As a parent with school-aged children, I often look at some of the things they do nowadays and feel slightly envious. I loved school as a child, but the progression of technology in the years since I left has meant that school has so much more to offer now.
To Code or Not To Code
When I first started blogging, I wanted to do it ‘properly’ and learn to code, but in the throes of baby brain, it just wouldn’t stick. Luckily, I have managed to blog without learning to code, but it’s still on my growing to-do list.
Coding Made Easy
My Beans have been learning coding through various games and programmes in school. They come alive when they explain what they have been learning, and I sit engrossed as I listen. I was asked recently if they would like to participate in Amazon Future Engineer, Hour of Code: Dance Party; I knew it had to be a big fat YES!
Amazon Future Engineer is a comprehensive childhood-to-career program aimed at increasing access to computer science education for children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities.
Hour of Code
Hour of Code began as a one-hour introduction to computer science during Computer Science Week, which runs from 9th-15th December this year. The plan was to make code easy enough for children of all ages to learn the basics. However, it has grown so much that it is now a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science.
Last weekend, my three little Beans, Lillie (11), Ollie (9) and Albie (6), took control of my PC and taught me a thing or two about code. When I explained that we had been invited to make a fun MP4 online using a tutorial called Hour of Code: Dance Party, Ollie announced: “I have been doing that at school”. The boy was a whizz; he quickly worked his way through the tutorial and explained to me what each piece of code meant. The result was a fun dance video of which he was very proud.
NB: When you watch the videos on the programme itself, you will hear music to accompany the Dance Party, but due to licensing restrictions, the videos cannot be shared with music online. You’ll find all your children’s favourite musicians, from Katy Perry, and Calvin Harris to Nicki Minaj and more.
Lillie’s Dance Party
Lillie has taken part in lots of STEM classes and out-of-school courses for robotics but wasn’t familiar with Dance Party. This wasn’t going to deter her; she worked her way through the tutorials and listened to the tips Ollie gave her until she, too, had created a Dance Party MP4 of her own.
Create your own for FREE!
You begin by watching videos at the start of each lesson (there are ten lessons to complete) which explains what you need to do to build up your dance party. The code is built up in blocks for simplicity, but as your skills develop, you can click on the ‘Show Code’ tab to the right to see the code for each block.
Anyone can create their own Dance Party for free online, just head to Code.Org; you don’t need any coding experience. Children as young as 4 are capable of learning to code. If Dance and Music aren’t your things, there are other free tutorials like Minecraft and App Labs you can also try out. Albie has only done minimal coding at school, but even he got stuck and had a go himself.
It has become my new bargaining tool for completing homework; if they complete their homework/reading/times tables, they earn 40 minutes on the PC to have fun coding. Who knows where this could lead them in future years?
I even gave it a go myself and will try more of the tutorials to see if I can’t nail this coding malarkey before my children make me look like an antique in a museum!! Even if you don’t have time to give it a whirl during Computer Science Education Week, Code.org learning resources are available all year round – so you can continue to learn and have fun any time.