Coding for Kids

Just got back from a #HackSTB meetup where we talked about Khan Academy, CoderDojo and a few other projects that get kids to start coding.

I’m wondering which other apps, resources and projects are good. Obviously this changes quickly with age, but I figured I’d share the things I’ve found. Please suggest a few you have found.

A few people in the #HackSTB community are interested in starting something like a Coderdojo, so if this is something you are passionate about, come to the next meeting.

ps. I found this list.

UPDATE: Found Hakitzu and installed UCBLogo.

11 thoughts on “Coding for Kids

  1. I’ve been doing some coding from (Coding for Zombies) but have also using which I actually prefer as it goes at a slower pace for learning from scratch.

  2. Hey Joe,

    This has been a dream for years and is slowly – very slowly – making some progress. I’ve experimented on some kids (cue evil laugh here) and I’m currently in the middle of a rewrite of my own curriculum. Things I’ve learned:

    – I want to catch kids after they can read and do Grade 7 maths, so 12+.

    – I’m not a fan of visual environments. You learn better by typing in commands and watching what happens when you do, not by dragging around images.

    – Teaching kids to code in and of itself is the wrong approach IMHO. It should be teach kids to make their own arcade games or teach kids to do their own Mxit apps. A specific project is vital because then the code learning just happens without them realising it.

    – Language and platform matters. I got quite far with Scheme which is elegant and dead easy to learn quickly and intuitively but it plays so badly with all the mobile platforms that I realised that I wouldn’t get anywhere.

    – Lua is a great choice. It’s very like Scheme under the hood but with a Pascal-like Syntax and tons of cross-platform support and some great games libraries.

    – Spending time upfront talking about data and the different kinds of data is never wasted. Lua shines here – only a few types and they’re all easy to understand.

    Give me a shout if you want to chat :)

  3. Don’t forget about good ol’ (turtle) logo.

    While it is not pretty there is great satisfaction to be obtained in typing:
    forward 50
    left 90
    forward 50
    left 90
    forward 50
    left 90
    forward 50
    … and watching the little triangular turtle draw a square.

    There is new words to learn and the concept of angles. I don’t know about your daughter but mine loves typing stuff into a computer. She can draw stuff on paper
    and then figure out the commands to get the turtle to draw it.

    While I like Scratch I think the startup overhead is too high for a six year old. With my 6 year old it ends up with me doing the programming and her telling me what she wants the sprites to do.

    I’m playing around with ucblogo which is conveniently in Debian/Ubuntu. I think there are prettier (commercial) versions available.

    1. Logo is awesome for beginners! It’s how I got started. I think anyone who wants to teach programming has been searching for the modern equivalent of Logo their whole lives. Type something in, see feedback, cool.

  4. Our dev team is actually working on a new project to help young kids develop the logic/problem-solving skills they’ll need to eventually learn coding. Kids program a robot to navigate through progressively challenging mazes and can even go head-to-head with friends in programming tournaments. You can check it out here: We’re excited about the response we’ve gotten so far!

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