In this article we’ll be talking about fostering logical thinking through coding instruction for kids. We’re also going to have a gander at some of the best online resources out there for coding instruction. Other than a possible career in computer sciences, what does coding knowledge have to offer students? Let’s hear from some of the experts.
- Melanie Pinola from LifeHacker says that coding for kids “teaches vital problem-solving, creativity, and communication skills.”
- Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and co-developer of Scratch, writes that kids “are not just learning to code, they are coding to learn. In addition to learning mathematical and computational ideas (such as variables and conditionals), they are also learning strategies for solving problems, designing projects, and communicating ideas. “
- James Atwood, a software developer, says that programming must come with a sense of collaboration. “If you want your kids to have a solid computer science education, encourage them to go build something cool. Not by typing in pedantic command words in a programming environment, but by learning just enough about how that peculiar little blocky world inside their computer works to discover what they and their friends can make with it together.”
Here are a few sites that are geared toward coding instruction for kids. Explore, learn, and get coding.
Get your feet wet with simple games using Google’s Blockly programming interface. Following in the footsteps of Bill Gates’ mantra of “a computer in every household,” Code.org’s mission is to get as many kids programming as possible. It uses graphical user interfaces coupled with easy-to-follow tutorials.
Lessons are fun and interactive, and take no more than an hour. In other words, kids drag-and-drop blocks of code to easily make their apps. When they’re ready for actual text code, they would have already gone through the thinking processes and can easily transition to typing when they are fluent.
Code.org is also the source of the Hour of Code, which encourages schools around the world to take part in an hour of coding. Some of the exercises don’t even require a computer, so the idea is that everyone can participate.
This is another GUI-oriented tool for coding instruction which you can explore on your own. Developed at MIT, it is similar to Blockly in that by interlocking puzzle pieces, kids can see the logical flow of things easily. Scratch has an awesome community behind it, posting their work for everyone to see and learn from.
These few sites are geared more toward the typing-fluent crowd, as they deal with text rather than graphics.
For those who are really serious, the next two sites offer free trials and then go into priced lessons. According to testimonials, it’s worth it.
Lastly, for those who would like more tangibles, there’s Bitsbox. Bitsboxes are little kits that are sent to your child every month, packed full of projects to encode into the Bitsbox site.
Your kids will love “getting gifts” each month that will keep them working on programming. Bitsbox offers a unique experience that’s much better than just sitting in front of the computer.
As many consumers as there are, computer programming is vitally important to drive the creation of relevant and meaningful software for the public. By teaching kids early how to code, we offer them opportunities to practice higher-order thinking skills and collaboration.