The following is an article from the January Issue of ‘Teaching The AvatarGeneration’ Magazine. Download this issue for just $1.99 and check our February issue all about the Flipped Classroom.
Learning how to code has many benefits for kids. As the world becomes more dependent on technology, the need for computer programmers and software developers will only continue to increase. Kids who know how to code are preparing to compete in a competitive job market. However, the promise of a job in the future may not be enough to get kids interested in learning to code. These 11 tools to teach kids how to code are designed to make learning to code engaging, entertaining and relevant.
Developed by individuals at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a programming language and coding software just for kids. Using Scratch, kids can create digital artwork, tell stories and design games or other simulations. They can then upload their projects to be viewed by other users throughout the world.
2. Gamestar Mechanic
Gamestar Mechanic is a game-based digital learning platform that teaches kids how to design their own games. Teachers can download sample lessons plans with learning guides and join their teacher community for support.
Alice offers a unique way to help kids learn how to code. The program features 3-D objects in a virtual world. Kids use their knowledge of programming to help animate those objects so they can interact with the world they exist in.
With GameSalad, kids can create games for smartphones and tablets. Although the GameSalad Creator software does not require any coding, users can still learn about programming and design. Through the program, users can actually design, test and publish their games.
GreenFoot is focused on Java programming. The program uses an object orientation method to make learning Java easier. Actors are placed in virtual worlds and users program to help those actors move about.
Designed for those eight and older, Roblox gives kids a chance to interact with others in a virtual world and build places to add to that world. They can also use the Roblox Studio to create their own games.
In Minecraft’s 3-D world players build structures using textured blocks by controlling settings and activities in the world. Many of those structures are used to protect them against the monsters that come at night. Special programs also allow players to build computers and animated objects within the game.
8. LEGO Mindstorms
LEGO Mindstorms appeals to kids with an interest in robotics. Using the drag-and-drop programming software kids can build their coding skills as they design programs to make the Mindstorms robots move.
StageCast does not use a programming language, but it helps kids gain a general understanding of programming. Using the Creator, they can add characters and then use a mouse to tell the characters what to do. Rules and lines of code are generated to create games and simulations they can share.
10. Move the Turtle
Introduce students to the Logo programming language with Move the Turtle app. They complete basic tasks that teach them some of the more general codes. Once they have grasped the basics, kids can move on to creating programs of their own.
Cargo-Bot shows kids what they can do if they learn to code. The puzzle game was created with Codea, an iPad coding app. After exploring Cargo-Bot, kids may be inspired to create something of their own using Codea.