“I’m bored!!!“. If you have heard that being screamed out fifteen times in the last hour, chances are you have a child home from school for the holidays. There is a limit to how many times one can visit the pool and it is too hot to stay in the sun all day long. How to get the kids out of this funk (and save your sanity)? Chase the summer blues away by introducing the children to a variety of exciting coding games.
Our Future Depends On It
This rapidly changing world requires newer skill sets beyond reading, writing and typing. Coding is already a part of your child’s life. Almost every app or system we use is built by code. In 2014, U.K. government added coding to the elementary school curriculum to promote coding culture. This focus on STEM education is a global phenomenon; Canada has announced $38 billion commitment to train it’s youngsters to be future innovators and entrepreneurs.
Digital literacy is crucial for every child as it improve their critical thinking skills such as when it teaches them how to break down challenging situations into smaller, easily solvable problems. This kind of thought process is called computational thinking which not only helps software engineers but other professionals like mechanics, musicians, biologists and the like.
Learn a New Language: Coding
Swap out the French or Spanish classes and instead sign your children up for coding classes. Coding (or programming as the traditionalists like to call it) is a proper language in it’s own right. As programming pioneer George Carrette says “First learn computer science and all the theory. Next develop a programming style. Then forget all that and just hack.”
Online Coding Game Resources
Not familiar with coding? Worry not, there is a cat for that job! Actually, Scratchy the Cat is a sprite in MIT’s Scratch program that teaches children the basics of programming. While the folks at MIT have worked long and hard to make coding fun and accessible, there are many other options for the curious programmer-to-be.
There are many organizations in the UK which have made sure that the coding experience is available for everyone while being fun, free, and accessible.
Here are a few to get your kids and yourself started:
HOUR OF CODE by Code.org
Suitable For Ages: For All Ages Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars App/Program: Both
Code.org is a non-profit organisation focused on expanding access to computer science education to minorities and women. Their annual Hour of Code event has attracted around 10% students from around the world. Websites like Code.org encourage coding for all ages by sponsoring an Hour of Code in which participants access free coding tutorials.
On Code.org you can filter the type of games you want your kid to play by specifying the grade he or she is in, student experience, classroom technology, and topics. The Hour of Code is a visual programming environment which is typing-free. Instead it utilises drag-and-drop instruction blocks, which makes the coding experience even more engaging and amusing.
The site features characters from popular cartoons, movies and t.v. series like Moana, Star Wars, Frozen, Hot Wheels and Monster High.
Computer Science First by Google
Google’s Computer Science First is a free program through which students have access to computer science education through clubs which are run by local teachers and community volunteers.
Games like “ Gumball’s Coding Adventure” were made by Google CS first in collaboration with Scratch and Cartoon Network. The aim is to teach kids to program a game in an interactive way with their favorite cartoon characters. This makes it look like less learning and more like playing!
Suitable for Ages: 10 yrs & older Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars App/Program: Program, Available online & offline
Scratch does not require users to download the software. Just go on to their website,make an account for free, click on “create”, and start the magic! Word of Caution: Scratch’s website might appear a bit complicated for kids under 10 to navigate. I recommend you read through the instructions on the website with your children and run through a demo game to increase familiarity.
Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and the website allows visitors to create animation, games and interactive stories for free.
Coding is a 21st century skill that is essential for both children and adults in this digital age. Computer science in all forms surrounds us – from smartphones to smart-watches- that are constantly improving the quality of our lives. Introduction to coding brings a previously-thought obscure science into applicable form. It is no longer just in the domain of the geeks and the nerds, computer science is for everyone!
I think if you want to introduce coding to your child start them off with the the “Code with Anna and Elsa” game on Code.org . You will be amazed how much information kids retain when they are having fun.