lastly, if both these options either don’t seem interesting or are a bit inhibitive for one reason or another, try to look into non-profit organizations that provide certain courses to teach coding, such as Code.org or Wonder Workshop’s free K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum Library.  AT&T has a short and sweet Beginners Coding Guide to help students start to learn some of the basic concepts and terminology and can be used as a starting point.

While these activities and courses can be great starters to introducing the concept, there is still no substitute for getting kids away from the screen and teaching them skills using concrete examples that they can interact with. Encouraging them to imagine the scope of possibilities and letting kids go experiment and push the boundaries of their knowledge is the best way to teach kids and keep them interested in the concept of coding. 

Wonder League Robotics Competition FAQ | Year 8

Hello, robotics enthusiasts! If you’re here, you’re probably as excited as we are about the 8th Annual Wonder League Robotics Competition! To help you and your teams have the best possible experience competing this year, we wanted to share answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Who Can Compete:

Any kid, anywhere in the world, ages 6-8 (Innovator Cup) and 9-12 (Pioneer Cup). There are two age brackets: 6-8 and 9-12 and team members have to fall within the age category at some point during the competition. Participants must be the qualifying age for their bracket on the last day of the competition, but if they gain a year during the competition, that’s OK. They won’t age out! 

Competition Brackets:

  • Innovator Cup (Age 6-8)
  • Pioneer Cup (Age 9-12)

What Makes a Team:

A team is made up of a supervising adult coach, and one or more children (up to 5). That’s right, kids can compete solo, but a coach who is 18+ is needed to help with the submission process. For multi-kid teams, each member must be in the same age bracket. Coaches may have multiple teams and can register all their teams after registering as a coach. Please keep in mind that each team will need a separate Class Connect registration.

Note: Younger students may participate in the 9-12 age category, but please be aware that the missions have been designed with older students and advanced coding skills in mind.

What a Team Needs to Compete:

Class Connect subscription

The team is made up of a supervising adult coach and one to five members

  1. Compatible device
  2. 5′ x 8′ mat of 30cm squares and basic prototyping materials
  3. Teams in 6-8 & 9-12 age brackets will need a Dash robot
  4. Internet access to download and upload materials

Teams will need one Dash robot: https://store.makewonder.com/products/dash

Check Device Compatibility here: https://www.makewonder.com/compatibility

We will be offering a mat image that you are welcome to use and print with your local printer, but teams are absolutely encouraged to make their own if they prefer. For more on how to make your own mat, check out this blog post.

Coaches will, of course, need internet access to download the apps and keep up with the competition as it progresses, and may want to print out some kid-facing materials that we will provide at each stage.

Class Connect Subscription:

To register for the 8th Wonder League Robotics Competition requires a subscription to Class Connect, providing additional resources like standards-aligned content assignable right inside a student’s Blockly app. Learn more about Class Connect here.

If you already have a Class Connect subscription, you have access to register a team, based on your student license amount. If you have more than one team of 5 students, you will need to purchase another Coach Success Pack or consider a larger subscription to accommodate more teams and students.

  1. A Coach Success Pack provides:
    Participation in the WLRC for up to 5 students
    Access to all Missions
    Full access to Class Connect, (including Math Activities and Dash’s Neighborhood), for 5 students and 1 teacher for 7 months
    A discount code for a Dash robot from our online store at https://store.makewonder.com

Please note: Teams will need a physical Dash robot to complete the Missions.
The Coaches’ Dashboard in Class Connect will help our coaches register and manage their team(s). The dashboard will be your one-stop shop for all Wonder League Robotics Competition management. You will be able to access the Coaches’ Corner–where all competition-related content and resources will be hosted–the Heartbeat community forum, and all the submission forms right there on the Dashboard.

Accessing Missions for the Innovator Cup and Pioneer Cup:

Once your purchase is completed for Class Connect, you will receive an email to activate your Class Connect license.

Once this license is activated, you will be able to register yourself as a coach and register your teams. This is done on your portal page under the Robotics Competition tab.

Once your team/teams are registered, you will get an additional email from CoAssemble, our partner hosting the missions this year. This email will state you have been registered for the “2022-2023 Coaches Corner Course”.

Click on the link to be redirected to the CoAssemble website, and you will see the course and can access the Coaches’ Corner Guide as well as the Missions (available November 3, 2022).

Still having trouble accessing all the resources in the Coaches’ Corner? If you have previously had a license to Class Connect and registered as a coach, and have not seen Coaches’ Corner added to your CoAssemble list of courses, please email us at support@makewonder.com, and we will provide assistance.

Last Year’s Missions:

Taking a peek at last year’s missions might help you get a sense of what the competition is like. Just sign in with your Class Connect subscription and register as a coach to take a peek at the previous years by going to the Coaches’ Corner and selecting the desired year.

2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Milestone Dates:

Here are important milestone dates to keep in mind as coaches develop timelines for teams competing in the 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition.


  1. October 21, 2022: Student Team Registration Opens
  2. November 3, 2022: Round One Opens + Five Mission Released
  3. January 13, 2023: Student Team Registration Closes
  4. January 27, 2023: Mission Evidence Submission Closes 
  5. January 28-March 5, 2023: Invitational Round Notification 
  6. February 6, 2023: Invitational Round Opens + Final Mission Released
  7. March 24, 2023: Invitational Round Submission Due 
  8. April 10, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Opens 
  9. April 21, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Closes 
  10. May 4, 2023: 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Winner Announcement

NEW Award Category: WLRC People’s Choice Award

Teams may opt in to participate in the WLRC People’s Choice Award category by creating a :30 second video explaining the Team’s Invitational Round Final Mission solution that will be shared with the community at www.makewonder.com/classroom/robotics-competition/ in an “online crowd vote” competition. The WLRC People’s Choice Award allows teams to share and celebrate their work in the WLRC and encourage community support in voting for their team. This is an optional category for teams to enter and will not impact scoring of the Invitational Round submission as they will be judged by STEM and Coding experts using a published rubric.

Children’s Privacy:

We take our participants’ privacy very seriously and comply with COPPA when collecting any information. In the invitational round we ask only for the students’ first names, and request parents’ permission. For those that make it into the Invitational Round, we ask for full names, again with permission. We are never marketing, selling to, or corresponding with children. All contact is through the proxy of the coach.