April 18, 2014

From Scratch to Tynker: Tools to Teach Kids How to Code | screencast tutorial


Screenshot from Hopscotch

Learning to code is a popular topic in educational circles these days. For good reason. When young people code their own apps, games, stories, or websites they have a chance to think critically, troubleshoot, problem solve, and collaborate. It’s a way to create something real that can be seen and used by lots of different people.

Of course, not all teachers or library staff are proficient coders. But, we don’t have to be. There are several apps and Web-based tools that make it possible to learn, with kids, the basics of coding. These also give young people the chance to try things out on their own and even teach adults how to create with code.

The below screencast provides an overview of Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch, two free iPad apps that take a similar building block approach to learning to code. Daisy is for the youngest coders, early elementary age, and Hopscotch is just right for upper elementary age kids.  With each app, children use code to move characters around the screen. Hopscotch offers more characters to move, a greater range of movements, and more options for customization.

Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch are far from the only two options available to help get kids and teens coding. Tynker and Scratch are two Web-based tools. As you’ll see in this screencast (below), Tynker is designed for those who want to develop coding projects and lessons for youth. What’s great about the platform is that you can have kids and teens develop their own coding projects and use Tynker to teach others how to accomplish various coding feats.

Scratch is already a popular learn-to-code software used in libraries and schools. In May MIT, the producer of Scratch, launched a Web-based version of the program. It’s just as good its software counterpart. Given the tools available online and the large educator and youth Scratch community already in place, it’s well worth checking out.


Linda W. Braun About Linda W. Braun

Linda W. Braun (lbraun@leonline.com) is the Youth Services Manager at Seattle Public Library, an educational technology consultant, a past president of YALSA, and adjunct faculty at Simmons College Graduate School of Library & Information Science.


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