The goal of our classes is to allow children to learn life skills such as problem solving and self-learning while gaining an understanding of the concepts underlying computer coding. This approach fosters creativity and independent thinking, while simultaneously showing children that they can use technology for more than just social media and browsing.
Our approach starts without computers or screens. Learn more below!
Teaching basic coding concepts without screens
The first lessons introduce your child to the concept of a sequence through fun, interactive games, to lay the foundation for logical challenges.
By using cards with simple actions such as "Jump" , "Smile" , "Right hand up" or "Left leg down", your child will lay out sequences of such actions. Like in coding, these sequences will then be played out, in this case by the children themselves to keep things simple.
Apart from helping them understand the concept of a sequence, this will also teach your child to look for issues (i.e. debugging in coding).
An example would be "Right leg up" and later on in the sequence "Left leg up". The robot would fall, representing problems in the code. Through group discussions, the kids will learn that it is important to logically identify issues before playing out a sequence.
Logical challenges, with and without robots
Once children have understood and applied the basic concepts of sequences and debugging, they are introduced to logical challenges based on those concepts.
We start with very simple challenges that gradually progress to more and more complex ones, where we begin using a child-friendly robot that is programmed with sequences to complete tasks.
These exercises will push your child's logical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as introduce them to new code concepts like planning in advance, code design and repeating a code function.
After a certain amount of practice, your child will be able to understand the different constraints of a challenge and find a solution to solve the problem – on their own!
Introducing computer coding:
Coding on Scratch with results in the physical world
Now that your child understands and can apply the basic coding concepts, it is time to introduce them to Scratch on a computer.
Scratch is a block-based, visual programming language developed by MIT University. It was developed for kids and is thus super simple and fun to use. Here's a video that shows how it works.
After some practice your child will be able to create stories, games and animations by themselves.
It is also possible to connect external sensors and devices such as Makey Makey, Arduino or micro:bit, to build applications that interact with the physical world.
The picture below shows a piano project, in which we connected piano keys (play-dough with external device) with a computer. The computer is programmed (with Scratch) to play a note when a piano key is pressed.
Coding in the real world:
Discovering real coding languages and start building
For the curious minds that have exhausted Scratch, the next step is to make the transition from block-based programming languages to source code like Java.
Another application that we use to help the children transition to actual coding is the MIT App Inventor. With this open-source tool, we can connect applications the kids have developed to smartphones and tablets – letting them learn early on to use digital media in a creative way, instead of only consuming it.
MIT App Inventor
Links to buy equipment we use/recommend for our activities:
As an Amazon Associate Kids Life Skills earn from qualifying purchases. Kids Life Skills get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
As a non-profit we will use all of the earnings generated from these commissions to promote the agenda of the association with a focus on supporting and subsidizing low income families in order to make our activities as inclusive as possible. Thank you for your support.