Kids Can Code with Scratch
Across Canada, there are people who are pushing to make computer programming mandatory in public school. I’ve got a few opinions on that, and they aren’t what you might think I would say. But that’s for another day.
If your kids are interested in learning about programming, there’s a great free tool for them. It’s called Scratch and it’s available at https://scratch.mit.edu/.
Scratch was developed by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, or MIT. MIT is arguably the best university in the world for computer science and engineering, so it’s not a half-baked program.
What makes it a great tool for kids 8 and up to learn programming is the visual nature of it. You drag and drop blocks that lock together to form programs. If Lego were a programming tool, it would be Scratch.
Scratch comes loaded with enough options and media files like images and sounds, to keep your young coder interested for hours. Within minutes of loading Scratch, they can have their first program completed.
Within a few hours of playing with Scratch, they could easily have their first game made. Granted, it’ll be a fairly simple game, but a game nonetheless.
If your kids get tired of programming, they can open one of the many preloaded complete programs, or the thousands available at the Scratch website, and play with those. For example, there’s a virtual dog program. The goal is to feed and water your pixel puppy so that it stays healthy and grows.
This is where curiosity creates the coder. While your kids are playing this game, they’ll soon realize they can take a look under the hood. They can easily go in and see how the game was programmed. Once they do that, they’ll get ideas of their own and start messing with that code. Let them. This is how kids really learn programming.
One more thing – Scratch is for kids 8 and up. Up, as in any age. If you’re curious about how programming works, Scratch is a great introduction for adults too. Happy computing!