So you're interested in learning more about coding for kids, but you're not quite sure where to start? One helpful resource that our parents and teachers love is Code.org. We've had the privilege of working with the wonderful folks from Code.org on curriculum development, and their knowledge of computer science is first class.
So today, we're going to share everything you need to know about how to use Code.org to get the most from it for your student! You'll discover awesome games, tutorials, and much more. We'll also cover a few ways teachers can use the platform as well.
What is Code.org?
Code.org is an awesome nonprofit with a goal of driving more interest in computer science from kids all around the world. They make it easy for students to get access to computer science right in their schools. And they're particularly interested in supporting young women and students from other historically underrepresented groups in the STEM fields, as they begin their journey into the fascinating world of STEM. Their dream, is that every student in every school can learn computer science as part of their core K-12 education. How great does that sound!?
What does Code.org do?
To achieve that goal, today Code.org creates cool computer science courses, sometimes partnering with other companies to make them. They train teachers to be able to bring those lessons into the classes room. Then, they partner with large school districts to help get every child access. Also, Code.org helps change government policies through their Code.org Advocacy Coalition. And they do marketing to help break the stereotypes around coding, and who can be a good coder, today.
One of the most fun campaigns Code.org originally ideated and runs every year is the annual Hour of Code campaign. The basic concept behind the program is that with just one-hour any kid anywhere can get started with coding and be proud of what they made. So far the innovative program has engaged more than 15% of all the students in the world!
What age is Code.org for?
Code.org is best for students ages 6 and over, and offers courses for students in grades K-12. Their curriculum is complete with courses for early-readers, through more advanced lessons. Each course experience is a blend of online activities and "unplugged" activities (lessons in which students can learn computing concepts with or without a computer) which helps make the material suited for a broad range of ages. There are also awesome one-hour tutorials designed for all ages, and inspiring projects for all ages. It's never too early to get started with coding because of the way it can broaden your child's creativity!
Is Code.org free?
Yes, all sorts of lessons and activities are free on Code.org for both teachers and students. Here are Create & Learn we also offer tons of free fun online coding classes for kids.
How did Code.org get started?
Code.org got started back in January of 2013 when twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi teamed up based on an idea Hadi had. The thought came to Hadi, while he was thinking about his own potential legacy in the wake of Steve Job's passing in 2011. The goal was to make computer science more accessible for all kids. Initially, the brothers focused on creating a database of all the computer science classrooms in the United States. After publishing their website, they shared a video featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and other programmers and entrepreneurs promoting computer science, that was really popular. From there, a lot of interested schools reached out to the Founder for help and the rest is history!
Code.org for students
Code.org offers students the opportunity to both learn and build with computer science.
Learn with Code.org
Code.org has a catalog of courses they've designed, and some from 3rd party partners as well to help guide students on their coding path. Kids in Grades K-5 can learn to make their own game, app, or computer drawing.
Designed for older students in elementary school classrooms, Course C is a popular place to begin. It teaches students to create programs with sequencing, loops, and events. Translate their initials into binary, investigate different problem-solving techniques, and learn how to respond to cyberbullying. At the end of the course, you can create your very own game or story you can share. The course guides you step by step through each project right within your browser.
Kids can also explore career paths, extended learning, scholarships, internships, and more.
If you're interested in learning coding with live help from an expert, rather than on a self-guided path where accountability is solely on you, be sure to check out fun Scratch coding classes.
Build with Code.org
Students also have free access within their Code.org accounts to all sorts of challenges. Directly in their browser they're able to enjoy the Sprite Lab (making characters move), Artist (draw something cool), App Lab (design simple apps), Game Lab (create and complete cool games), and Dance Party (pick a song and animate a music video).
Kids can explore inspiring projects by other students. And try their hand at one-hour tutorials through Hour of Code. (By the way Code.org tutorials work on all devices and browsers. You can see more information about Code.org's tutorial tech needs here.)
Hour of Code with Code.org
The Hour of Code is an annual event the non-profit hosts every year. It started on December 9, 2013 as a way to show kids that anybody can learn coding basics, even with just an hour of time. Today, millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries have participated!
The Hour of Code continues to take place each year during Computer Science Education Week. The celebratory week kicks off in December, in recognition of the birthday (December 9, 1906) of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. Stay tuned because Hour of Code registration is opened every October.
However, you actually don't have to wait until then to give it a try! Hour of Code activities are available year-round including full-length courses, and one-hour tutorials designed for all ages. There's no excuse not to give it a try because they even offer tutorials you don't need a device for. Up next, we'll share a few of our favorites.
For teachers looking to share Hour of Code activities with their classes, you can request a free live online activity from Create & Learn's 9 options.
Looking for a fun Hour of Code tutorial to try for your class, after school with a group of children, or even at home by yourself? Here are a few to check out:
Scratch animation: Find out how to code games and animations with a live one-hour class online. In this lesson led live by an expert instructor, you'll learn block-based coding fundamentals and build your first game.
Space adventure: Write real code to help the monkey astronaut catch bananas in space! This game consists of over 17 levels, and students will learn CoffeeScript, a programming language that is easy and functional.
Shark attack game: Learn the basics of coding your own game with MakeCode Arcade. First, you'll create a main character that shoots some projectiles. Maybe that's a duck that shoots bubbles, or a monkey throwing bananas, or a cat that spits hairballs--it's up to you. Then, you'll advance to completing the challenging shark game.
