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Donald Duck initiates toddlers into the mysteries of coding

Programming languages have been part of the primary school curriculum for more than a year, but children can now start learning it even younger. Qvik served as a consulting expert on Akun aamutoimiaparaatti (Donald’s Morning Machine), one of the first coding books for toddlers.

Donald Duck does not take life too seriously or give up when everything doesn’t work out perfectly. Along with his universal popularity, this makes the cartoon duck a perfect character to introduce coding to families.

“Compared to subjects such as Finnish and mathematics, it can be a bit difficult for parents to help their kids with coding”, says the book’s author and Sanoma Kids Media’s Business Development Manager Ulla Hemminki-Reijonen. “Donald helps you realize that experimentation is important and it’s OK to make mistakes when coding.”

Packed full of gadgets typical of Duckburg, the book offers instructive reading for all ages. However, the primary focus of the book is to give small children an introduction to the subject through interesting stories and nice, colorful pictures. That is also why the book was printed on thick cardboard that is easy for little hands to grab and can take a little nibble or two.

“Our idea was to really make this My First Coding Book. Then, when the child grows a little, he or she can look under the hood and see how the thing actually works.”

Storybooks can get kids started on the subject

In the book’s story, Little Helper has programmed a device to help sleepy-headed Donald get up and going as smoothly as possible in the morning. The book introduces the basic concepts of programming through waking Donald up, brushing his teeth and feeding him his breakfast. The little readers will be introduced to functions, conditional statements, loops and variables, among other things.

“All commands presented in the book are basic programming concepts, used in the code of every digital service”, says Senior Software Engineer Timo Hintsa of Qvik, who helped with the book as a consulting expert. “They were also picked because you could build a fun story around them.”

The book was tested on actual toddlers during writing, and the colorful illustrations feature plenty of details for little eyes to fix on. Even children too young to know what coding is can follow Donald’s morning routine and marvel at things such as his funny slippers.

“My own kids are no longer quite in the target group, but I envisioned the story through my godchild. In addition to teaching coding, we tried to make the story and pictures so interesting that kids will want to read the book time and again”, says Hintsa. “Coding is kind of a subplot in the book, creating a story that the child can understand one day, when he or she is older.”