Coding for Kids

This year I’ve been spending quite a bit of time teaching my nieces and nephews about programming, as well as facilitating a Girls Who Code chapter. These are some of the resources I like for teaching kids how to code:

  • Tynker

    Tynker lets you switch between block-based visual programming and JavaScript. It’s pretty well designed, I didn’t encounter any bugs, and I had no problem keeping kids from ages 4 to 11 engaged with it. That said, they only give free access to limited areas of their site so you may want to check out their pricing and see if it’s something you’re comfortable with before setting children up with it.

  • has abundant resources for kids to learn how to code, and even labels some of their courses with helpful age ranges. The sections I’ve gone through let you switch between visual blocks of JavaScript code (with drop-down menus to select the values for each argument) and regular JavaScript code. They also allow you to create a classroom, and provide three different ways that your students can log in depending on age range; this is really great because U.S. law doesn’t allow children under 13 to have email accounts, so it’s sometimes difficult to set children up with accounts on certain websites where they can work unassisted and at their own pace. I’m also really loving their App Lab because, although it could be a little more user-friendly in the Design section and doesn’t seem to support ES6 syntax at this time, it has great tutorials and some other really nice extras such as basic database features.

  • Made with Code

    Made with Code is a pretty cool website with small exercises and projects that use Google’s Blockly and are designed to encourage girls to code. It’s definitely pretty limited content-wise and I found some of the projects to be borderline painfully gender-stereotyped, but it’s free, reasonably well implemented, and does a good job of providing exercises that teach kids to start thinking algorithmically.

Some other popular resources are websites like Codesters (free, pretty good, but a bit buggy and still only uses Python 2) and Khan Academy (free, OK, but their Classroom resources are pretty poorly implemented and I’ve found bugs and inaccuracies in several of their tutorials).

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