Code with Disney's Frozen: Use code to join Anna and Elsa as they explore the magic and beauty of ice. In this fun activity, you will create snowflakes and patterns as you ice-skate and make a winter wonderland that you can then share with your friends!
Minecraft activities: Learn Minecraft programming as you go step by step through 10 wild challenges in the Minecraft demo world: Minecraft AI for Good. Meet the agent, gather data, and save the village!
Python intro: Looking for an option for students 11+? Dive into a top real-world programming language with a free live online class. Learn how to animate and draw with Python, and build your own story project to create a cool animation.
Create with Roblox: Join this fun online lesson led live by an expert as you find out how to install and activate the Roblox Studio, which empowers you to code your own Roblox worlds. In this class, students complete a self-paced tutorial to create a simple interactive experience.
Discover Code.org games
Code.org games are available for all ages and in over 45 languages, so you're sure to find something you love. Here are a few to jumpstart your computer science journey:
Pre-reader: Make the sun set. "Can I Make the Sun Set?" is an introductory activity meant for children in kindergarten through second grade with little to no programming experience to learn the basic features of ScratchJr and the elementary concepts of coding. Through this activity and continued time with ScratchJr, students will have the opportunity to think creatively, become storytellers, and improve upon mathematical reasoning and sequencing skills. Later, children can use the skills they have learned to create their own unique projects.
Grades 2-5: Save the forest with a game designed by Microsoft. Code a game with Microsoft MakeCode Arcade that recreates the conditions for a forest fire, and then code your fire-fighting airtanker plane to spray water and put out the flames! Or code your own sports game with a fun adventure designed by Code.org. Choose between making a basketball game or mix and match across sports!
Grades 6-8: Design a basketball game. Learn the basics of coding in Python while creating your own basketball game. You'll learn how to add backgrounds and sprites, and how to use events to control the motion of sprites on the stage. Or try Harry Potter magic! Learn to code and make magic on screen with creative challenges. Make feathers fly and fire flow, compose music, and more.
Because kids love playing the video game Minecraft, it's also become a popular medium for learning coding. Once students learn Minecraft modding they can bring fantastically creative world's to life. So Code.org offers a ton of ways to get started with Minecraft coding for students in grades 2 and higher.
In Minecraft Voyage Aquatic, students explore and code underwater worlds. With Minecraft Hero's Journey, students are challenged to complete an interesting journey, by learning more coding fundamentals. In Minecraft Timecraft, students can travel back through history. These cool Microsoft programs are a great way for your child to build their digital skills and get more involved in computer science.
While students can have great fun with Code.org, so can teachers! Up next we dive into how the resources on Code.org can empower instructors to bring a love of computer science into their classrooms, no matter where they are.
Code.org for teachers
Code.org is also a useful tool for teachers, as their computer science curriculums are available at no cost for anyone, anywhere to teach. The non-profit is a member of the steering committee that helped establish the K-12 Computer Science Framework - a high-level guide for states, districts, and organizations implementing computer science education. So teachers can trust that the educational content they discover on Code.org will be great for their classrooms.
Elementary school curriculums
The most popular option for elementary school classrooms is Code.org's Computer Science Fundamentals. This program has both online and "unplugged" non-computer activities to teach students computational thinking, problem solving, programming concepts and digital citizenship. The six courses each include 10-25 hours of instructed learning. Students learn how to create their own games, art, and digital stories that they can share. You can teach these classes as part of your classroom schedule, weekly lab or library time, supporting lessons for math and language arts, or to make creative projects.
If you'd prefer to incorporate computer science into your regular lessons, they also offer the CS Connections curriculum. Through this program, K-12 classrooms can learn computer science concepts at the same time as learning other subjects like language arts, math, and science.
Middle school curriculums
Computer Science Discoveries is an introductory course for 6 - 10th grade students that can be flexibly taught as a single semester, two semesters over multiple years, or as a full year course. Mapped to CSTA standards, the course takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as problem solving, programming, physical computing, user-centered design, and data, while inspiring students as they build their own websites, apps, games, and physical computing devices.
High school curriculums
CS Principles is designed for high school students and introduces kids to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. This year-long course can be taught as an introductory course and as an AP course - no prerequisites required for students or teachers new to computer science!
By the way, Create & Learn also offers an AP-level class on computer science principles, where students learn core computer architecture topics - binary, networking, security, algorithm, and more.
Did you know students who take AP Computer Science Principles are 12% more likely to enroll in college compared to similarly-situated peers? And students who take AP exams are more likely to graduate 4-year college, regardless of their score on the exam.
Code.org also provides a growing library of educational videos available for re-use by educators worldwide, online or in classrooms.
One of our favorite videos is about AI with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most transformative technology of our time. It's changing every aspect of human life. It's helping us develop new medicine, improving our farming and conservation techniques, driving our cars and making some truly weird art.
You can also show students how the Internet works, with a cool video series featuring Vint Cerf, the inventor of TCP/IP, David Karp the founder of Tumblr to explain HTTP and HTML, Google's "Security Princess" to explain SSL and cybersecurity, and engineers from Microsoft, Spotify, and Symantec.
Get started with computer science and Code.org
Now you know everything about beginning your coding adventure with Code.org. To stay up to date on their latest offerings, be sure to connect with Code.org on their social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube.
Up next, learn how to code a Pacman game. Once you’ve finished, be sure to upload your project to your Create & Learn student account for a chance to be featured in our kids coding projects gallery. For expert guidance, fun, and the skills to foster your endless creativity, join our most popular beginner-friendly computer science class: