Hour of Code – 5 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Program
Programming for Kids – Hour of Code
From the Hour of Code website:
The Hour of Code is a one hour event meant to encourage people to learn about computer science and coding. Code.org organizes this event, and I wanted to let you know about the Minecraft tutorial they have prepared for this:
The Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial walks you through the steps a little bit at a time, and gives you limited blocks so it isn’t overwhelming for newbies.
After completing this tutorial, your students should be ready to attack Scratch head on.
Why should kids learn to code? I’ll be the first to admit that programming is not for everyone. If you have kids that easily get frustrated or cannot handle a lot of screen time, it might be best avoided as a regular activity. Even these kids may benefit from coding on occasion though, and below you will find some reasons why.
5 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Program
1. Coding is a great way to build critical thinking skills. Developing and working through code helps kids use logic to think. You have probably used First-Then-Next-Last lessons and activities before. Coding is no different, it’s just another extension of that idea. Sequencing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but programming can help reinforce this important skill.
2. Coding instills perseverance. If you have ever written code before, you know it doesn’t ever work right the first time. It can be extremely frustrating. Why is that important? It makes victory that much sweeter! Programming is no joke. It takes dedication, discipline, and planning. Who wouldn’t want to improve those life skills?
3. It can make life easier. It makes my life easier if I write or implement a simple spreadsheet macro when necessary. Think about all the times you repeat the same steps when working on a document. What if you had a way to automate that? Would that make your life easier? I remember writing a very simple program on my TI-85 calculator to help me with calculations in my freshman year statics class in college. What a lifesaver that simple piece of code was for me!
4. It is fun and may even come in handy at some point. Maybe they won’t become a software engineer, but having this skill at their disposal could come in handy, either in their professional life or their social one. If you’ve never looked at a block of code before, it can be overwhelming and just look like a bunch of gibberish. Getting familiar with what programming looks like and how it works is just plain interesting! You never know when you might need the skill. It could even be a way for a family to get into project based learning, with each family member tackling a different aspect of a coding project.
5. There are so many options out there, you can find one that meshes with your style. I constantly tell my kids how lucky they are to have Scratch at their disposal. It’s so much more immediately gratifying than my first intro to coding! There really isn’t a good reason to NOT to learn how to code.
That being said, here are some more ideas to get you started!
Another of my kids’ favorite resources to create video games is GameMaker. You can download and use the older version 8.1 (lite) for free. It’s slightly more complicated to start using than Scratch, but offers a different approach. Here is my son programming a game with GameMaker a year or so ago:
Can you guess what his obsession was at the time?
Make sure you visit the Hour of Code website and head to the FAQ section to access extras like printable certificates and other tips! If you can set aside an hour of code, I highly encourage it. It’s a great team activity and can be very rewarding. Kids can learn to code, and if you are new to it, you can learn right along with them.
More Coding for Kids
Here are a few more resources if you are looking for other coding options:
Made with Code by Google
Looking for even more options? Head on over to Khan Academy, where you can earn badges in coding (keyboard or drag and drop blocks), webpage design (HTML/CSS), or database manipulation (SQL):
*Kid graphic in header image courtesy of Educlips Design.