These days, so many kids are interested in learning how to code. To them, it's a game and a fun challenge that involves patterns, problem solving, and creativity. Coding to create programs and apps is something that will be a critical part of the future, but it's not yet a formal part of our elementary curriculum. I firmly believe in its relevance, and so I'm putting some helpful information and links here for kids and parents who may want to explore the wonderful world of coding at home!
- Scratch – Scratch is a free educational programming language that was developed at M.I.T.. It’s been designed to be fun and easy to learn. Scratch has tools for creating interactive stories, games, art, simulations, and more. Scratch even has its own paint editor and a sound editor built-in. In Scratch, users drag these blocks from a block palette and attach them to other blocks like a jigsaw puzzle. Structures of multiple blocks are called scripts. This method of programming (building code with blocks) is referred to as “drag & drop programming”. There is an onscreen step-by-step tutorial on how to get started that makes learning easy for kids. Note: This past summer, a Scratch Jr. version came out for iPads. It’s a similar program designed for even younger kids. What a great to get our littlest ones started in coding!
- Code.Org - The philosophy of code.org is that everybody should be able to code and have access to learning those skills needed. Their website suggests that children as young as 4 can learn to create their own programs! This site also uses “drag & drop programming” and has fabulous instructional videos in their “LEARN” section (think Mark Zuckerberg & Bill Gates, among others!) They also endorse an amazing movement called “An Hour of Code”…Join the largest learning event in history, Dec 8-14, 2014…The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 170+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.
- Tynker is a really cute and very good that teaches coding to youngsters, but they have now started charging $50 to enroll in each course. They offer two courses (beginner and intermediate) for at-home use. If your child gets REALLY into coding, I do believe this may be a site in which to consider investing.
BotLogic – This site starts very simply and in a game-like format, it teaches the basics of really just understanding programming language. From their site: “BotLogic.us is an educational puzzle game that challenges kids and adults to tackle complex logic problems while teaching valuable programming concepts. Using simple commands (and eventually code), players program their bots to navigate through progressively challenging mazes. As their skills improve, players earn rewards by using the fewest number of commands and go head-to-head with friends in programming tournaments. It's smart. It's fun. BotLogic.us is all about helping children and adults to develop and maintain strong logic and spatial reasoning skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.”
- Code Monkey: Code Monkey is just adorable! It starts with the simplest tasks and asks children to help a monkey get some bananas by programming code. It’s simple coding, in sequentially harder challenges, but it’s pretty addicting. I signed up for a free account without and email and just kept playing. All you need to do is choose a username and password! This is definitely a great site to try! From their site: “From first steps in coding to advanced subjects in computer science. We’ve got you covered with intuitive, bite-sized lessons. Taught by cute animals! Finished the tutorials? Start creating & sharing your own CodeMonkey Challenges for others to solve, and eventually any kind of original HTML5 games and apps!”