If you want to teach kids how to immerse into a world of how to create modern technologies used in day-to-day life, block-based coding may be a great introduction to programming and computer science. With self-driving cars, virtual assistance in the home, and vacuum robots, technology is persuasive in every part of our social, political, economic, and personal lives.
Coding, generally, has become a necessary skill if you want to remain relevant in the near future. Understanding how computers and technology work is not only important but necessary for children. Tech companies are continuously on the rise, and young people are now being exposed to the world of coding and computer science.
It is safe to say that the future of coding lies in the hands of the next generation. Thankfully, there are tons of free online coding materials designed to teach kids how to code.
Parents can now teach their kids how to code without necessarily having an understanding of how it works! These online platforms have created easy-to-understand guides for parents and their kids.
Overview of Block Coding
As parents, it is pertinent that you understand the various kinds of coding for kids before you teach them how to code. There are two major types of coding platforms for kids: block based coding and text based coding.
Block-based coding is a great coding platform for kids to learn how to code. Block coding eliminates the technical jargon attached to advanced coding. It makes the learning process simpler, easier, and fun.
Kids use the drag and drop method to make codes. Popular platforms such as Scratch and Code.org are block-based coding platforms.
Text coding is advanced coding and is usually suitable for kids who have a basic understanding of coding. Kids who also begin their coding journey with block-based coding platforms can switch to text-based coding platforms in the long run.
Of these two coding platforms, block coding is rated as the best coding platform for kids. It is simple, efficient, and suitable for all kids from the age of two.
What is Block Coding?
Simply put, block coding is the simplest and easiest way to get your kids started on coding. It requires dragging and dropping blocks to form animations, games, etc.
An efficient way to teach kids anything is to simplify concepts and make them as basic as possible. Block coding is by far the most basic form of coding for kids. Kids can use visual block coding platforms like Scratch to arrange patterns. With block coding, kids do not have to worry about writing down complex coding languages.
Through block-based coding platforms, kids can learn the art of persistence, problem-solving, independence, and creativity. Their knowledge is not limited to coding and computer science alone, as it can also be applied to other aspects of their lives.
Terminology Introduction for Block-based Coding
Just like every other subject, coding has specific terminologies and jargon specific to it. These terminologies differ, depending on the scope and aspect of learning. For block-based coding, some certain words and terms are peculiar to it, such as block, sprite, among others.
What is a block?
A block is a technical word in coding. A block can also be referred to as a chunk or dollop. Blocks are little pieces or chunks of instructions a coder combines to create a website, animation, game, etc.
Blocks consist of various sets of instructions or statements that guide a user on how to formulate and make sense of their work. Blocks are important for kids when coding because it guides them in choosing the template most suitable for them. Blocks can be divided into three varying categories and functions. They are:
In Scratch coding, looks blocks are used to influence a sprite’s (image) appearance or thoughts. It can also be used to change or add effects to a sprite’s graphics.
This controls a sprite’s (image) movement. For instance, users can direct a sprite to move to the left or right, take 5 steps backward or forward, or remain in a position.
Just as the name implies, a sound block is used to add or change the sound of a block. Sound blocks are also responsible for the volume and type of sound a particular block makes.
What is a Sprite in Coding?
In coding, a sprite can be described as an image or object. A sprite can be positioned, altered, or changed using the looks and motion blocks.
Every block constitutes one or more sprites that coders can use to create their desired designs. For kids, the block-based coding platforms provide options that they can choose from. The formulation of their sprites usually determines the output at the end of the code(s).
Why use block-based coding for kids?
Block-based coding platforms are ranked the best and easiest coding platforms for kids. One of such reasons is its use of the drag-and-drop technique which allows kids to drag their desired blocks and drop them on the field. They can repeat the process until they have reached their goal of a full sequence.
Block coding is the simplest method of teaching kids how to code. It is beginner-friendly and does not require any prior knowledge of coding. It also eliminates the technical terms that are peculiar to text-based coding.
In addition, through block-based coding, kids can develop a basic knowledge of coding. Kids need computational skills to code, and block coding is the perfect start for them! To code on block-based coding platforms, kids need to have an android, iOS, iPad, or a computer. This will increase their efficiency in using computers.
Block-based coding is a fun activity for kids. They get to play their favorite block games and have fun while at it!
What type of block-based coding can be taught to kids?
There are tons of block-based coding languages for kids. The best types of block-based coding parents can teach their kids are as follows;
- Java (Minecraft)
Check out (link to the easiest programming language) to learn more about these languages and how they work.
Other names for Block Coding
Block coding can also be called scratch coding. The concept of block coding was originated by MIT in 2003 when they created a programming language called Scratch. The Scratch language aimed to teach kids how to code.
So, block coding can otherwise be called scratch coding.
Programming Platforms for Block-based Coding
Many parents out there wish to expose their kids to the world of coding, but they do not know how to get started. The internet is full of contradicting information, and without a proper guide, it will be difficult to successfully navigate and get started with your kids, all for free!
Below is a list of some of the best block-based coding platforms for kids:
This is suitable for kids aged 5 and above.
Scratch and Scratch Jr
This is a highly recommended platform suitable for kids aged 5 and 8 years respectively.
This is recommended for kids aged 8 and above.
Code for Life
This platform is suitable for kids aged 7 and above.
Tynker and Tynker Jr
It is suitable for kids aged ⅝ and above.
This is a suitable block-based platform for kids aged 10 and above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about block coding for kids.
Block-based coding is a coding platform that uses a simple drag-and-drop interface which makes coding easy for kids. Block-based coding is by far the simplest coding platform to teach kids how to code. It is beginner-friendly, interesting, and fun to learn.
No. Block-based coding does not use syntaxes. The MIT Media lab discovered that the technicalities of text-based coding made it too complex for kids to grasp. So, they developed the Scratch programming language specifically for kids.
With syntaxes eliminated, kids can focus on the fundamentals of coding and solve real-life coding.
The major difference between block-based coding and text-based coding is in the learning method. Block coding uses a drag-and-drop platform, while text coding focuses more on learning the technical terms in coding.
Block coding is beginner-friendly, while text-based coding is an advanced level of block-based. Unlike block coding, text-based coding is not entirely user-friendly and it is only suitable for kids who have learned the basics of block coding.
Also, text-based coding follows syntaxes that guide users, while block-based coding has eliminated the syntaxes and focuses on building blocks.
With block coding, coding is easy and fun to learn. This article has provided you with all you need to know about block coding.
As a parent, you should make your research on the various block-based languages and resources and choose the most suitable one(s) for your kids.