Coding and helping Santa

It's been a while since we did any activities based around screen-free coding skills, and given we're spending most of our time at home I've been revisiting some old ideas and trying them out again.  I modified the setup this time to deploy a Lego Santa minifigure to make it Christmas themed (and therefore more exciting!).  The idea was for my son to find Santa's missing sack of presents by following the instructions in sequence.

Where is Santa's missing sack?

To give more possible moves for Santa, instead of a baking tray or ice cube tray as we've used before, I took a tray and wrapped string around it, secured in place with sellotape.  I put our coloured rice and pasta mix into the tray, and hid Santa's sack in one square and placed Santa in another square.  Then I used some little cards I made last year to put a sequence of instructions for my son, starting with a 'go' card and finishing with 'stop'.  You could just write instructions on paper but the cards make it easy to do different setups quickly.

Following the instructions

My son was really enthusiastic about helping Santa, but that meant he rushed following the instructions and ended up in the wrong square due to a couple of errors.  I explained that he'd missed some steps and he went back to the start and did it again more carefully, checking each move with me, and finding himself in the right place to unearth the missing presents!  He was so pleased with himself that he wanted me to bury the sack again, and again, and again.  Then he invented a new game where Santa lost his hat instead, and wanted me to set that up a few more times.

Looking for his hat!

We'll give this another go soon.  There's no reason it has to be Christmassy, you could have any missing object the person has to find (we've had 'treasure' in the form of a coin before), but it definitely made it fun for my 4 year old.