There is a lot of talk lately about the need to get kids excited in website coding, for future workforce needs. So, we asked the training team at appendTo for their thoughts on the latest tools for kids.
Melanie Pinola at LifeHacker.com laid out some coding tools that are better for older kids and adults. Their interfaces are not necessarily quite as bright and appealing as, say, Daisy the Dinosaur is for younger aspiring coders. They may also not be quite as easy to use, but they offer more challenges and functionalities for students who are a bit older.
The first Pinola features is App Inventor. It’s hosted by MIT and uses the same idea as Scratch in that users drag and drop blocks of code into their programs. What sets it apart from Scratch is that it includes features that allow you to create an Android app. Older kids will enjoy being able to create something more practical and usable outside of virtual games. The interface is a bit difficult to get used to, however, and the tool comes with no instructions. A user should be ready to spend some time extra experimenting to get her app up and running.
Alice is a 3-D programming environment that teaches the basics of programming. Don’t let its purpose fool you, though. It is more advanced than other coding tools for kids. It can be used for Windows, Mac, and Linux through a desktop app. A plus is that kids can view the actual code that is creating their projects, but they will need Java runtime to use Alice.
Another coding tool available to older coding students is videos from Pluralsight. The organization offers three video courses geared towards kids. They include how to program in C# with Visual Basic, how to use App Inventor, and how to use Scratch. While your child will probably learn a lot of the basics through playing around with these tools, the videos can provide some extra instruction to give them a boost.