Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Programming Resources for Elementary School (and Pre-K)

Today I've been looking at resources to teach elementary school students to code.  There are so many amazing options! The general idea is that kids drag and drop predefined blocks of code, usually to make an onscreen character do something, like jump or turn left.  This blog post by Vicki Davis on Edutopia, which was updated in 2015, has a pretty comprehensive list.  I don't yet have any strong opinions on which ones are best, so try out some of the free ones that fit with your kid's age and platform of choice.

A few ones that I want to highlight:

  • Code Studio's free online computer science fundamentals series is a full introductory curriculum for ages 4+.  It could be used at home or in a classroom.  It mostly consists of individually paced in browser videos and activities, but there are a few lesson plans for "unplugged lessons" along the way.
  • Scratch is the most well known introductory programming language for kids.  It allows them to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations, and share their creations with the online community. Scratch is free, works in a computer browser, and is aimed at ages 8 and up. Hopscotch is similar to Scratch, but made for iPad (and iPhone). For the slightly younger crowd, there's ScratchJr, an iPad and Android tablet app aimed at ages 5 - 7.  
  • There are a lot of board games that teach programming basics without any technology.  For ages 4+, there's Robot Turtles (Amazon affiliate link here) and Littlecodr (Amazon affiliate link here), and for ages 8/9+, there's Code Monkey Island (Amazon affiliate link here) and Code Master (Amazon affiliate link here).


1 comment:

  1. Two others that I would highlight:

    We have been using Pencilcode for fifth and sixth grade kids and our kids at home (3-9 years old). One nice feature is the emphasis on turtle geometry, followng Papert's Logo. Two other nice features: users can toggle between a block-based drag-and-drop environment and a simple text editor for the code and programs can be run on any device through an internet browser. Oh, it is free, so that's good, too.

    Girls Who Code has some nice material to help guide teachers.

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