Every year Hour of Code aims to bring coding to kids all around the world. Students spend one hour on any coding related activity during Computer Science Education Week Dec 9-15, which is an impetus to introduce students around the world to computer science in a fun way.
1-Hour Coding Activities for Kids and Teens
If your child has an interest in coding, or you just want them to try it out, Hour of Code is the time to do it!
1. Read a Coding Book for Kids
Kids who want to learn to code have more options than ever to get started. If your child learns best through reading and writing, a book may be the first place you start. Coding books for kids are not one size fits all. Below, you’ll learn how to spot a good coding book and how to differentiate between the multitude of current programming languages. Then, you can pick the right book for your child’s experience level and interest.
Here are a few of our top picks:
The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code
Age Range: 5-9
For kids who are still a bit too young to learn Scratch, there’s ScratchJr, an even-simpler block programming language. This short guide gets kids acquainted with ScratchJr, walks them through several fun projects and establishes a firm grasp of programming they’ll use in all their future programming endeavors.
Age Range: 10-14
To establish a solid foundation in Scratch and general programming knowledge, readers learn to design and animate their own characters in Scratch for Kids. They’ll learn about variables, if/then statements, loops, and basic programming logic while building 16 projects.
Age Range: 9-12
Whether they’ve learned a block language such as Scratch or haven’t done any programming at all, kids will find everything they need to build software in this slick volume. The first chapter covers downloading and installing Python, writing and saving programs. The glossary and reference section in the back of this book are helpful should be useful to kids even after they’ve finished the book and want to build new projects.
Age Range: 11+
Mike McGrath, the author of Python in Easy Steps, has written several programming books for the In Easy Steps series and does a fantastic job of presenting coding concepts in small, digestible chunks. This book isn’t specifically for kids, but it’s so well organized that middle schoolers, especially those with some experience in Scratch or another language, can easily understand it.
By the end of this book, readers will be able to build simple web pages and write desktop applications in Python.
Age Range: 11+
In this comic book style guide to building websites, kids learn the HTML markup language. They also get familiar with CSS, the language that controls the styling of web pages. Kids learn about WordPress, a content management system used for a huge percentage of current websites. WordPress makes building a website easy with templates and pre-written code for a huge array of functions. It’s possible to build and maintain a WordPress website without any coding, but tweaking the code offers infinitely more options for display, interaction, and functionality.
You will see more books in 40 Best Coding Books for Kids and Coding Books for Girls.
2. Try a Coding App for Kids
There has been a recent surge in coding apps for kids that introduce children as young as three to the basics of coding. Although some of these apps teach a specific language, most focus more on introducing the logic of coding. Kids learn fundamental concepts like loops, “if-then” statements, variables, and conditionals with the help of fun characters and bright colors,
What’s great about apps: they are conveniently located wherever your phone or tablet is. Through riddles, puzzles, and free play, kids also learn “soft” skills, like resilience, problem-solving, and patience. These coding apps help kids gain confidence by empowering them with positivity and fun.
There are so many coding apps for kids to choose from!
Age Range: 5-7
Daisy the Dinosaur is a great coding app for kids from the creators of Hopscotch (also on this list). Kids drag-and-drop commands in a simple interface to make an adorable dinosaur move, jump, and dance. The cute female dinosaur appeals to both girls and boys.
Age Range: 6-12
Move The Turtle is an educational app for the iPhone and iPad that teaches children the basics of creating computer programs through the use of a friendly Turtle.
By completing tasks, your child will learn how to plan complex activities made of simple elements, how to reuse previously completed work, and how to use graphics and sound within programming. Your child will also become familiar with the concepts of loops, procedures, variables, and conditional instructions while playing an engaging and interactive game.
Age Range: 7-13
Minecraft is one of the most popular programming games for kids out there, with currently over 100 million registered users. At its core, Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to make objects and going on adventures. But in reality, it is so much more than that.
Age Range: 8+
Originally designed as a classroom resource for teachers, CodeMonkey has expanded beyond the school walls and is available for anyone looking to learn coding skills.
Although you may be using it at home, CodeMonkey provides various insights for you that will help you monitor your child’s progress as well as assess their learning, even if you are completely unfamiliar with computer science. Another benefit? Learning how to code not only teaches children about IT, but it also nurtures logic, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills needed to be successful now and in the future.
Age Range: 10+
Brought to you by the entertainment and toy giant, LEGO Mindstorms: Fix the Factory is an addictive puzzle game full of unexpected obstacles and unique challenges, pushing kids to expand their logical thinking skills, spatial intelligence, and their robot commanding skills.
Faced with the task of helping a robot make his way through a factory, your child will learn all of the basics of how programming works while trying to beat the clock. There are also incentives for completing the mission with the highest score, making it an exciting game more than an educational tool.
Age Range: 9+
Built for high school students, CodeCombat is a platform for students to learn computer science and programming skills while playing through a stimulating and real game.
Transforming the way kids learn computer science, CodeCombat is an excellent resource for kids and parents alike who have little to no coding experience, providing a medium that rewards productive struggle which results in successful learning.
Proven as a gaming challenge that encourages interaction, discovery, and trial-and-error, kids are sure to have hours of fun while figuring this one out.
See more Coding Apps for Kids
3. Take a Free Video Led Class
Video led classes are great starting points to conceptualizing a new task! You can watch them a few times until you are confident you are able to practice the new skill. It can be the beginning of a journey to learning how to code. We recommend trying out the following to get basic knowledge of coding languages.
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More activity ideas in 25+ Free Hour of Code Activities & Games for Kids.
Hour of Code With CodeWizardsHQ
Once your child gives it a try and loves it, keep going! We offer classes for elementary, middle and high school students that are structured, comprehensive and fun! They keep kids learning and engaged and our Five Star Reviews prove it.
You can even enroll in a 1-hour introductory class and support your school’s PTA or ChickTech. When you enroll in our $20 1-hour coding class for kids, we’ll donate $10 to the organization of your choice.
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