Alexa is almost every family’s go-to plug for news, music, entertainment, games, and just basic random stuff. Kids find it thrilling to talk to a “human smart speaker” who can answer questions like “Alexa, what day is it?”, “Alexa, rap for me”, “Alexa, what’s the magic word?”, among other interesting stuff.
There’s good news too: kids can now program Alexa skills on Amazon smart speakers. Alexa skills are just like mobile apps; you can add or remove a skill at will. You can play music, order food, learn a hobby, listen to podcasts, etc. Not only can you choose from the available skills on your Alexa app, but you can also learn how to program your Alexa skills!
Overview of Teaching Kids How to Code Alexa
Teaching your kids how to code their own Alexa skills is another way to have fun and learn along with them. In addition to the many features of Alexa dot speakers, kids can learn how to add their desired features.
The added features could be a question, an action, a word, a song, the answer to a question, and much more. Kids can also learn the basics of programming, and how to code their Alexa skills on the app.
You can also share your Alexa skills with your family and friends, or publish them online for the public. Some of the Alexa skills kids can design include video skills, game skills, audio and music skills, among others.
All About Coding Alexa Skills (Kid Programmers)
If you aim to teach kids how to program Alexa skills, then there are certain terms they need to be accustomed to. These terms would guide kids through the relationship between coding and designing Alexa skills. They would also learn the basics of programming and design.
Alexa Skill Parts
Alexa skills, just like other programming skills, are divided into two parts- Interaction model and the Hosted service.
The interaction model, also known as frontend, concerns itself with the skill function and functionalities of the app (Alexa).
The hosted service, also called backend, serves as the website host and is responsible for executing users’ requests.
Kid programmers do not need to bother about the backend when programming Alexa skills. Alexa skills for kids focus on how to build skills and make them function.
Alexa Skill Blueprints
Alexa skill blueprints are a combination of skill templates from which kids can choose.
Before you can program an Alexa skill, you need to sign in to Alexa skill blueprints with your Amazon account details. This would ensure that the skills you create are available on your amazon echo device.
There are specific blueprints for kids, but parents and teachers need to sign in and permit kids to use those blueprints.
Select a Blueprint
A blueprint is a template. So, selecting a blueprint means selecting a template. Kids can either choose from the available blueprints on the app. Some of the blueprints kids can choose from include kids fortune teller, the sea princess, sorting game, moon landing, quiz and facts, yes no maybe, and many more.
Kids can also program custom skills on Alexa. This could be something personal or peculiar to them alone. To create a skill, whether featured or custom made, you need to do the following:
- Pick a name for your skill
- Edit at any time; you can either add or remove from the existing content
- You can be as creative as you like, and customize the skill to your taste.
- To activate your new skill, you need to grant your kids access to it on amazon kids.
Kids can learn the process of creating a real app through amazon skill blueprints. They will also learn critical thinking, sequencing, data input, decomposition, algorithm, functionality, manipulation, among others, all of which are tied to programming.
Create an Interaction Model
After picking a name for your skill, you need to create a series of models that you can use to activate it. These requests must be related to the skill, for instance, if you create a series of game skills, you can say “Alexa, let’s play a game”.
In turn, Alexa can suggest one of the games for you to play. You should however note that Alexa cannot suggest beyond the specific skills you code in it. Whenever you instruct Alexa to perform a certain skill, it will always be within your input; no more, no less.
Alexa models are divided into four (4) parts:
- Smart Home- This skill controls home devices like smart TVs, cameras, lights, etc. The model is also responsible for the words you say to activate your requests. The way you input your code, therefore, determines how your skill responds to the request.
- Custom Mode- Kids can use their creativity to build a code and Alexa skill. To do this, you need to build an interaction model and define the requests related to the custom skill. First, you need to create your intents, then specific requests or instructions to activate the codes (intents). Then, create a suitable name for the skill (intent), and launch.
Other Alexa models include video and flash briefing.
Launch Your Skill
Alexa would notify you once your skill is ready for launch. Then, you can test it out by using your voice command with a simple “Alexa”, followed by your request. Alexa skills are limited to your input; no random/ foreign activities can be added to it.
So, you can launch your Alexa skill on your echo device to ensure it executes your skills accurately. If not, you can edit until you get your desired output.
Share Your Skill
Kids can also choose to share their skill(s) with their friends and family. They can also publish it on the Alexa skills store, although this comes with its terms and conditions.
Things to Know About Alexa Skills for Programming
Just like other skills, Alexa skills for programming has its own pros and cons.
It keeps kids engaged
Kids are already obsessed with engaging their Alexa devices at home. Many times, they also wish that Alexa could perform a certain task, answer a particular request, or play a specific game with them.
So, teaching kids how to program Alexa skills is sure to keep them engaged and glued. When they are not busy with homework or extracurricular activities, they can be engaged with coding and testing out an Alexa skill.
They learn about programming
Coding Alexa skills for kids introduces them to the basics of programming. They will learn about how to use console commands like run, begin, open, start, blank, load, resume, leave, etc.
Kids can also learn the process of inputting and activating codes. The process of putting intents and activating an Alexa skill is synonymous with building an app or robot. Alexa skills for kids is a great avenue for kids to get started on programming.
It improves kids’ creativity
Alexa skills, especially custom skills, require a great deal of creativity. Kids can maximize their creative potential to design a skill of their choice. They will also acquire problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
So far, Alexa kids for kids is safe to use. Kids do not need to be introduced to the complex parts of programming an Alexa skill, kids just want to have fun, and coding an Alexa skill for kids is easy, simple, and safe to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Kids do not need to have advanced knowledge of coding before they can design an Alexa skill. A basic knowledge of how coding works is sufficient for kids to get started on Alexa skills. Kids with zero knowledge of coding can also learn how to design an Alexa skill. Alexa skills for kids is flexible and creates room for amateurs.
One thing that anyone should know before creating a skill is that anyone can create an Alexa skill. Although knowledge of how to code is a plus, you can still get started with the basic Alexa skills. You can read through this article to follow the guide on how to create an Alexa skill.
Summary of Teaching Kids How to Develop an Alexa Skill
Get started with your Alexa kids today!
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