Five Ways to Teach Kids Computer Programming

You may or may not have considered helping your kids learn computer programming, but learning to program helps kids with learning beyond the computer Learning programming skills helps kids with problem solving skills, logical reasoning and promotes creativity.

Thankfully, there are a plethora of ways to teach programming – teaching kids programming skills before they are fluent readers, helping kids write their own video games and even teaching programming skills without a computer handy. 

Here are five ways you can teach computer programming, our favorites:  

  • Hello Ruby – I first learned about Hello Ruby from a Ted Talk  with Hello Ruby creator Linda Liukas.  I immediately put the book on hold at the library.  Hello Ruby is a whimsical story of a girl learning problem solving and programming skills.  I loved that the main character was a girl and how this helped draw my daughter’s interest, even though she didn’t think programming sounded very interesting at first.  The book includes non-computer games and activities to teach programming skills.
  • code.org – This has been our favorite lately.  We love that it’s free! We also love that kids can take different courses at different levels. The lessons teach and break down programming concepts into bite size chunks that are manageable, then give the kids an opportunity to practice.  Code.org encompasses a wide age range of learning, from pre-readers to high school.  Currently our kids are learning variables using block coding, debugging, looping and JavaScript.  
  • littlebits.cc – Our oldest who is 11, received a littleBits kit for Christmas. It’s definitely geared towards kids who are older depending on the kit purchased.  What I love is that it combines circuits and programming. He can create something with his circuit kit and program it into the computer.
  • Osmo Coding – If you have an iPad and haven’t been introduced to Osmo, this mama highly recommends checking it out.  Osmo Coding is a newer kit that even our 6 year-old enjoys.  I love that it starts with simple coding concepts and then expands as you move farther into the game. Kids don’t feel like they are learning — just playing a game and exploring.  
  • Computer Programming Games Unplugged –  An excellent list of games to learn programming skills, all without a computer in front of you.  The If…Then Game (#12) is a favorite of ours and always leads to lots of giggles.

There are so many more excellent apps and learning opportunities out there. I’ve barely scratched the surface! What are your favorites?

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