This weekend I was part of hosting a packed day of coding, playing and laughing. Digitalent, the company I work for, hosted a code camp for kids where 25 kids in the ages 7-11 came to learn the basics of programming and code. This was the second time we hosted this kind of event. We are using Scratch as platform. Scratch is a free project developed at MIT and is a fun and interactive way of learning programming. If you want to learn basic programming and/or teach your kids the basics I absolutely recommend Scratch. A perfect platform for building interactive things together. There is also a Scratch Jr for the smallest.
I held a quick introduction to Scratch for the kids and their parents. Then we divided the kids in groups of 3-4 and every group had a dedicated teacher from Digitalent. After the parents left the office we had two sections of programming for about 1,5 hours each. In between we had some lunch and in the afternoon we had demo for the parents when they returned to the office.
We recommended to start prototyping and test things out together on paper. That did not work very well since we had the computers available and everyone wanted to get started with Scratch straigh away.
This kind of environment and focus on building something together really opens up the kids imagination. I'm really amazed over all the ideas the kids in my group had and how excited they were when presenting them for the group - and their parents later on.
We focused on teaching the kids the basic building blocks and how you should think in programming terms when building events, movements etc. They really got in to it very quickly and wanted to try to build things on their own. We created a really small and simple game where you controlled a character that jumped over obstacles flying towards you. At the end of the day the parents got back to our office and had the chance to see what their kids have built during the day. The kids where really excited to show them what they've built and learnt during the day. They also tried all the games and creations the other groups had been working on during the day which was a very fun moment. Many parents had to drag their kids out from the office :). When leaving they got a Scratch file with the game their group created so that they could continue working and experiment on their own at home.
This was a really fun and inspiring day! I absolutely recommend to try Scratch out and start building something together with someone else, experienced with programming or not it will be a really fun moment.
I see this day as a chance to influence and teach kids about programming. Whatever they will do in the future, programming and code will probably be a huge part of their lives.
I will make another post later where I will show how you can get started with Scratch and build something small.