This year, December 5th-11th, the Hour of CodeTM is bringing the basics of computer programming to schools around the world. Organized by Code.org, the event is guided by the premise that every student should have an opportunity to be introduced to computer science. The event seeks to demystify code and show students that anyone can learn the basics, providing them with a stronger foundation for success in any 21st century career they choose, even if it does not directly involve programming.
Code.org provides online support for teachers and administrators who want to organize their own Hour of Code events, including one-hour tutorials available online in over 40 languages. No programming experience is necessary for the students or the teachers, and there are tutorials available for all ages, starting even with non-computer based activities for ages 4 and up.
Teachers can simply sign up online to join thousands of other educators in bringing coding to their classrooms, and select one of the available, ready-made step-by-step tutorials. The options include a variety of modes, including Scratch, Java, and Python, and a lot of fun themes relevant for kids like Frozen, Star Wars, and Minecraft. The teacher can then act as a facilitator, providing encouragement and helping students troubleshoot as they learn on their own to create exciting animations, games and, videos with code.
Those teachers who are interested in exploring even further and taking coding in the classroom beyond the hour will find many free tools online that can help to support their students. Here are some great ideas for teachers who are interested in designing their own Hour of Code activity or in having their students continue with coding after the hour.
Suggestions for High School:
Codecademy - tutorials in multiple programming languages based around tasks like building websites or games
Suggestions for Middle School:
Code Monkey - a board game to teach coding, ages 9 and up
Scratch - use blocks of text to program your own interactive stories and games and share them online
Kodu - kids can create games on the PC and Xbox with this simple programming language
Suggestions for Lower School:
Kodable - even students who are not reading yet can work through this coding puzzle game
Hopscotch - students can make their own games, or draw and learn about angles with this app
ScratchJr - kids ages 5-7 can build games and animations using this platform
Daisy the Dino - a simple, short iPad app for any student with basic reading skills
Suggestion for Pre-K:
Robot Turtles - a board game for ages 4 and up to teach logic, sequencing, and the basic frameworks behind coding
This post has been updated and was originally published in December 2015.