Become A Code Monkey


The below resources were gathered by Jeff Sebulsky (KY STLP) and myself for an interesting article recently published in Kentucky Teacher.  It came off of the heels of an awesome debate with some colleagues on the value of teaching coding (@erinwaggoner and I won the debate over @jlassman).  I don’t necessarily believe that coding should be a core skill taught to all kids (replacing time spent on cursive handwriting though would get my vote) – just for the sake of coding…  But rather – the process – the cognition – the problem/project/performance-based aspect of coding and learning to code is phenomenal.  The point:  Coding can be easily outsourced over seas, or crowdsourced online.  But learning to think through problem solving and engineering tasks + really using newly acquired math skills to make something great is what we all should be after!

Websites to teach programming/coding

Codeacademy – a great interactive (and free) resource for learning to code/program, Sebulsky said.

Tynker – online introduction to programming focused on grades 4-8. It uses puzzles, quizzes and more.

CodeHS – Not necessarily free, but CodeHS is student AND teacher focused, providing resources for both. Also, online support is available from college-aged computer science majors who give their time to the website. – This site is really awesome for teaching/learning to code, Sebulsky said. It is a non-profit foundation that wants to expand computer programming in education.

Scratch – a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games and animation.

Kodu – lets children create games on a personal computer and XBox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling and as programming. It’s suitable for all coding beginners.

Programming apps

There also are several solid apps for various platforms (iOS, Android, XBox, Windows, etc.) to teach students coding.

LightBot  – uses drag and drop commands to move a root (age 4+)

CargoBot – students help a robot-arm solve puzzles (age 8+)

KidsRuby – focuses on helping students learn the specific Ruby programming language (age 12+)


Arduino – open-source electronics platform that are based on an easy to use hardware and software package. This requires the purchase of the basic Arduino device.

Raspberry Pi – “We don’t think that the Raspberry Pi is a fix to all of the world’s computing issues; we do believe that we can be a catalyst. We want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we’re doing. We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can’t use the internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children, and we’re looking forward to what the future has in store.”

LEGO Mindstorms –  and  Probably the more accessible and student-ready robotics platform.  Many schools use LEGO windstorms to get kids started on robotics and programming.  LEGO sells complete classroom packages with basic curriculum for teachers.

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