Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Code
Following up on my Why We Need to Teach Kid to Code, here are some fun ways to help them learn. So cool – wish some of these were around when I was an 8 year old learning to code on my Atari 800!
(this is an excerpt from my article for SheKnows)
Games that teach computational thinking (ages 4+)
For kids who’ve spent their entire lives on mobile devices, games like Kodable, Move the Turtle and Lightbot will feel as natural as any of their other games. But play these versions and they’ll soon be learning programming logic and how to think like a computer.
Play a game, write some code (ages 8-16)
Scratch is a programming language that allows kids to create interactive stories, games and animations in a very visual, drag and drop manner. What’s wonderful about Scratch is not just the power of how much can be created with it, but also the community your kids will join when they begin programming in it. Rather than having to start from scratch, kids can play with and modify games and stories that others have written, remixing them as they see fit. Then they can share the programs they write with others to show off their own creations.
Become a wizard who uses spells written in code to win the princess (ages 8+)
Build your own robots (ages 10+)
Lego Mindstorms combines the LEGOs we know and love with motors, sensors and remote controls that your kids can program to do whatever their imaginations dream up. With Mindstorms, your kids can build robots that walk, talk and do as they command.
Create Minecraft Mods (advanced)
If your kids play Minecraft, they’ll eventually grow bored with the available mods and want to start building their own. Since Mods are built with real-world programming languages like Java, this is a great way to take their programming skills to the next level. YouthDigital’s Learn Java with Minecraft looks like a super fun way to learn through their video-guided, online course which shows kids how to program in Java in order to create their own swords, armors, tools, food, achievements and more.
Learn both physical computing and coding with a Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer you can buy for under $50. Simply hook it up to a TV or monitor, plug in a keyboard and mouse and presto. Instant, affordable, fully functioning computer. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the hardware that computers run on. Plus, there are versions of Scratch and Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi, which make it a great tool for kids who are learning to code.
As a bonus, Minecraft for Raspberry Pi is the only edition of the game that lets players program it directly, giving your kids even more options for controlling their Minecraft experience (this time, using code written in Python). Find this and other Pi learning resourceshere.
Photo credits: CodeCombat