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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Elementary Students Can CODE!


What does coding have to do with learning the core subjects?  I am often asked that by parents, administrators, and teachers.  Well, coding is critical thinking, problem solving, logic, perseverance, collaboration, sequencing, patterns, variables, loops, experimentation, analysis, grit, and more.  Aren't these skills we need our students to have to be successful in our core subjects?  There are so many great apps and web based sites available for students as young as 5 to start leaning the logic of code.  
Here are my favorite FREE resources.

1.  Code.org:  Students ages 4-18 can learn to code with fun activities created by the staff from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter.  Kids favorite characters such as Anna from Frozen and the Angry Birds are featured to make the coding activities fun and relevant.  Students can complete entire 20 hour leveled courses or do shorter activities.
2. The Foos App: Kids help the Foos characters through adventures and problems by coding.  There are 40 levels to solve and each Foos character has a unique story to keep the fun going.
3. Kodable App: The Fuzzes have crashed on a maze covered planet and need you to program them to explore all of the mazes.  
4. Hopscotch App:  Students simply drag the blocks of code to create their own games.  They can also add their own artwork and share games so that their friends can play them too.  Hopscotch is coding for a purpose.
5. Daisy the Dinosaur App:  This is a great app to start with when working with young kids.  Drag and drop blocks of code to make Daisy the Dinosaur do different things.  Can you make her dance? Jump? Roll? Hop?
6. Scratch Jr App: My students love this app.  The interface is based on the MIT designed Scratch program, but easier for younger kids.  However, it is a powerful tool for teaching kids to code while they create a story.  Students have many choices through the block coding that allows them to choose images, characters, movement, and scenes to tell a story.
7. Cargo-Bot App:  You must teach the robot (program it) how to move the crates.  It is not as simple as it sounds!
8. Tynker App or Tynker Online: Tynker is a drag and drop block programming system that will help students to learn coding in virtual worlds.  Students can use the built in characters and graphics to create their own games.  In addition this app can be used to program drones, robots such as sphero, and Phillips lights.
9. Stencyl: Do you have advanced students that have mastered the basics of drag and drop coding apps and are ready for the next level?  Stencyl uses the same drag and drop format but provides an open system where students can build their own games and publish them to the web (flash), to Android (Google Play Store), or to IOS (Apple Store).  There is even an educator's version if you are interested in offering game design as a club.

Let's get those elementary students starting to code!

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