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We are always looking for new educational toys and activities for the children. One thing that is huge right now is coding. Teaching children to design and create anything from cartoons to robots using simple computer coding. But where to start? Well, the BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is just the thing.
What is the BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit?
The HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is a powerful, programmable Internet of Things mini-computer, packed with a suite of sensors. It is both WiFi and Bluetooth enabled and can inspire children to create dozens of different games, devices and projects.
Getting started with HiFive
When you first open the box you’re met with a variety of computer parts – the HiFive Inventor mini-computer, an external speaker, a light up USB LED cable, an external battery pack and alligator clips and a Getting Started guide.
We were directed to the HiFive website where we set up an account and got started within a couple of minutes. It couldn’t have been simpler.
The great thing about the BBC HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is that online you have a parent account and child accounts. This means that you can track the children’s progress but also leave them to work through the program within their own safe interface.
Do children need to love Doctor Who to enjoy this kit?
The kit is Doctor Who branded but if your children have no previous knowledge of Doctor Who, don’t let that put you off! It’s fantastic for children who already love Doctor Who and those who haven’t even heard of the franchise.
The 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, leads the learning and talks you through each project. She is there to explain instructions and aims, let you know when you get something wrong and praise you when you learn something new.
The whole interface is animated with an animated Doctor Who and so many cartoons to code yourself, games to work through and puzzles to solve. It’s cute, fun and engaging from the very start and something I feel that all children would really enjoy.
Tynker Coding for Kids
The BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit using the Tynker coding platform. It’s something the children weren’t familiar with before – although they have used other similar coding platforms – and it’s one that is used worldwide and that LP and Little Man were able to pick up instantly. It’s really intuitive to use and straightforward for even young children.
What can you do with the HiFive Inventor Coding Kit?
Initially I thought that the coding kit may be something the children use once, for a day or two, complete and then put in a cupboard never to use again. But how wrong could I have been!
The kit has literally thousands of lessons and activities to work through. When we first set it up the children used it solidly for two hours, working together to complete tasks, and they didn’t even scratch the surface.
So far the children have developed an intergalactic weather service, built alien musical instruments and made a working compass. They have been amazed at how many things they can turn the HiFive Inventor into and how each thing is created using small steps in coding, teaching them so much along the way.
In between these big projects they have been working through the HiFive Inventor lessons, learning to code basic cartoons, get animations to follow their mouse cursor and create basic games through coding too.
Block coding for beginners
The HiFive Inventor Coding Kit introduces children to block coding. To use the kit children don’t need any previous experience, it’s a real introduction to coding that children will love.
But, if like our children, they have a basic knowledge of coding already, the HiFive Inventor Coding Kit will build on this, teaching them even more and helping them to create so many different things all at their own pace.
Unlike formal courses or classroom based lessons, the HiFive Inventor modules can be worked through in a child’s own time. They can do ten lessons in a row and then not use it for a week if they want to. Or, they can do one lesson a day. They can use it in a way that works for them.
This is great from a parent’s perspective too. I love giving the children something to look forward to at the end of their school day. Being able to have a lesson on the HiFive Inventor as a treat is a real incentive to LP and Little Man. Plus, if we’ve agreed one lesson they know that however long it takes is how long they have been switching the computer off and doing something else.
Once the children get more proficient at coding they can move on to MicroPython for advanced coders and the Tynker Workshop environment for virtually unlimited creativity. The kit if constantly helping children to take their coding skillset to the next level and push themselves to learn more in a fun but challenging way.
Within the HiFive Inventor interface there is a game-like system of levels an experience points meaning that children earn points and climb levels as they progress. This is another way that the kit keeps children engaged and motivated to carry on working through. All children love getting extra XP and they are awarded certificates as they progress too.
What are our overall thoughts of the BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit?
The children absolutely love the HiFive Inventor kit. They have used it every afternoon since it arrived and I know they’ll be using it for a long time to come. It’s amazing to see them so inspired and it’s fantastic that they’re so engaged in doing something educational too.
The BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is a fantastic investment for any family. It’s something siblings can use together or independently and, aimed at age seven and over, it’s something that has real longevity too.
Here’s a little video we made using the HiFive Inventor Coding Kit: