Teaching Computer Programming to Elementary Students: Scratch, CodeAcademy

Looking for a way to get your elementary and middle-school students interested in programming at an early age?  You might try introducing them to Scratch, then taking your more advanced learners over to CodeAcademy.

Scratch, developed at MIT, is a user-friendly introduction to programming that allows students to program in pre-written blocks of code called scripts that help new programmers avoid the frustration of one missing semicolon messing up a whole chunk of code.  Completed projects can be uploaded to the Scratch website where they can be viewed, commented upon, and even improved upon by others.

Code Academy teaches students (or anyone) to program in JavaScript.  It uses quick exercises that build upon each other and slowly increase in complexity, and in a manner similar to other online tools such as Khan Academy and IXL, awards badges and points for the successful completion of these tasks.

Although it might be tough to justify devoting major chunks of class time to this with your entire class, either of both of these sites would be outstanding for use in an elementary or middle-school tech club format.

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4 thoughts on “Teaching Computer Programming to Elementary Students: Scratch, CodeAcademy

  1. Thanks for these links. I’ve been using HTML and then creating iPhone apps via PhoneGap.

  2. Have you used Scratch, Codecademy, Khan Academy Programming, or Blockly in your classroom? I’m an elementary school teacher looking to start an after school club but I don’t know which may be more developmentally appropriate. Does the curriculum need to be modified any?

  3. I ran a programming club last year using Scratch. I would start there if your students are 5th grade and below. For older kids, Scratch could still work, but the others become more legitimate options as well.

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