#StayHome🏠 shouldn't be boring. Children can learn how to make their own games!

These are challenging times and it's not easy to keep children engaged. Turn this into an opportunity to introduce your dear creative ninjas to programming. My guess is they'll love it!

Every child has his/her own personality. But they all have one thing in common: they love being creative! As we’re all being asked to stay at home and to limit physical contact, many activities are no longer possible. This frustrates me, and I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for children.

The easiest distractions are computer games and television, however needless to say they shouldn’t consume those all day long. It’s better to get their minds active and learning. Easier said than done, I know. But there might be a compromise to be found in showing them how to make their own digital creations such as games, animations, …

I’m convinced of the potential of children as I’ve seen hundreds of creations as a coach at CoderDojo Bruges. We don’t teach, but let children free to explore the possibilities of computers. All we do is hint them to the possibilities. There are great tools available that lowered the barrier so much that I can get newbies going in 5 minutes. And there are tons of resources to keep them inspired.

You can get children learning and creating by themselves. At home. Acquiring future-proof skills. It’s worth giving a shot, right?

Scratch (7+ years old)

Scratch

When I introduce children to programming, I always start off with Scratch, which can be used online or installed offline. It’s a very visual and intuitive tool, but it is also very powerful.

By stacking puzzle blocks, children learn how to instruct the computer to behave as they wish. By doing so they grow their confidence and build their algorithmic thinking. Essential skills for their future, even for those who won’t pursue computer science.

Children can make their account, create projects, save and share them.

There are lots of resources to get going, but I really recommend these:

Scratch Ideas
Raspberry Pi Projects

Scratch Jr. for the younger ones (5-7 years old)

Scratch Jr.


For the younger ones, between 5 and 7 years old, there’s a tablet app Scratch Jr.. The interface is simpler so that children who didn’t learn to read yet can make sense of it.

Code.org (7+ years old)

Code.org

Another platform is Code.org.

This website offers learning paths so that children can learn step by step. Next to visual programming, there are also off-line activities, introduction to web technologies, introduction to programming languages, etc.

All content is available in the web browser, so there’s no need to install anything.

Khan Academy (Written code)

Khan Academy

The last one I’ll cover in this article is Khan Academy.

This enormously popular platform covers Computer Science next to many other subjects from Science up to Humanities!

The learning curve is somewhat steeper here. There is no visual programming with blocks, so this is for children who are a bit older and disciplined. When you feel Scratch is becoming too easy, it might be a good moment to guide the children towards this platform.

Don’t stop here.

Scratch, Scratch Jr., Code.org and Khan Academy are wonderful tools to get children going. And as a bonus, all of them are free. But there are so many more tools and resources available, feel free to Google and explore.

Once children become more comfortable and confident, they can even get hands-on with programming languages, web technologies, electronics, …

In the coming evenings I’ll create and share more blog posts and videos. 😊 Get in touch with me on Twitter!