The catch phrase seems to be “coding is the new literacy” and while reading & writing will remain essential skills in the future now and always; these six apps are what I enjoy using in my coding ASA and classroom to get grade 2 students exposed and interested in coding.
All these apps are based on block code (think fitting puzzle pieces together), and are visual (icons etc.) so there is no need to be able to read.
- Playgrounds is Apple’s block coding platform for learning how to use Swift, Apple’s iOS coding platform.
- Scratch Jr is the early years version of the original Scratch programming language. Very intuitive and easy to use – great for planning/coding a simple story across 4 scenes with characters that can be made to move/talk/etc. This is a post I wrote awhile back about how to use use Scratch Jr to tell a story.
- A.L.E.X. I love simply because of the name! No I didn’t come up with it but a fellow teacher did. The aim is to get a robot to go from A to B without falling to space (and avoiding various obstacles) all using simple arrow commands.
- Tynker actually has a proper curriculum with a series of lessons for teachers to follow (there is a basic version and a light version) and the idea behind it is that it is great for those that want to explore coding in the classroom but are not very comfortable with it. It is also easy to upload a whole class into the system and track their progress through the various stages.
- Hopscotch and Lightbot are two other alternatives that are very similar.
My students enjoy these apps to learn the basics of coding, but by no means is this an exhaustive list. Let me know if there are other faves you have that are worth sharing.