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10 Cool Resources to Teach Kids Coding
If learning how to code was a valuable skill in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it is even more of a big deal now. Our kids can have a huge advantage over the peers if they start learning how to code at an early age. Not only can it give them a creative edge, it can also help them develop critical skills, such as problem-solving, reasoning, critical thinking, project planning/management, and teamwork.
Unlike back in the day, when learning to code was like learning an alien language, these days, there are tons of great resources available that teach kids how to code in a way that is not only easy to understand, but enjoyable. Check out these 10 cool resources to teach kids coding. Perhaps the one you have been looking for is waiting for you to discover it.
Made with Code
Of course, I can’t talk about coding without mentioning powerhouse, Google. They have a fantastic website that is filled with coding projects and events that young kids can take part in. Made with Code was created with young girls in mind. They recognized that the earning potential for computer science is tremendous (computer scientists earn more than $15K above the average!). Whereas 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, only .02% of high school girls plan to major in computer science in college. That’s a huge gap that they are trying to close by helping to not only keep their interest going, but to show them the many amazing things they can accomplish with coding. Backed by big names such as Pixar and 20th Century Fox, there are a lot of people committed to the cause. Some of the projects available teach kids how to Create Your Own Snapchat Geofilter, Emojify themselves, and create GIFs.
Created by the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a website where kids can create interactive stories, games, and animations and then share their work with the world. Created with 8 to 16-year-olds in mind, this free community is a wonderful resource. They also have an online “Get Started” guide to make using the website easy. It includes 12 project tutorials, a parent/educator guide, downloadable activity cards, and starter projects that you and your kids can use to jumpstart creativity. If you have limited internet access or data, they even have an offline editor you can download.
Have kids that are too young to use Scratch? No worries! Scratch Jr is designed specifically for ages 5 to 7 to give young kids a head-start at programming interactive stories and games. In addition to the free app, they also have a Scratch Jr website. On the website, you and your child can use printable activity cards that walk you through creating scenes in Scratch Jr. You can watch 8 sample projects to learn the functions of blocks, brainstorm ideas, and get a great visual of creative storytelling. Kids can also have fun using the Paint Editor to transform (or create) characters in the Scratch Jr Library.
When it comes to creating and discovering games that are both fun and educational, Thinkfun is in a league of their own. One game that they sell is Robot Turtles- “the first board game for little programmers”! Made for ages 4 and up, Robot Turtles was promoted on Kickstarter and apparently was the most backed game in the crowdfunding giant’s history. That alone tells you something – parents REALLY want their kids to learn coding and felt like this game is an awesome way to do it. Playing the game is so simple that you can teach your kids to code before they even learn to read! The goal is match each player’s turtle to the master jewel in the middle by using command cards to figure out how to get to the prize. Parents who have bought the game enjoy that it teaches their kids to think ahead, strategize, follow directions, and problem solve. You can buy Robot Turtles on Amazon.
Another Thinkfun offering is Code Master, which was designed for ages 8 and up. This one teaches kids how to program without a computer. Players travel to a different world, seeking out Power Crystals. During the journey, you “use programming logic to navigate the map”, trying to figure out the right sequence of actions to get you where you need to be. The game includes 60 challenges that increase in complexity. Although the game is meant to be a one-player game, many people let their kids pair up to work through the obstacles. You can buy Code Master here on Amazon.
If you have a child whose life goal is to be a video game programmer, this free award-winning app (designed for ages 9-13) could be the perfect thing to help them get started. It helps them learn to code by creating games. Kids can either use video tutorials or just dive right in and create projects from scratch. They can also play and remix the games created by millions of other people who’ve downloaded the app. They can even get feedback on their projects and follow their favorite creators.
This is another one specifically for kids who want to learn how to design video games. It is designed for 7 to 14-year-olds, but they highly encourage the whole family (from kids to grandparents) join in on the fun. There are three components to the program. The first is playing a game that teaches the principles of game design. They earn “sprites” throughout the game. Once they reach a certain level of sprites, they can dive into the second component: game design through a drag-and-drop tool. Then they can take advantage of the third component- the community where players can share, review, and collaborate on games with other players as well as professional game designers. They can also take part in challenges and contests. Registering an account is free and includes access to your first game design quest. However, to unlock the rest, there is a one-time $19.95 fee. They also offer a $299 online course for those who are ready to work with an instructor and gaming professionals.
Daisy the Dinosaur
If you have preschoolers at home, this app (only available on iOS devices) helps young kids begin exploring coding concepts using a simple drag-and-drop platform. Your kids will love using these commands to get Daisy the Dinosaur to jump, turn, grow, and spin.
These are just a few of the resources out there that can help you teach your kids how to code. There are a lot more out there. You just have to be willing to dig through to find the ones that work best for your kids. We hope you guys have fun exploring!
Do you know of any awesome programs, apps, games, or even books that help teach kids how to code? If so, let us know in the comments below.