It is actually pretty crazy the amount of stuff that is available to teach kids ages 5- 9 to program (or to code if you prefer) once you really start to look. Since the topic is a little vast, we are going to try to break it down for you by finding the best languages for kids, fun websites, books, and interesting apps that will all help kids learn how to program.
For a Fun and Easy Intro to Coding try these Kid Friendly Platforms:
Kodu (ages 7 +) lets kids create games on the PC and XBox using a simple visual programming language. Young children who have no design or programming skills can use Kodu to make games. Before you get started make sure you watch the introductory videos and also check out the in game tutorials by going to ‘Lessons’ and start with the first tutorial and follow the prompts. There is also this official guide to Kodu that can help your kids work through site.
Scratch (ages 8+) is a programming language that makes it easy for kids to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art and then share what they have made on the web. It was created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT. The site has a great Getting Started pdf and also some video tutorials you can check out before you get going or check out this really good book to help your kids work through the site.
Robomind is a simple programming language designed to help kids learn the basics of computer science by programming their own robot. This gives kids an introduction to programming techniques, and helps them learn about logic and robotics.
Books to help Kids Learn Programming
Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners is a great book to help teach kids how to program. This book introduces the basics of computer programming through Python, it is good for ages 9 +. This is probably the most popular and most recommended book for teaching kids to program. There are lots of great reviews around for it and it is highly recommended.
The next book we would recommend is a fiction story book called Lauren Ipsum that was written by an engineer who works for Facebook. It is a fairy tale that seeks to introduce children ages 5-12 to the concepts of computer science.
Apps that Teach Kids Programming
- Move the Turtle. Programming for kids (ages 8+) teaches children the basics of programming including the notions of loops, procedures, variables and conditional instructions. Wired’s GeekDad reviewed this app and said of it “Move the Turtle is a bargain at $2.99, and is a great introduction to programming for kids (and adults who like turtles). I highly recommend it for all kids, whether or not they want to get into programming. The kind of thinking required to solve the tasks in the app is important for everyone to learn, for every field of study.”
- Daisy the Dinosaur (ages 5-9) is a free iPad app that teaches the basics of computer programming like basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events.
- Kodable is a free educational iPad game offering a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. For kids ages 5 and up.
- Cato’s Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey wants to teach kids and young children basic programming skills. The younger ones will obviously enjoy solving levels using simpler coding techniques but the hope is the older ones will pick up more advanced concepts like loops and branching as well as even more advanced concepts like a basic stack or memory.