How to Teach Kids Coding: 6 Fun Ways to Explore Coding and Programming for Kids
When my son came home from school a few months ago asking if he could use a coding website that he started using in class, I admit I was super excited. Coding isn’t something I necessarily thought he’d be interested in, but was always hoping he would be. Apparently, all it took for him to want to do it was a fun website introduced to him by a teacher. Since then, I’ve researched how to teach kids coding without it feeling like teaching. For my kiddo, that’s the key. Over the next several months, we’ve explored everything from coding websites for kids to subscription boxes and books with coding activities to help fuel his excitement.
Why Teach Kids Coding?
There’s no denying that computers and mobile devices are here to stay. They’ve created the need for a whole new ‘language’ understood by both humans and machines. Programming and coding make up that language. Understanding these components can be a great way to get a leg up on ever-growing and evolving technology.
Even more importantly, perhaps, is the more subtle skills that coding teaches. Because coding involves a lot of moving parts to make things work on the screen, kids can learn problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They can also use reasoning skills to predict what they think will happen when they change code and test their hypothesis. Coding is also an excellent pathway for creativity.
Additionally, if your child is considering a career in STEM, like software development or information security, coding is a must. Learning it now with a kids coding program or fun kids coding games can only help them get a head start and continue building upon their skills as they get older.
How to Teach Kids Coding: 6 Fun Ways to Explore Coding for Kids
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Whether your child has already shown an interest in learning how to code or you’d like to introduce coding to them in a fun way, there are plenty of ways to teach kids coding at any age. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Sign up for an online class
Screenshot via Miss Jennifer‘s Code and Create Roblox Games: Level 1 (Ages 9-14) class on Outschool
If you haven’t checked out Outschool yet, run, don’t walk there. Outschool easily has hundreds of kids coding classes that take the guesswork out of learning how to teach kids coding. That’s because educators do the hard work for you, teaching kids coding languages and projects in fun learning environments. For example, this Code and Create Roblox Games class by Miss Jennifer is perfect for Roblox enthusiasts who want to learn the basics of creating their very own games on the platform. There’s also a weekly Minecraft coding class for beginners and a Video Game Coding Club. If your child is introduced to coding in a way that they think is fun and relevant to them, they’re probably more likely to stick with it.
Best of all, Outschool makes things affordable for families. Its teachers offer some of the best coding for kids classes for as little as $11 per class, which is perfect for giving it a try to see how your child likes it without wasting a bunch of money.
2. Get a coding activity subscription or kit
I’ve tried a few subscription boxes for my kids, and I always come back to KiwiCo boxes. For future coders, the Tinker Crate is amazing. It includes hands-on projects for ages 9-14 with stuff they can build all on their own or with a little adult help. My son has built a solar system, a walking robot, and a foosball game from these boxes.
The occasional kids coding project exists in the Tinker Crate, too, but if you want something that specifically teaches coding for kids, keep an eye on the KiwiCo Store, where you can buy solo kits to get the exact projects you want. I love this Robots and Coding set for ages 5-8 that teaches kids to make changes to their robot’s movements by customizing a “coding” path for it to move along.
Recently, I also came across Bitsbox. I’m an avid Shark Tank watcher, and I saw an episode featuring Bitsbox, a subscription box with several themed coding projects delivered each month. You can choose to get the kit in the mail or a digital version that you can download or print yourself. Using Bitsbox, my son learned to create multiple apps of his own that he can actually use on his iPad. So cool! The digital version costs less than $17 a month, so it’s a super affordable way to introduce coding.
3. Try an easy-to-follow book
Some kids aren’t as hands-on as others when it comes to learning to code. Instead, they might prefer to digest information with a book, followed by practicing what they’ve learned on their computer. For these learners, try Python for Kids, 2nd Edition, a book designed to bring programming with Python to life for kids.
Written by Jason R. Briggs and available in print and eBook forms from No Starch Press, this book uses fun mentions of Twinkies, ninjas, monsters, animals, and other things kids love and relate to to help them master Python. I especially love the easy-to-follow introductions to each chapter. Briggs breaks down terminology into simple terms and offers explanations for what your child will be doing in that chapter to help them apply their skills to real-life situations. Here’s an example:
Below is a look at some practice coding from the book. Your child will learn the exact steps they need to take to code in Python, including changing variables and adding functions to get different results. I bought my son this desktop book holder to keep the book right on his desk as he works on his computer for easy reference.
Think your child will love learning how to code with this book? Use code AMYB25 for 25% off your purchase of Python for Kids, 2nd Edition on nostarch.com, now through December 31st, 2022! Leave a comment down below if you bought it, and let me know what you think!
4. Follow an Hour of Code class
Hour of Code is a learning platform for kids of all ages to learn to code. Its free kids coding classes teach youngsters how to code simple games, projects, password generators, software, and more. You can also ask your child’s school and community organizations to get involved in learning how to teach kids coding. Hour of Code lets organizations host their own events on the platform to help kids participate in fun educational activities as they boost their programming skills.
5. Use coding apps or coding websites for kids
Photo by Robo Wunderkind on Unsplash
Meaningful screentime is absolutely a thing in our home, and coding websites and apps fall in that category. One of my favorite educational apps my son uses is Osmo, which has several hands-on activities that sync with the app. The Coding Family Bundle is perfect if you’re wondering how to teach kids coding in a fun way. Osmo guides your child along as they connect coding blocks to make different things happen on their screens.
My son also loves Scratch, which he uses in school in his math and STEM classes. In my opinion, it’s one of the best free kids coding websites, allowing them to create their own projects and games with easy-to-use tools.
If you’re looking for a kids coding app for an iPad or tablet, try CodeSpark Academy or Hopscotch.
6. Look for workshops in your area
Depending on where you live, you might be able to find kids coding classes or workshops in your area or nearby. For instance, some community centers, schools, or technology centers might host free or low-cost programs for local children and their families. A good place to start is a quick Google search. Google coding for kids near me or kids coding classes near me to see what comes up.
Not finding anything? Consider volunteering at a nearby Code Club or starting a club of your own! Code Club offers workshops, activities, and projects for kids to learn coding in their communities. The Scratch coding for kids website even has an ideas section to help learners get started.
Coding for Kids: How to Get Your Child Started
Your child doesn’t have to be a coding enthusiast already to get excited about the idea of learning the basics of programming through coding. In my son’s case, it was a gradual buildup, starting with his love for math and working his way up to a deeper interest in computers and STEM. I credit fun learning tools like the kids coding activities, apps, books, and websites I listed above with allowing him to dive into coding while still having fun. Hopefully, at least one idea on this list will spark your child’s interest, too!
Don’t forget to use code AMYB25 for 25% off your purchase of Python for Kids, 2nd Edition on nostarch.com, now through December 31st, 2022!
What coding resources have you used with your child? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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