Knowing how to code is a new form of literacy that will be indispensable in the near future. Even if your children don’t embrace a career in computer science, learning to code will allow them to acquire problem-solving skills and strengthen their critical thinking.
The following are four free, engaging and fun resources your children can use under your supervision in order to learn to code and create their own programs.
Scratch, a Good First Step to Learn How to Code
Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this programming language and website will teach your children the elemental principles of programming. Using it is as simple as dragging and dropping puzzle pieces that you can assemble as a series of orders for a cartoon character to perform. It sounds simple and funny, but that’s the basic logic behind programming languages.
Also developed by the MIT, App Inventor is a little more complex that Scratch. It will help your children create their own apps for smartphones. App Inventor offers the same drag-and-drop functionalities that make Scratch so easy to use. With 8.2 million registered users, App Inventor is also a thriving community that includes a blog, forums and social media presence.
Google’s CS First
Internet giant Google offers CS First, where CS stands for Computer Science. Through videos and one-hour activities, children learn how to code on Scratch and get to apply their knowledge. Most interestingly, this approach encourages children to use computer science to solve problems in all fields, including but not limited to STEM disciplines. As a result, there are activities dedicated to art, storytelling and game design.
HTML (Kahn Academy) and Python (Codecademy)
Once your children have mastered Scratch and App Inventor projects, they can move on to more challenging programming languages. Kahn Academy has a user-friendly HTML course complete with video tutorials that explain the basics of this programming language used to create websites. The requirements are minimal, since HTML is based on text files and no math is involved.
Python is more complex than HTML and requires basic to intermediate math as well as some basic computer knowledge. Codecademy offers an interactive Python course so your children can learn this programming language currently used by many important companies all around the world.