In computer language, “coding” means writing the sequence of instructions that must be executed by a computer. In the world of education, this concept is linked to that of computational thinking, i.e. to the logical-creative process that allows us to approach and solve problems in a new way.
Through coding activities at school, children (even young ones) not only learn to program but above all the program to learn how to solve complex problems by breaking them down into simpler steps. The playful and creative component is fundamental in all educational activities and especially in these ones. Coding activities can be used to create activities that involve several subjects in an interdisciplinary path.
There are many websites available to teachers that offer the possibility to create coding activities, Ideodromion, thanks to its direct experience with teachers and pupils, has collected useful resources to implement coding activities in the classroom.
Code.org: free games and teacher resources
Code.org is probably the most well-known web site for coding activities. It features more than 100 games, including activities grouped based on ages and expertise. There are two types of activities: online, where students (and teachers) can play interactive games that help them learn coding basics (ie Loops), and offline, that enable students, teachers, and parents to print worksheets and work with pen and paper. A great feature of these activities is the (licensed) use of known video games and movie characters (Angry Birds, Minecraft, Star Wars, Disney Frozen, etc). It is also a multilingual site, supporting English, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Greek, and more.
Lightbot Hour of Code
The “Hour of Code” Lightbot game is a free video game that teaches basic programming skills. The player has to “program” a robot to move to a certain tile and then “light” it. It requires a lot of programming skills since it starts with basic movement and in the later levels it introduces Loops and Recursion! It is available for computers (Flash version) and also for tablets (iOS and Android). It is also available in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, and Greek.
Codespark Academy Hour of Code
Codespark Academy introduces a very friendly videogame-like environment, designed for younger students. It is available for both computers and tablets. The “Hour of Code” version is completely free and it introduces young students (ages 6+) to the logic of programming, by helping them guide their on-screen character to complete game stages. The actual Codespark environment takes this gaming approach a bit further, with the introduction of a game creation studio, where students can create their own levels.
CodinGame takes a more serious approach with more advanced programming (ie in C) and a gaming environment. It is mostly created for students with a basic understanding of computer programming and introduces a step by step approach of video game development.
Blockly Games is a series of educational games for students, to help them understand the logic of programming. It is a free, multilingual website that introduces children not only in programming but also in other educational subjects (ie animal). It takes a fun approach with various games that explore basic programming concepts and uses an approach similar to Scratch. It is based on Google’s Blockly, a graphical programming environment.