This week marks the 3rd Hour of Code international event. The Hour of Code is a grassroots effort to get people involved in computer coding and computer science. This event runs in early December in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week. Although there is a focus on getting everyone involved in coding during this week, learning to code is certainly not limited by dates. There are tons of activities and resources to teach kids to code throughout the year.
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What is wonderful about learning to code is that anyone can do it. You don't even need to be sitting at a computer! The basics of computer coding rely on patterning and sequencing. These are excellent critical thinking skills that are the backbone of many disciplines including science. Learning to code allows us to take a science and technology skill and create something new.
Although I advocate for children spending time outside and playing with things that do not have screens, I believe that learning the basics of coding at a young age puts students in a better position to learn computer science and other sciences as they grow up. The reality of our world is that it is digitally driven, and I'd rather kids understand how their devices work and not simply using them blindly!
I looked at some of the different resources for coding in my post "Children's STEAM Festival: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology (Coding, Making, Robotics and More!)" If you are looking for some ideas of how to get involved in computer coding with kids, this would be a great place to start.
You are never too young or too old to develop coding skills! An excellent article on supporting classroom learning with computer science, particularly in Kindergarten with early readers is "Coding for Kindergarten" from Edutopia. The author, Sam Patterson, a K-5 technology integration specialist very clearly lays out the skills that students learn when they begin to code. Things like counting, cause and effect, planning and problem-solving. Patterson also outlines how programming promotes social learning. "Coding Class, Then Naptime: Computer Science for the Kindergarten Set" is another great read illustrating how learning to code at a young age (with non-screen options) can set the foundation for learning in many areas.
Examples of coding without screens:
- Checkers Math Pre-Coding without an App from Sugar Aunts blog.
- "Can Learning to Knit Help Learning to Code?" Teach coding through knitting!!
- Coding for Kids (Without a Computer) from Science Sparks
- Robot Turtles - a board game that secretly teaches coding to kids 4 and up.
Learning to Code with Technology
- Dot and Dash are robots that teach kids how to code and program.
- Bee Bot is another robot geared towards very young children. This is a great tool to tie into other lessons in the classroom as it helps with sequencing and problem solving.
There are tons of free and inexpensive apps and websites to teach coding.
- Check out Code Studio for activities on the screen and some that get kids moving to learn to code.
- Tynker is a free online coding course for kids age 5 and up.
- Daisy the Dinosaur is a free app that allows kids to learn the basics to programming their own computer game.
- Hopscotch teaches kids coding through game development as well. This is another free app that is directly linked to Hour of Code activities.
Looking to teach coding to middle or high school? Check out curriculum resources at Code.org or CodeHS.
More great ideas at my Pinterest Board: Coding for Kids!