How to Introduce Coding to Elementary School Students

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Coding for kids has grown in popularity, with more parents and educators understanding the importance of this skill in the current digital age. However, teaching programming to kids is quite challenging, just like teaching an entirely new language. Therefore, teachers and moderators should find ways to make the learning process fun and engaging. Otherwise, with the steep learning curve, kids will lose interest right from the start. That said, consider the following tips as you embark on teaching kids to code.

1. Connect Programming to Writing

While it may not be direct, there are several intricate links between languages taught in education curricula and coding languages. Teachers can leverage several language arts to introduce coding fundamentals into their classes. For instance, they can begin by teaching students how to create and solve puzzles, games, robots, and other basic concepts of sequencing.

2. Pick the Right Tools

Like teaching other courses, you should have the right coding tools to ease the learning process. The following coding tools make it easy to introduce your elementary students to basic programming concepts, including loops, conditionals, algorithms, and debugging.

The Coder School

The Coder School provides tailored coding education for elementary school students and those of other ages. With more than 700 coaches on the platform, the Coder School provides great mentorship for students right from the start. Their programs recognize that students learn differently and thus create personalized learning experiences.

kids learning coding

Lightbot

It is a game that challenges learning programmers to design algorithms that help a little robot complete puzzles. The game starts with some basic commands on creating sequential algorithms before advancing to complicated levels, including loops and procedures.

Bay Valley Tech

Another option is to try a free code academy like Bay Valley Tech. Bay Valley Tech is a fast-growing tech incubator, tech community and digital workforce training program. In addition to providing high-quality digital talent to help companies grow, Bay Valley Tech also offers free, highly effective digital skills training programs. 

Code.org

This is a perfect tool for any elementary coding teacher looking to teach students coding basics. It is a website with all you need to teach your third to fifth-grade students the foundations of coding. However, Code.org has programs for students of all ages. Code.org has partnered with Scratch, CodeBattle, Minecraft, Tynker, and other platforms to create coding modules that allow kids to create apps and games.

Scratch

Students who have graduated from Code.org with some knowledge can proceed to Scratch. This is a downloadable program and website that allows students to create their learning programs. They can create games, puzzles, or stories and publish them in the platform’s open community for others to play.

Compute it

This tool challenges students with more than 50 levels of coding puzzles. Students solve the puzzles by completing various algorithms by simply using arrow keys. Students learn loops, functions, and conditionals through the game.

Made with code

This is yet another coding website produced by Google that uses Blockly language. Students learn the basics, including how to design a Yeti dance and program LED dress. It allows students to write a story using tech.

CodeCombat

Like most tools, CodeCombat also uses games to teach coding. This game-based course enables students aged nine years to learn coding through extensive exploration. What stands out from this program is the one-to-three-hour free introductory course and the beneficial resource hub for coding educators.

Codakid

This progressive program has won several awards, including the Parent’s Choice Gold awards for the best coding solution. What makes it unique is the multi-layered curriculum that includes teacher support from professional software engineers. This is good for educators with little coding knowledge.

Students learn and progress at their own pace through engaging tutorials, allowing teachers to focus on slow students. The platform begins with tailored Scratch 3.0 courses and gradually advances into text-based coding for kids that uses professional tools and coding languages.

How to Teach Kids to Code | Bryson Payne | TEDxUNG

Codeacademy

Codeacademy is a good choice for students between 7th and 12th grade. This online learning school provides students with free coding courses and lesson plans that help teachers plan their classes. Coding exercises are done in the browser with automated accuracy checking, easing the learning process.

3. Use a Workshop Model

Without a doubt, your elementary students cannot grasp coding aspects at the same level. Therefore, even after choosing the right tools and resources, you should incorporate other sound teaching strategies to improve their learning abilities. Coding experts recommend the use of Workshop models to level the learning pace of all students.

This learning model enables educators to categorize and monitor students while helping them become responsible for their mastery. Engaging students in this structure increases the students’ confidence and willingness to expand their presumed capabilities. The workshop model allows educators to organize mini-lessons and create programs with activities that suit specific groups.

Bottom Line

Mentioned above are just but a few ways of introducing elementary students to coding. For better chances of success, ensure that you conduct the learning process slowly. Allow students to interact with various coding tools and personalize their learning by choosing their coding paths. Generally, programming is a multi-layered skill that takes time, patience, and sound strategies to achieve mastery. As a result, in the future, instead of Googling “how to hire a software developer,” these kids will be able to do it themselves.


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Researcher educator specializing in Ed Tech, educational innovations, computer-supported collaborative learning, and technology integration. Based in Singapore.

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