The job opportunities that will be available to today’s children in ten to fifteen years will be much different than we have seen in the past. Many jobs that don’t require any computer skills now may require the ability to code by the time these kids are job-hunting.
Learning to code helps students prepare for the future. Luckily for them, there are many different sites, classes, and apps available for them to learn coding in a fun, interactive way.
As a former elementary teacher who also spent time teaching technology to young children, I’ve identified a few sites that allow students as young as four to begin learning about code. There are many others out there, but these are three of the most engaging, and they use sound teaching practices.
1. Scratch and ScratchJr
Scratch, the online coding platform for kids, was created by MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Group. You can use it online, or you can download it for offline use. Kids can use Scratch on their tablets or the Web. Scratch Junior is only available on tablets.
Scratch requires kids to save their work to the Scratch server. Because learners of all levels can see what more advanced learners are creating and get ideas from them.
An easy-to-use visual block interface, so kids don’t have to type code, is a huge advantage for beginning coders. The blocks allow the kids to experiment with code and learn the fundamentals of game development, graphic design, and animation.
Another advantage of using Scratch is that the program allows users to share their creations with the community.
The Scratch platform does an excellent job of teaching the concepts of coding while also encouraging creativity and critical thinking. The kids can control almost every aspect of their design from the background to the sound!
Scratch is best used by kids who are around eight years old and older, but there is a version designed specifically for kids who are non-readers and early readers called ScratchJr.
Code.org is one of the most popular sites that offers coding tutorials for children. There are courses available for all ages from four years old and up.
Code.org offers five free computer science courses of varying complexity, beginning with the 14-lesson Pre-reader Express. The site also provides short tutorial videos delivered by famous programmers like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. To make it even more engaging, the students can program mini-games with popular characters from Minecraft, Disney, and some popular games.
There is a project library containing millions of games created by students on the site that others can play or remix.
The courses are arranged by grade, so kids won’t choose lessons that are too difficult for them, and they are rewarded with a certificate to recognize completing a lesson.
3. Tynker and Tynker Junior
Like most sites for beginners, Tynker uses interlocking blocks of code. The children connect and test the blocks of code to get the correct movement or other action. Kids can create their own projects, share with the online community, and collaborate with other users.
The lessons use a wide variety of themes from dragons to Hot Wheels to life on Mars to appeal to a wide range of interests.
There is also a Tynker Junior available for tablets. It introduces children between the ages of four and seven to coding.
If you have children in elementary school or know some, explore some of these sites with them. By using sites like this, students will become more familiar with the concepts of coding, which will not only prepare them for the future but also improve problem-solving and communication skills.