When it comes to digital learning and practice resources, the STEM Village Content Team likes to stay “in the know” of all the resources out in the digital universe so we can provide the best learning experience for your kids or students. This is our newest list of “Top Picks” we love to use on our education platform – and it’s all about computer science and learning to code!
These resources will introduce your child or student to the world of code and computer science. There are so many resources that we love to use on STEM Village, but we narrowed it down to our favorite 10! The first half of this list is for beginners (yes parents and teachers too) who just want to get the hang of how code works. The second half of this list is where your child can start learning a particular skill with guidance and practice resources. Each of these resources will also allow your lifelong learners to create a fully functional project in the end so they can share what they created with family and friends. Let’s get coding!
- Hopscotch is a great place for anyone to start. It’s very simple to use and helps get kids (and even grown-ups) into the right mindset before they start diving into coding languages. Hopscotch is a fun app made for kids as young as 5. Kids select different buttons in order to make something move or appear with a certain characteristic (like colour). If you’re trying to teach your lifelong learners about basic functions in programming or you want to introduce the concept to someone who has never heard of it – this is the game for you!
- Made with Code is another great place for anyone to start learning about the basics of code. This web-app is geared toward girls, however the projects available can also engage boys too. What we love about this particular site is that it’s simple to use; each project takes a few minutes; and it begins to show how code works. Your child will have to select a particular block of code that builds off of the previous block. For example, your child may want to create a SnapChat filter. First, your child will be instructed to choose a colour. next, they will have to choose a set of accessories to go over an image. Once your child drags and drops those 2 “blocks of code” together, they will have a useable SnapChat filter with accessories they chose in the color they wanted. It’s that simple!
- Sploder is a simple game creator. This is a flash resource so it won’t work on every device but it is very fun and especially geared toward the young gamer. Your child can choose a different style game in the menu (like old school arcade games or puzzle games) and then use function buttons (left, right, jump, etc.) and design blocks of code to jazz it up and make it their own creation. The best thing about this platform is that your child will be able to share the game with family or friends and play it over and over again.
- Flow Lab is another free game creation site, however I recommend starting with Sploder first, and then using Flow Lab. Flow Lab has a tutorial that introduces the basics of game design and the interface will make your child feel like a real game creator. Kids will also be able to share and play their own games – and it’s also free!
- Vidcode is very similar to Made with Code, however there are more projects to choose from once you start to get the hang of code. They also have some awesome challenges to participate in to win prizes and even free upgrades and access to more code projects. You can make your own SnapChat filter; create your own meme; and even explore climate change with code! Another factor that differentiates this app is the simple code builder that shows your child the code you would use to create the project as a real-life developer. These other sites don’t necessarily show you that – until now!
- Codecombat is another coding game that allows your child to see real code languages in action. CodeCombat is the first game on this list that will teach your child a true language as they progress through the game. First, your child will learn the basics (like programming vocabulary, syntax, and loops) and continue to learn how to develop levels to their own game, and use languages like HTML and CSS to design their own websites.
- Code.org is a great place for your child to start diving into code and exploring the various languages (like HTML, C++ or CSS). I suggest starting with an “Hour of Code” project that was created by Code.org and sponsored by hundreds of amazing partners like Google and Amazon.
- Google CS First Clubs is an amazing resource, however it sits lower on the list because it isn’t quite a game. Google CS First Clubs are full-blown lessons where your child can learn the basics of Computer Science and various coding languages all in one place. Your child can even choose from engaging themes like animation, fashion, art and design, sports, and social media. You can even start your very own Google CS Club in your community by following links on the landing page.
- Scratch is another project-based resource where kids can create almost anything. Scratch allows your kids (and yes, you too) to create an animated story, video, or game by filling out and moving around “blocks of code” that instruct the program to do various actions. I suggest hitting “Try it Out” on the homepage before jumping into your very own project – the tutorial will help you get the hang of it!
- Tynker is a great platform for all ages and skill levels. The app is not for your kids to jump into on their own, as it will take guidance from either a parent or teacher. Students will be able to take a course that you assign them which uses videos, tutorials, and games to teach your child a new computer science skill one step at a time. Your first course is free and we have even used this great introductory tool in an introductory course on STEM Village.
If you want to get your kids or students engaged with STEM education in a fun and effective way, please visit STEM Village to learn more and start a free trial today.
This article was written by Erin Carmody, an experienced educator, consultant, and Content Manager at STEM Village.