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5 Totally Fun Code & Computer Activities for Families

Computer Science Education Ideas

Digital literacy is all the buzz, but getting your kids coding is what's on trend for 2016! There are lots of fun coding and computer skill-building activities you can do at home with your kids. Check out these top 5 picks:

1. Lightbot: Lightbot is a classic programming game, and the free Hour of Code version of the game is utterly worth the sixty minutes you'll spend on it with your child. Go to this link, and you'll see versions to play Online, and on iOS or Android devices. We suggest the Online (Browser/Flash) version; click that option, and you'll see there are modules for 1. Basics, 2. Procedures, and 3. Loops. Before doing this with your kids, go to the “1. Basics” page, click on the cute little guy to start, and go through early steps on your own first to catch on to the interface and commands model. Then dive in with your kids! Great stuff for kids with basic reading and mouse skills, generally grades 1-2 & up!

2. Typing that’s Fun: OK, we know: learning to type is boring. But maybe not... Touch typing as second nature can change your child's digital trajectory, making them master of more than thumb-typing. And DanceMat Typing is a surprisingly fun way for kids to learn this foundation digital skill. What we like is that from the very start, it gets kids hands in the right position on the keyboard. And it's from the BBC, so the voice overs have that whole Brit thing going on. And it's free! Click here to check it out – suggested for grade 3 to adult.

3. A Collection of Hours of Code & More: Hour of Code is the sensational collection of one-hour, self-paced coding games and experiences from Code.org and others – including the puzzles we use for Family Code Night. There are lots of fun Hour of Code programs you can do at home or at school. Play and code with Star Wars, Frozen, Flappy Bird, and others. Plus links to more advanced online coding classes from Khan Academy and others. It’s great fun, and you’ll learn new coding every step of the way! Do them all! Find them at https://code.org/learn.

4. Google’s Made With Code: There’s a world of fun coding projects at Google’s Made With Code. Our favorite is “Build a Yeti” (you get to build your own big hairy dancing monster!). Find it here: https://www.madewithcode.com/projects/animation. (Click the “Projects” link, upper right, for other fun Made With Code Projects.)

5. MIT’s Scratch: For older kids ready for the next step, check out MIT’s Scratch programming language for kids. With Scratch, you create a free online account at MIT, then program your own apps, games, stories, animations and more. You can even publish your creations so anyone can see and play with them. It’s all at https://scratch.mit.edu/. Click “Join” to set up your account, then explore what’s there (one way to learn: click Create, then click the “Tips” menu, a small menu choice on the upper left, and go through each Tip. You’ll learn the basics with your child, then go on from there.  Suggested for kids some some coding play experience, or most kids from grade 3 and up.


© 2016. Information Presented courtesy of MV GATE, Mill Valley, California