While researching and developing the curriculum for our various coding classes for kids, we looked into the details of many existing programs. As with many other great things on the internet, a number of them are free (and good). Here, we have rounded up some of our favourites.
Being unashamedly biased, we listed this first as it was developed by MIT, the alma mater of our founder, Yong Ning. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and is provided free of charge. Targeted at children ages 8 to 16, Scratch is a simple graphics based programming language. Programming is done, not by codes which are unintelligible to the average human but by putting together graphical blocks. With an online community, children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world.
Stencyl is a development platform which allows users to create 2D games for desktops, websites and mobile devices. The basic software is free but limited to publishing to the web only. Additional publishing options to desktops, iOS and Andriod is available for at a fee. The educator kit is available for free. It contains 6+1 well structured lessons which introduce students to the basics of game development: logical thinking, events, variables, artificial intelligence and objects.
Launched in 2013, code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Courses are well structured by age group with well made instructional videos and step-by-step guide. There is a studio (forum) which allows students to showcase their work
An interactive site designed for children to learn coding through guided experiments. Using drawings and simple animations, children are guided to make changes to the codes which generates them and in the process visually see how coding works. Key coding concepts like variables, conditionals, loops and functions are taught through this methodology. This is suitable for older children who are ready to learn actual programming syntax.
Established in 2006 by Salman Khan, this is a non-profit educational organisation with a vision to provide world-class education for anyone, anywhere for free. It teaches primarily via micro lectures made available on YouTube with supporting materials such as practice exercises that can be download from the site. With a more traditional approach of teaching via lectures this is more suitable for older children and adults learners.