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Games to teach programming to a 9-year-old?

Michael Tharrington (he/him) on February 22, 2020

Hey folks! My nephew's birthday is almost here and I'm trying to come up with a good gift for him. He's going to be 9 years old and I think he mi... [Read Full]
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I have a repo in progress for this. Anyone can PR additions!

GitHub logo syntaxseed / codingforkids

Educational coding resources and activities for kids.

Coding Resources For Kids

This list contains English resources for pre-school and elementary school aged children to learn coding either online or via native apps.

Pre-School - Grade 1

No reading or only very basic reading required.

Apps

  • Lightbot App. $3

    • By SpriteBox LLC.
    • Android & iOS.
  • Algorithm City Pro App. $2

    • By Musteren.
    • Android.
  • CodeSpark Academy & The Foos. $7.99/m

    • Android & iOS.
    • Best on tablets.

Websites

Grade 2 - 4

Light reading skills required.

Websites

  • Code.org - CS Fundamentals (grades K-5). Free.

    • Pre-Reader Courses C & D 2018.
    • Pre-Reader Courses E & F.
  • Rabbids Coding - register.ubisoft.com/rabbids-coding/

    • TODO - details.
  • Tynker.com

 
 

You might want to check Scratch. It's geared toward children.

 

Scratch is basically where I got started with programming. Couldn’t agree more about the value of it introducing kids to programming.

 

This may be a little advanced for a 9 year old - I'm not sure, I don't know that age range or your nephew enough to really say. Sounds like he is pretty "with it", after all... but I think pretty highly of Human Resource Machine. It's presented as a series of logic puzzles with a drag-and-drop interface for putting together components. It approximates programming in an unstructured programming paradigm (like Assembly). You start with just two commands available and work your way up to 11.

The puzzles are small in scope, so they stay fun to solve, and it's a great introduction to the sort of precise, formalized problem-solving mindset you develop when learning to code without getting too stuffy.

 

This game is so much fun even for adults

 

I like to start with hardware and see where that leads. You could build a desktop with him if you had the cash and he needed a pc or on a smaller scale, set up a raspberry pi with them. What’s cooler than programming a game that you could actually turn lights and buzzers on when you play? I think raspian even comes loaded with some basic scratch Ide these days.

 

No Starch Press has a bunch of books with projects for kids to teach them coding and engineering. LEGO Robotics is a popular entry point into the topic.

Endless Studios also put out a number of high-quality (but freeware) games to teach programming.

 
 

My niece is into Roblox which can be coded against. The coding element is not introductory or meant for children, but her shear interest in the game made it super appealing.

Some kids take to games meant for kids, others kind of reject them and are only interested if there is some appeal within something they already like.

Just food for thought if they don’t immediately take to a “learn to code” environment.

 

PFFFT , I learned when I was 8! I am 13 myself, and I'd recommend buying some books on a language that he may want to learn, as long as it's easy, bc he's a beginner, something like Python, HTML, Javascript, etc...
Good luck on your goal, though!

 

Kano Kits are pretty rad! I had the pleasure of reviewing their Harry Potter coding wand and, while I'm an adult, I still enjoyed the heck out of it. Their kits are less video games and more gamified programming lessons. What's neat is that you can toggle on the JavaScript view and see the code that's powering the canvas.

electromaker.io/blog/article/kano-...

A Raspberry Pi with Minecraft and this book could be a good option as well.

raspberrypi.org/blog/code-the-clas...

 

If you want to skip Scratch, perhaps Pygame Zero.

 

What about Apple's take Swift Playgrounds? It's running on an iPad and seems pretty fun to be honest. Check it out here: apple.com/swift/playgrounds/

 

I use Scratch as well as MakeCode to teach a 10 year old, both are great.

 

I can recommend construct 2 or 3. My 10 year old loves it and it's easy to grasp although 9y might be borderline. Although it needs someone to explain the basics first.

 

Check out the Kano Computer. I got one for my grandson. Really cool.

 

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