# How to Explain Loops to Kids

Last Updated: January 18, 2019 3:19 pm
How to Explain Loops to Kids

## How to Explain Loops to Kids

There are two basic types of loops in programming: “counting” loops and “conditional” loops. Within those categories are “while loops” and “is for loops.” Below are examples of activities you can do at home to help your child understand the loop definition in computer science.

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## What is a Loop?

A loop in programming is like a “repeat” button for instructions. Imagine you have a list of things to do, and you want the computer to do them over and over again. You use a loop to tell the computer, “Keep doing this until I say stop.”

## What are Loop Examples in Computer Science?

Imagine you have a basket of apples, and you want to count how many apples are in it. Instead of picking up each apple and counting one by one, you can use a loop.

• A for loop is like having a friend count the apples for you, and you say, “Count these apples from the first to the last one, and tell me when you’re done.” It’s useful when you know exactly how many times you want to do something, like counting all the apples in the basket.
Python
```for apple in basket: ```
``` count += 1 ```
• A while loop is like having a friend who keeps counting apples until you tell them to stop. You might say, “Keep counting apples until I have 10.” It’s great when you’re not sure how many times you’ll need to do something, and you want to keep going as long as a condition is true.
Python
```while apples_count < 10: ```
``` count += 1 ```

So, loops are like helpers that save you time by repeating tasks in your code, making it easier to handle lots of data or perform actions over and over again without writing the same code over and over. They’re a fundamental part of programming and can make your programs efficient and powerful.

### Counting Loops: Brushing Your Teeth

We use a counting looping algorithm when we want to tell the computer to repeat an action a certain number of times. Let’s take a look at how to apply a counting computer programming loop to brushing your teeth:

-Bring a whiteboard and marker (or paper and pen) into the bathroom when it’s time for your child to brush her teeth.

-Ask: “Are there any steps we repeat?” Perhaps your child will mention that we should brush our tongue several times at the end of the routine.

-Say: “Pretend we’re writing instructions for someone who’s never brushed their teeth before. We have to write each action by itself on a line. How would we tell them to brush their tongue 3 times?” (Depending on your child’s understanding, she may be able to figure out how to write the instructions with some guidance from you. Or, you can write while your child gives you the answers. Remember that if your child writes the answers themselves, they’ll be more likely to remember what they learn, so it’s a good idea to have them write as much as they can.)

-The end result should look like this:

brush tongue
brush tongue
brush tongue

-Say: “Can you think of a word that means to do something more than once?” (“Repeat”)

-Write:

Repeat

-Say: “What action do we need to repeat?” (Brush tongue)

Repeat

brush tongue

-Say: “How many times do you brush your tongue?” (3)

Repeat [3 times]

brush tongue

-Explain to your child that together you just wrote a counting loop–a set of instructions telling someone to repeat a sequence of actions.

-Have your child brush their teeth. Can they think of any other steps that repeat?

### Conditional Loops: Dance Party!

A conditional loop is a loop that tells a computer to repeat a sequence of actions until a condition is met. Follow these steps to teach your child how to use conditional loops:

-Write or have your child write the following instructions on a whiteboard:

clap
step left
step right

-Say: “We’re going to pretend we are computers, and these are our instructions.”

-Say: “We need to keep performing these instructions over and over.” (Repeat motions several times.)

-Say: “We need to know when to stop. We will stop when we’re tired.”

-Write:

Repeat [until I’m tired]

clap
step left
step right

-Say: “Now we can dance and stop when we’re tired!”
-Say: We just made a conditional loop. In computer languages, conditional loops tell the computer to perform an action until something happens. In our case, that something is until I’m tired. When that happens, you can stop dancing.

-Dance until you get tired to reinforce your child’s understanding of this concept!

Kids learn programming concepts like loops, algorithms, pattern recognition, and more when they code with Tynker! With our full range of learn-to-code solutions, including Tynker Junior and coding courses for real-world languages like Python and JavaScript, there’s something for your child, whatever their level! Learn more about our 2,000+ coding activities from Minecraft to Barbie!

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