Learn computer programming from home, with your children

The coronavirus lockdown may be entering a new phase that will allow many of us to return to work, but one thing we’ve learnt from recent events is the value of skills and knowledge that can be applied anywhere and don’t require travelling to a particular place of work. One skill that fits this new way of working very well is computer programming, also known as coding. The new digital curriculum for schools, which became mandatory this year, means that students will be learning much more of this at school, but will parents be able to keep up? This seems like the perfect time for parents and children to start learning coding together, and there are lots of online resources that can help, many of which are engaging and fun for children and adults alike. Here’s a short list to get you started, but if you come across others that you like, please post them in the comments section below…

Hour of Code

This is a large collection of free activities for beginner learners designed to introduce coding in various different programming languages and contexts. This is a great place to start. Just pick one you like the look of and give it a go. If you have time, maybe try to make a commitment to do a different one each week. You’ll soon be well on the way to picking up the basic concepts of computer programming.

Minecraft Hour of Code

Learn to code by playing Minecraft! This website introduces basic concepts of programming while you play so that you’re learning without even realising it, and you don’t need Minecraft to use it as it’s all built into the program. This idea of ‘gamification’ is also behind puzzle games like Human Resource Machine and 7 Billion Humans, which are based on assembly language, and websites such as Code Combat, which gamifies the learning of JavaScript and Python, two widely used programming languages.

Beyond an Hour of Code

This is a collection of free activities designed for people who have completed several Hour of Code activities and want to take their coding to the next level.

Code Club Aotearoa

This is a network of free, volunteer-led after-school clubs that operate in different venues all over the country, often in libraries. The volunteers usually work in the IT industry and they have a passion for teaching young people about computers and programming. Alongside these clubs, they also have an excellent website with step-by-step guides for creating animations, games, websites, and other projects that encourage children to use and develop computer coding skills. These cover a range of different programming languages, and technologies.

Scratch

This free, graphical, ‘block-based’ computer programming language from MIT is designed with children in mind, and is widely used in schools throughout the world. The Scratch website has lots of great tutorials to get you started, and as users can make their projects public, it’s easy to learn by playing with other people’s code. There’s also a version for younger children called ScratchJr.

Code Academy

For more advanced learners, this is a collection of computer coding courses, arranged into skill paths for people who want to acquire new, job-ready skills, and career paths for those looking to build a foundation for a career in tech. There is a free basic package, with a Premium Pro option that has a subscription fee.

Gamefroot

Why not learn coding by creating your own game? Gamefroot makes it easy to do that while learning coding concepts from the New Zealand curriculum. This is the perfect place to begin for those interested in a career in video game development. It’s free to get started, but some premium content requires paid-up membership to a club.

Kano

This is another nicely designed website with resources for learning coding and making digital art using coding skills. Why not start by making your own version of the classic arcade game Pong!?

After School Clubs

Check out the After School Clubs and Programmes page on the Library’s website, where there are links to lots more resources, including a weekly challenge related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Maths (STEAM).

eBooks

The library has lots of books to help get you and your family learning to code. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. All of these eBooks can be used from home without even having to come to the library, but we have many of them as physical books too, and a lot more besides.

Learning to code

List created by robcruickshank

eBooks aimed at helping children and families learn about computer programming and coding, with a particular emphasis on eBooks suitable for parents and children learning together. Listed in approximate order of difficulty.

Suitable for younger children, and complete beginners.

Suitable for younger children, and complete beginners. A great place to get started with ScratchJr.

A nicely illustrated introduction to the ideas behind coding.

Suitable for beginners of all ages. A great place to get started with Scratch.

Suitable for beginners of all ages, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for beginners of all ages, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for beginners of all ages, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for beginners of all ages, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for beginners of all ages, with some more advanced projects.

The first in a series of graphic novels. Read them all!

Suitable for older beginners, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for older beginners, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for older beginners, with some more advanced projects.

Suitable for young coders who have mastered Scratch and want to try a text-based programming language.

Suitable for young coders who have mastered Scratch and want to try a text-based programming language.

For older children, and more advanced learners.

For older children, and more advanced learners.

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