~ Katie from Teach Your Kids to Code
In this modern era, technology literacy is one of the most important skills that we can give our children. For kids coding and computer programming are skill sets that not only encourage great critical thinking skills, but also are highly desired in the workforce. If you’re like me, you want to give your kids an early start on learning useful technologic skills. But how do we get started if we aren’t computer programmers ourselves?
It turns out that it’s pretty easy to get kids coding without much knowledge yourself. In fact, kids can learn most of the basic concepts of coding as early as Kindergarten! There are so many ways to teach kids about code, and lots of great resources available for free!STEAM, math, and science are best demonstrated with hands-on activities. Here are 5 easy ways to get your kids coding right now:
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1. Go Unplugged
To get started with learning to code, you don’t even need a computer! Unplugged, kids coding activities are the perfect way to introduce coding in a way that’s fun and educational. Kids will learn to explore some basic coding concepts in a hands-on learning environment.
One of the first concepts that little coders learn is what an algorithm is. An algorithm is a set of instructions given to a computer in order to execute a task. We use algorithms every day! When we get dressed we first put on our shirt, and then our pants, and then our socks. These are everyday algorithms at work.
Here are some great ideas for unplugged coding activities for kids:
Kids can learn to code with just a simple deck of cards! Lay out the cards to create a grid. You can use toys to act as the ‘computer’ and ‘obstacles’. Now it’s up to the ‘programmer’ to help get the computer through the maze. Kids will need to give simple instructions in ‘code talk’ to be successful. For the full details check out: Learn to code with a deck of cards!
This next activity was a HUGE hit in our household. There’s nothing better than getting to squirt your parents with a water squirter! This activity expands on the grid method to challenge kids to give instructions all at once. Don’t worry, if the instructions aren’t perfect, kids will get a chance to ‘debug’ their code just like a real programmer does. The objective of this game is to direct the ‘robot parent’ to a blue splash square for a chance to get them soaked! For the full details check out: Water fun! Screen Free Coding Activity
2. Grab a coding robot
There are a range of different toys on the market that help kids to learn to code. For us, we have had a lot of fun playing with coding robots. These little robots are easy to use and have a simple interface that’s perfect for beginners. Kids love to see their robots execute tasks and perform their ‘tricks’ when they are programmed correctly.
Our favorite coding robot is Botley. Botley has a fun design that little kids immediately love. He uses only a remote, making him a great screen free way to get kids coding. He’s so simple to use, even my 4.5 year old was able to understand how to get Botley working from the start. Check out our full review of the Botley Coding Robot for all the details on this fun coding toy for kids.
3. Read a Kids Coding Book
Why not add a coding book to your bedtime routine? There are a variety of coding books aimed for kids of all ages that help introduce coding concepts in a way the whole family will enjoy. For a great first start, I recommend My First Coding Book by DK publishers. This lift the flap book is perfect for beginners. There are fun activities on every page that help kids get used to thinking like a computer.
4. Sign-up for an Online Learning Course
For more sophisticated coders, an online course may be the perfect way to start. I recommend Tynker as a great resource for teaching kids age 7+ to code. Tynker offers a variety of online coding courses that get kids EXCITED about coding. Their tutorials are hands on and practical and are engaging for young kids. Check out Tynker.com for more details.
5. Check out Free Resources on Code.org
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Code.org is hands-down my favourite resource for classroom teachers or parents looking to establish a coding curriculum for their students. This non-profit organization offers loads of value all for free on their web page. Code.org organizes the annual ‘Hour of Code’ campaign that aims to get all kids coding worldwide. Check out their full course catalog here.
Get Kids Coding Today
Coding doesn’t have to be hard! Although it may seem intimidating at first, kids coding is easier than you think. I hope these simple tools will help you introducing coding to your kids. Happy coding!
Katie is a mom of two rambunctious boys and a self-proclaimed super nerd. With a background in neuroscience, she is passionate about sharing her love of all things STEM with her kids. She loves to find creative ways to teach kids computer science and geek out about coding and math. You can find her blogging at Teach Your Kids Code. Check out her facebook page too!