Our Favorite Resources for Getting Kids Hooked on Code

Guest Contributor /// BoiseCodeWorks

CodeWorks CTO Matt Overall teaching young members of the Boys & Girls Club

We at CodeWorks understand the value of teaching kids to learn code at an early age. The earlier kids learn the basics of how computers work, how software operates, and how to think about programmatic logic, the more prepared they’ll be to thrive in the growing digital economy.

While our typical students are adults, some of our best learners have been just out of high school. These young grads have, in a relatively short time, set themselves up for a rewarding career in tech.

We’ve also started working with the Idaho PTECH Network to teach coding skills to high schoolers from all over the state of Idaho.

We’ve even started teaching our young children how to work with code, including building digital games and other fun projects. As we’ve explored online tutorials and exercises for our own kids, we compiled some of the best (most effective AND most fun) resources, listed below. Enjoy!

  • Star Wars https://code.org/starwars. With drag-and-drop blocks for kids ages 6–10 and a JavaScript option for ages 11 and up, we’re guessing kids will quickly get hooked on this one.
  • MineCraft: https://studio.code.org/s/mc/stage/1/puzzle/1. Following a tutorial from one of the lead MineCraft developers, kids can use the Blockly interface to learn the fundamentals of how JavaScript works.
  • Scratch: https://scratch.mit.edu/. This resource has been around for a while now, so it has an impressive array of featured projects and other examples of use. It’s pretty amazing what can be done with Scratch, once you dive in.
  • Made With Code: https://www.madewithcode.com/projects/. This resource is geared more toward girls, but can be great for anyone. They have a few really cool projects for kids to work on, and their mission statement is pretty cool, too:
We started Made with Code because increasingly more aspects in our lives are powered by technology, yet women aren’t represented in the roles that make technology happen. If we can inspire girls to see that code can help them pursue their passions, whatever they may be, then hopefully they will begin to contribute their voices to the field of technology for the benefit of us all.
  • Flappy Bird Tutorial. https://studio.code.org/flappy/1. Another project from Code.org, this one will be engaging to the many kids (and adults) who have struggled with addiction to Flappy Bird in recent years.
  • CodeCombat. https://codecombat.com/. This one might be best for slightly older kids, but it is incredibly fun! You can learn JavaScript and/or Python, including (as stated on their site):

— while loops to solve pesky puzzles

— strings & variables to customize actions

— how to defeat an ogre (important life skills!)

  • Hopscotch. https://www.gethopscotch.com/. With Hopscotch, “you can make your own version of popular games like Geometry Dash, create awesome art or build something brand new. Try doing fashion design, a journey into outer space, or making a piano.” Somewhat similar to Scratch, there seem to be endless possibilities with this resource.

To sum up, there are some really incredible free resources online. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few parents end up having as much fun with these as their kids.

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