It’s no surprise that technology and smart devices are becoming an integral part of our lives and students’ lives futures, Alexa, anyone?
It is also no surprise of the benefits and life skills students gain when learning to code, such as confidence, communication, digital literacy, and persistence. Coding isn’t just about understanding computers, it’s a playful yet powerful way to enhance problem solving skills and encourage trial and error through organization and analytical thinking.
The number of students interested in computer science and learning to code is rapidly growing in the United States, and at an earlier age. In fact, some experts believe the optimal age for children to begin learning to code is around the age of six – seven.
If you already have coding experience under your belt, the 2024 K12 Robotics League is the perfect opportunity to showcase programming and coding skills. Registered students will virtually code devices using Cogmation software and are eligible to compete in K12 robotic competitions. If you’re a parent on the fence about where to start with coding courses for your student, keep reading discover 5 free resources to kickstart your child’s coding journey.
Scratch Jr. is a visual block-based programming language developed by students at MIT. It is an exceptional tool for understanding coding geared for children as young as four years old. Scratch Jr. fosters creativity and logical thinking through visual learning and is an excellent resource for children learning to read.
Scratch Jr. and Scratch are free apps available iOS, Android, and Chromebook.
Code.org offers an extensive collection of free coding resources for children aged four years and up, plus resources for teachers and parents. Code.org is notably known for hosting the “Hour of Code”, a global movement encouraging computer science through a 1-hour introductory course covering the basics of coding. Code.org also offers free coding courses starting with “pre-readers” up to high-school students, has an interactive online platform, an app lab, events, and workshops.
Codable Crafts is a fun app for beginner coders. It combines crafting elements like coloring, stickers, cut-out shapes, and templates to make animations and tell stories using visual block-based coding. Codable crafts is a simple, yet innovative, way to create animated stories while introducing young kids to programming.
Blockly Games offers engaging and educational games that introduces programming through visual block-based coding. Users learn coding through a drag and drop interface while being introduced to foundational coding elements like loops and conditionals. Blockly Games is a free, browser-based platform making it is widely accessible for young learners.
Stencyl is another block-based program that allows children to create games that can be effortlessly published to different platforms like iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows, HTML5, Linux, and Flash. Users learn about logic sequences through a block-snapping system instead of traditional coding. However, users can still practice coding skills by typing code.
Stencyl is free to publish to the Web, but costs up to $199 if you wish to publish your game to iOS, Android, Web, and desktop.
Everyone Can Code
Children as young as four can begin engaging with platforms, like the ones mentioned in our blog, to jump on the learning path of fundamental programming concepts through interactive games designed for young minds. From crafting animated stories to designing multi-platform games, the journey to coding and robotics has never been easier or more fun!
Students in grades fourth through twelfth are encouraged to register for the 2024 K12 Robotics League, consisting of three virtual robotics tournaments and a final in-person round in June 2024. Students may enter with teammates or register as solo entry to be paired with a virtual Robo-Buddy. For more information, please visit the K12 Enrichment webpage. Happy coding, everyone!