If you are about to start a business teaching STEM and coding classes to kids, you are probably an expert in the field. But, just knowing how to code does not mean you can jump right in and teach kids to code. In fact, you might find that it is tougher to teach coding than to actually code.
To help you as you prepare to bring a new generation into the wonderful world of STEM and coding, we’ve outlined our top tips on teaching kids to code, including some of our favorite coding games, projects, and lessons for kids. And if you want to learn how to write a curriculum, check out our guide!
Teaching kids to code
How to teach coding to kids
Coding might seem complex, but as a good teacher, you will be able to break it down and help your students understand the concepts so they can go forth and code. Here are some of the important elements to keep in mind when you teach coding to kids.
Start with the basics
Before you can start teaching kids to code, you need to define coding and give simple explanations about how it works. Children are starting with fairly blank slates when it comes to this topic, so you really need to take a step back and help them understand the fundamentals before you can dive in.
- What is code? Code is instructions that walk a computer through a task step-by-step.
- What is coding? Coding is the act of writing these instructions so the computer can complete the task.
- Why is coding important? Coding is what runs the apps, browsers, and devices that we use every day. You might think you have a smartphone, TV, or computer, but without code, it would just be a blank screen.
Connect coding with their interests
While children might not yet know enough about coding to be interested in from the get go, they have plenty of other interests that relate. If they love LEGO, introduce them to LEGO Studio and visual coding. If they love Minecraft, start them with Java and if they love Roblox, you can show them Lua. If your students are a little older, teaching Python to kids who are interested in artificial intelligence is a good shot.
Start with languages that are more manageable
Scratch is the perfect programming language for young children because it utilizes drag and drop code blocks. If the code doesn’t work, then the blocks won’t connect so children can learn correct syntax. Older children who have experience with Scratch should move onto Python because it has simple syntax and readable code.
Celebrate little wins
When children start learning something new, it is easy for them to get frustrated quickly. Make sure that you take time to celebrate their wins in each class so they feel rewarded for working hard. Coding is tangible, so make sure they are doing hands-on projects and learning by doing.
Coding games for kids
Teachers know that playing games can enhance classroom learning because they are interactive, which really gets the brain juices flowing. To help you plan your lessons, here are some of our favorite coding games for kids. Without even realizing it, your students will be building and creating coding projects!
- Roblox: Children learn how to be creative and build programming concepts while having fun. See Roblox in action. Learn about the benefits of playing Roblox for kids in our article.
- Minecraft: Likewise, Minecraft lets children build their own worlds while learning coding fundamentals so that they can move onto larger projects later. See Minecraft in action. Learn about the benefits of playing Minecraft for kids.
- Blockly Games: Children can play games in which they practice dragging and dropping different bits of code to create programs that solve problems. See Blockly Games in action.
- BitsBox: They offer a digital and physical version, which is rare in coding games for kids. For parents who want their child to learn offscreen and for teachers who are not able to provide computers to every student in class, BitsBox can be a good option. See BitsBox in action.
- Code Karts: This phone app takes coding learning on the go. If you want to assign homework from your class, you might want to use this app since students can do it when they are on their way to and from school or any other time they have access to a phone. See Code Karts in action.
- Code.org: This is actually one of our Sawyer providers! Code.org provides free lessons in coding, which can be helpful for supplemental learning for students. As an instructor, you might also benefit from taking a peek at how they go through certain concepts and ideas. See Code.org in action.
- Kodable: More than 50% of schools in the US use Kodable to teach coding concepts to students. Therefore, you might want to consider this as a resource for your students since they may already be familiar with the program. See Kodable in action.
- Codemoji: Arguably not the most traditional way to learn coding, Codemoji utilizes emojis instead of code to teach the fundamentals to children. It helps take out a lot of the pressure and keeps coding fun. See Codemoji in action.
- Osmo: This is a downright fun game that teaches fundamentals as well as more advanced coding concepts. They also offer a mix of online and offline activities for parents who want to reduce screen time. See Osmo in action.
Coding lessons for kids
Preparing to teach a class does not need to feel daunting. Focus on coming up with an idea and then writing a lesson plan to support your teaching. For information on how to write a lesson plan, including lesson plan examples, read our guide. Need help coming up with an idea? Here are some of our favorite coding lessons for kids, many of which are being taught right now by Sawyer educators!
- Language-specific classes. Deep dive into one language so your students feel like experts. Then, you can offer intermediate and advanced level classes for children who have already finished level 1. Make sure your classes are hands-on and include many coding projects for kids who are interactive learners. This type of class is best done in semesters.
- Minecraft/Roblox/LEGO Studio classes. We know you know that children love Minecraft and Roblox. A lot of educators are teaching coding classes within these games so that children are excited, interested, and most importantly, learning. These lessons can be done as drop-in or one-off classes and they can even be themed based on the season or holidays.
- Digital design classes. Graphic design and front-end engineering are often more fun for children because they can see coding bring their imagination to life. Try dinosaurs, Barbie, historical villages, or another themed digital design class to make it more fun for your students. These classes are great individually or as semesters with different themes each week.
- Math & data science classes (that are fun). Some children connect more with the math and data side of coding. You can run a class looking at the arithmetic behind the Pokemon card game or the data behind sports statistics to get these children excited to learn. These are likely better as semester classes so you are not rushing the concepts.
- Let them explore. Sometimes, the best way for children to learn is to let their imagination run wild. Free play and exploration with your supervision is a great way for children to start feeling more comfortable behind the keys.
Get your editable coding lesson plan template
Teaching kids to code is a rewarding experience. After reading this article, you should feel more comfortable preparing coding lessons for kids of all ages. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. We work with businesses every day to save time on admin and spend more time in the classroom. See how it works with a free trial or demo today.