( Originally posted in Cloud 961 Magazine in January 2015)
Updated: 23 April 2018
Nowadays literacy has taken a whole new definition. In our technological digital age, it’s no longer sufficient to school our children with the 3 rs: reading, writing and arithmatic. Somewhere along the line a 4th r should be added: rithms, as in algorithms. Deemed as the 4th literacy, algorithms, or computational thinking teaches people how to think abstractly and break a problem apart into smaller pieces. It involves problem solving, decomposition, algorithmic thinking, debugging and modeling.
Software the new Language
Whether we like it or not, software’s the new language ruling our world from our daily communications to our daily transactions. It’s constantly challenging our lives, and threatening to put some of us out of work. And you’re still asking yourself why your kids should learn how to code
How to Introduce Kids to It
As parents and teachers we could start introducing children to coding and programming through many resources like:
- Move the Turtle (iphone & ipad) for ages 5+ aims at teaching coding.
- Daisy the Dinosaur ( ipad) for ages 5 to 7; introduces basic computer programming ; the child learns looping and conditional programming without knowing by simply making a cute green dinosaur move at a command. Teachers and parents can also create programming challenges for their children. The game helps builds analytical and problem skills at a young age.
- LightBot ( ipad and android ) 2 versions: one for ages 4-8, another for ages 9+
It offers an easy way to teach kids concepts like loops, and if then statements without coding.
- GamestarMechanic: (Web: costs 2 $) for ages 7-14
It teaches critical thinking and problem solving skills by letting them design their own video games.
- Cargobot ( ipad) for ages 6-13
A fun challenging game whose goal is to program a robot to complete increasingly complex sequences of tasks; helps teach them logical thinking.
- Tynker: (web or ipad, offers a standard and premium edition);no specific age
Aims to teach kids programming at their own pace, is primarily based on a collection of puzzles which are solved by putting commands in sequence using a drag and drop interface.
By solving these puzzles, children learn to recognize patterns, break down problems, and engage in sequencing problems, loops and conditional logic.Though no age is specified, it’s recommended to start at grade 4 where children have the ability to read and write. Note its standard edition is free while its premium’s price is based on the number of seats purchased by a classroom.
- Scratch: ( web) for ages 8-16)
When playing kids use a visual programming language made of bricks to animate sprites; different types of bricks create loops variables, play sounds, etc…
- Codecombat: (Web) for ages 15 +, adults too)
There are lots of other resources like KidsRuby, Kodu, Alice (an introduction to creating animated movies), Lego Mindstorms, Terrapin Logo, as well as books like Hello Ruby ( for kids), Hello World!: Computer programming for kids and other beginners (for all ages) and Super Scratch Programming adventure! Learn to program by making cool games. There are even online educational nonprofits like code.org, whose mission is to allow every student in every school the opportunity to have a high quality computer science education both in and out of the classroom.
Patrovi, its founder explains that it instructs students and teachers alike on the basics of coding using games; moreover, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have also struck a deal with it to offer actual tutorials to students during its beginning program, “Hour of Code”. Meanwhile if you are an adult who wants to learn coding and other web skills, tune in to our next article where we compare platforms like: Code school (www.codeschool.com), Codecademy ( www.codecademy.com) , and Treehouse ( www.teamtreehouse.com).
Also published on Medium.