If your kids have always wanted to learn how to code, you're in luck: The Hour of Code could be exactly what they need to get started. And if you're not sure what coding even means, you're definitely not alone. Coding is what the "cool kids" call programming--and these days, that's what makes the world go 'round. So coders pretty much rule the tech world.
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And yes, kids can do it... lots of prgrammers start very, very early in life, and there are kids who code even better than adults.
So here's the low down on everything you need to know about the Hour of Code to help your kids achieve their coding dreams.
What is the Hour of Code, exactly?
The Hour of Code is one-hour online tutorial designed for eager future programmers of all ages. It's available in over 45 languages by Code.org. And while the Hour of Code is something your kids can do anytime, right now is a great time to encourage them to try: It's Computer Science Education Week, which runs December 5th–11th.
The Hour of Code is a set of web-based tutorials that enable beginner coders to learn the rudiments of coding by accomplishing tasks which generally play out like games.
What kind of tutorials are there?
There are a lot, many of which have been made by various partners.
Microsoft has the Minecraft Hour of Code, for example, which places kids in the Minecraft universe. By playing a game in which they create computer-like drag-and-drop instructions, they learn the basics of coding. You don't even need to have the Minecraft game installed; everything takes place in a web browser.
Disney has a similar online tutorial based on the movie Moana.
And the list goes on. Kahn Academy has a rich set of Hour of Code tutorials, and in fact the Hour of Code page has 177 tutorials you can try.
Not all kids have the same level of experience and tools available to them. The website offers lots of different options.
Pre-reader, grades 2-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9+.
Beginner or comfortable.
Class room technology
Computers, Andoroid, iPad/iPhone, Poor or no internet, or no computers or devices.
Science, math, social studies, language arts, art/media/music, and computer science.
Self-led tutorial or lesson plan.
One hour, one hour with follow-on, or a few hours.
Blocks, typing or other.
If you don't have reliable internet at home, you can also download and install Hour of Code tutorials for offline use.
Visit a camp
There's more. If your kid takes to coding like a fish to water, the fun doesn't end with your web browser. There are free Hour of Code camps you can attend in real life. Microsoft, for example, offers camps at Microsoft stores in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Teachers can host their own Minecraft Hour of Code Event. The website has all the necessary resources to help plan and lead the event.
Sites to visit
The Hour of Code lives at Code.org, where tutorials are offered from over 100 one-hour computer science activities. Code Studio is the most popular coding platform for K-12. Twenty-hour courses are available in computer science fundamentals.
Main image: Hack Miramar