5 Best free Coding Lessons for Kids

Learning some coding skills is an essential need nowadays, and kids who never have that opportunity can be at a serious disadvantage in our society. The good news is that there are so many ways to learn for free!
Below you will find some ideas to help your kids learn to code while having fun:

Code.org is the basis for most school programs and after school programs, but not everyone realizes that they could just use it for free instead of paying for expensive classes.  There are basic introduction lessons, called “Hour of Code”, which give kids a sense of how to use the drag and drop interface and some basic commands in about an hour, and there are longer programs, that go more in-depth.  Most of it is done using Scratch, which is also available for free.

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and was developed as software that could be used as an easy way to teach kids to code using blocks and a drag and drop interface instead of having to code by typing the commands, which can be a very frustrating and slow process for beginners. Most kids will figure out how to do a lot with Scratch just by playing around with the software, but you can also follow their tutorials. Scratch also has its version for even younger kids, called Scratch Jr.

Computer Science First by Google
Google offers a completely free curriculum for families and educators.  The curriculum uses other skills, like writing, arts, music, animations, and even sports, to teach kids basic coding skills and concepts.  Parents can also sign up as educators to assign materials to their kids and monitor their progress.

Grasshopper is an app developed by Google to teach kids to code Javascript. It works by splitting lessons into very manageable short and fun chunks and it has a reward system that can keep kids interested and moving along. One of the advantages is that it uses real coding, instead of the drag and drop interface, so kids learn to write the code, not only drag the correct code into place.

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is known for offering free solid lessons on all kinds of topics, and one of them is coding. They have a more advanced Computer Science program, but also offer an introduction to programming languages, like their Introduction to Javascript: Drawing and Animation.

Special Mention:

Think Like a Coder
I couldn’t include this as a coding lesson because it is not really a curriculum, but it is such a fun series ( 9 episodes) to teach kids to think like a coder, with challenging problems to be solved using coding skills, that is certainly worth checking out.  Kids will probably get more out of it if they already have a basic understanding of what can be done with coding, but either way, it is a great series to watch and try some logical thinking.  This series is developed by TedEd. It is also great to have the main character be a woman of color for a change.

A few coding books:

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World 

A Beginners’ Guide to Coding

Coding for Kids for Dummies

Author: Taty (Mom)

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