Learning the fundamentals of coding provides students with skills that will serve them well in virtually any career they choose. Through coding, students build essential literacy skills, gain an understanding of logic and sequence, and learn the mechanics of iteration. From our own experience teaching in the classroom, introducing your students to coding early on is highly beneficial because they want to learn how to code. They want to learn how to make devices and computers do useful things. They want to learn how to build websites. It’s a very cool thing to them.
There are some great iPad apps available to help get students started with coding at the lower elementary level. Here are just a few examples but there are many others out there as well. Try them out and see which works best for your students.
This app is similar to the online programming tool, Scratch, but is geared towards a much younger age group. Kids choose characters and backgrounds and then drag and drop pieces of a programming script that look like interlocking pieces. Each piece causes the character to perform certain actions such as jumping, moving forward and backward, disappearing and reappearing. Along the way, kids can customize colors, create sounds, and revise their programs. This app requires some adult help as the instructions are a little difficult but ScratchJr’s endless possibilities and immediate cause-and-effect action will keep kids engaged for hours.
This app is also based on another app, Lightbot, but is a simplified version. Students drag and drop basic commands such as move, hop, light, and turn into strings of instructions. There are multiple levels of increasing difficulty as kids string together a program that guides Lightbot through the level, lighting up tiles along the way. This is a puzzle game with that also involves coding and offers a fun way to let future developers preview what programming is like.
This app makes programming accessible to younger students. It’s fun and cute, with a blue sky, yellow sun, green dinosaur, and yellow star, and it makes programming easy. The game offers nine commands for kids to drag and drop into their program to make Daisy move. There is a challenge mode as well as a free play mode that is available after students complete the instructional challenge mode. Older students might get a little bored but this app is designed to help introduce the younger students to programming using simple commands in everyday language.
Others to explore:
If you want to learn about these apps and other types of instructional technology for your classroom, try signing up for a trial of Online Professional Development at http://onlinepd.teq.com/.
Here is a great course to check out:
Intro to Programming Education – http://onlinepd.teq.com/events/view/13404