Resources: Coding



I'm a big believer in computing - not just fiddling around with facebook but proper computing - learning how to make them work... The kind of computing I missed out on because I didn't own ZX when I was a kid and by the time I got my hands on a computer other people were programming them.  I think it's so important for our children to know more - in this day and age more than ever with a whole new world of aps and smart stuff.  So we are learning together!  That's what I love about home ed.

Code.org is a great place to start as it gives a great list of online resources.  The main ones are mentioned here as we have tried most of them but scroll down the page and there are lots of other links - we have not had time to try them all!

So here are the resources we've tried:

Firstly, Scratch is a fantastic website that has a very user friendly, visual language all of its own.  It gives everyone the chance to start to understand the kind of instructions we can use in programming.  It's very simple and my 6 and 8 year olds are getting the hang of it.  I think once your children can read well enough to follow the instructions they will be fine.

Following Scratch I have to mention Code Club who are aiming to "put a Code Club in every primary school in the country." But not just that they have the option on their website for Home Educators to set up their own club too - and we have done just that.  At the moment the site contains resources for three terms worth of work (estimated at one hour a week).  It starts off by using Scratch (you can use the online version or download a slightly older version for free) and takes you step by step using projects to fire the imagination. I have just started looking through these resources and they are really good, very easy to follow and lots of fun.

I have also found this resource from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  There are three courses in Computer Science outlined.  The first also uses Scratch while the last uses MIT App Inventor mentioned below.  They look pretty comprehensive and perhaps give a little more detail as they are aimed at older children than Code Club. 

Moving on from Scratch there is Khan Academy which has a section on Computer Science with fun tutorials on drawing and animation in javascript and simple programming techniques.  This is quite good fun too and I enjoyed working my way through this and hope the kids will too.

A little more advanced is Codeacademy.  I really like Codeacademy but it doesn't have the whizzbangy graphics of Scratch so is better suited to more advanced students I think.

Finally, once your children have got the hang of animation and programming why not enter Animation14, a competition run by Manchester University to encourage interest in computing by asking children to create an original key-frame computer animation.  There is a wide selection of eligible software including Scratch above.

This is not a comprehensive list of course - simply what we have found so far.  Next on my list to investigate is MIT App Inventor but I suspect that is a little out of our league at the moment.  Would love to hear if you have any more suggestions.  Thanks!

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