In a world where programming skills are becoming more and more important, teaching kids to code early on can be invaluable for their future. Programming is the new digital literacy, and teaching kids when they’re young ensures the foundational knowledge they’ll need to learn more advanced programming skills as they grow up.
Now, when we say “teach kids to code” we don’t mean that kids are going to be learning Java methods in the first grade. When teaching kids to code, practical knowledge is less important than the problem solving mindset that successful programming requires. Encouraging kids to develop this mindset and express their creativity through computer programs prepares them for a bright future learning how to program.
Introducing kids to coding typically involves block based programming, in which blocks on screen can be rearranged and snapped in place to execute simple tasks. Then, kids can be gradually introduced to text based programming and real programming languages.
Here are 8 resources you can use to teach kids to code, listed in order of increasing age level:
There isn’t a much better way to teach kids to code than through interactive games. Tynker offers free coding games for all age levels and is one of the most basic introductions to coding that kids can get.
Kids program the little character in Kodable in order to make it through the maze. The program is available as an iPad and Android app so kids can play it on the go.
Made with Code Projects teach kids basic algorithms through block based programming. There are a variety of projects that are geared towards different interests, such as the one featured here based on the animated movie Inside Out.
Similar to Kodable, this app features interactive exercises that teach kids basic coding algorithms by moving the turtle through a series of puzzles.
MIT’s block based programming application is an intuitive way to teach kids to code without teaching them an actual programming language. Kids can interact with the blocks in complex ways to build programs to their hearts’ desire. Scratch is a good bridge from block to text based programming.
After they grasp block based programming on have played around with Scratch, kids will be ready to move on to text based programming. CodeMonkey is a text based programming application that introduces a kiddy language called CoffeeScript to build up to creating simple HTML5 games.
Mozilla X-Ray Goggles
With X-Ray goggles for the web, kids can spend some time exploring and observing how their favorite websites work before learning the languages behind them. Kids can benefit from indirect learning, and familiarizing themselves with HTML5 can benefit their ultimate understanding of the language.
HTML5 for Beginning Beginners
Once kids have a foundational knowledge of block based and text based programming, they can begin to learn a real life programming language. LearnToProgram’s HTML5 for Beginning Beginners course is geared towards absolute beginners and can be the perfect kid-friendly introduction to real computer programming. Their experience with block and text based programming all culminates in this one course in which they can build a strong foundation of computer programming skills.
With the knowledge and skills gained from these 8 resources, kids will be well on their way to a bright future learning how to program.