If you're just starting out with teaching your kids to code, Microsoft's MakeCode could be worth a look. With its consistent interface and the ability to download creations onto physical devices, MakeCode is a great introduction to the world of coding. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?
MakeCode is a web-based programming platform from Microsoft that introduces coding simply and effectively for kids. Before moving on to more sophisticated programs, the block-based programming approach allows the user to understand coding fundamentals in a more practical way.
Learning doesn't have to take place in a classroom setting. MakeCode makes coding easy for kids to grasp, but it's helpful to know how to use it first. Below we will take a look at MakeCode's most popular program and show you how kids can use it to code.
What is MakeCode?
Microsoft's MakeCode is a free cloud-based coding platform that introduces coding concepts in the simplest way possible. Even better, everything takes place on your browser, so there is nothing to install.
The block editor employs a block-based language that looks similar to Scratch. This is where users may develop a program interactively by dragging blocks from the toolbox onto the editor area. Essentially, it is about graphically displaying code by snapping together distinct blocks rather than writing programming statements in an editor.
How To Use the Block Editor in MakeCode Arcade
MakeCode Arcade is a classic 2D online game development environment. You may make your own unique playable games with just a few blocks or lines of code. This is one of MakeCode's most popular programs and the best one for kids to use when starting out with coding.
Below, we will show you how to get started with coding your very own game with MakeCode Arcade block editor.
Creating A New Game
Open your web browser and navigate to the MakeCode Arcade website to begin. To begin a project, select "New Project" from the home page and choose a title. This will open the MakeCode Arcade editor.
At the top of the page, you will see a menu with options for Blocks, JavaScipt, and Assets. (You should start automatically on the Blocks page, but if you're not, make sure to navigate there.) Below the menu, there are three main areas of the editor: simulator, toolbox, and canvas.
The arcade simulator is located on the left side. As you design your program, the simulator will automatically display any modifications you make. Buttons beneath the simulator allow you to pause/resume program execution and adjust various elements of the simulator.
The toolbox is located to the right of the simulator and contains various categories of programming blocks. These provide you access to the features that allow you to program your game.
The programming canvas, which is to the right of the toolbox, takes up most of the page. This is where you will build and change your game.
Adding Coding Blocks
The block editor allows you to build a program by dragging and arranging colorful blocks on the programming canvas. If you've used Scratch before, you're probably familiar with this type of interface. The Block editor makes it simple to get started and experiment with coding by allowing you to manipulate the blocks directly, without the mistakes and syntax problems that can arise with language-based editors.
The in the toolbox on the left-hand side of the screen, you will see a list of colorful programming blocks. MakeCode Arcade comes with a set of tools that make it simple to get started programming your game. These blocks are split up into different categories that include:
- Sprites (blue): These are the block needed to create and destroy sprites in your game.
- Controller (dark orange): This is how you will set up controls for your sprite.
- Game (purple): This section is how you will design various aspects of your game, such as gameplay and dialogue.
- Music (pink): This allows you to assign audio files and music to your game.
- Events dictate when your sprite will start following the commands assigned to it, depending on which actions are taken.
- Scene (dark grey): These are the visual aspect of your game, such as background color and screen effects.
- Info (light pink): These have to do with the data properties in the game including, score, life, and time of play.
- Loops (light green): This is how you will assign specific controls and loops that tell your sprite how often to repeat a command or when to stop.
- Logic (light blue): These hold values and manipulate lists in your game.
- Variables (red): This section holds procedures for the selected sprite within your game.
- Math (light purple): These are used to add mathematical equations and sequences to your script.
MakeCode Arcade also offers advanced block categories: Animation, Images, Functions, Arrays, Text, Console, and Extensions.
To create a program, just drag out the commands you would like to use and stack them together in a sequence. If you accidentally drag out the wrong code block, just right-click on the block and then select the "Delete Block" option.
You can continue to add blocks to your canvas until you've created a full game. If you get stuck, you can also take a look at the tutorials sections for ideas on walkthroughs.
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