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What is Block Coding For Kids?

what is block coding

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There are many programming languages such as C++, Python, Java, etc. available to programmers to develop applications. All these languages are text-based where a coder writes a program by typing the instructions. While doing so he has to follow certain rules defining the structure, syntax, and semantics of a language. 

For a kid who has just started learning to code, this becomes a tedious job which in turn might lessen a kid’s interest. In order to address the fact that programming is “hard and time-consuming”, block coding was introduced.

The basic idea behind this is to create a code in a way that is both visual and similar to traditional text-based coding. All the kid has to do is to connect visual “building blocks” in a logical way. This approach became predominant in introducing kids to programming and is used all over the world now.

What is Block Coding?

Block-based coding makes use of a concept called drag-and-drop, where kids use visual blocks (as opposed to written text) to construct animated stories and games. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the world of programming.

A block-coding environment contains a number of interlocking blocks containing statements similar to the ones used in jigsaw puzzles. Each block performs a different function on the screen, for example, move left, move right, go forward are just some of the basic ones.

This lets kids select the block they want, drag and drop it into the input field. A child can then select another group of coding blocks to add to the field until they’ve constructed a sequence of coding that develops their creation.

block coding

There are many programming languages available for kids under this category. Some of the popular ones are:

  • Blockly: Blockly is a library for adding drag and drop block coding to an app. This is primarily used for computer science education, but can also give users a way to write their own scripts or configuration for an app.
  • Scratch: Scratch is a block-based visual programming language and website targeted primarily at children 8-16 as an educational tool for coding. Users of the site can create projects on the web using a block-like interface. The service is developed by the MIT Media Lab, has been translated into 70+ languages, and is used in most parts of the world. 
  • Snap!: Snap! (formerly Build Your Own Blocks or BYOB) is a block-based educational graphical programming language and online community aimed at students to explore, create and re-mix interactive animations, games, stories, and more, while learning about mathematical and computational ideas. 
  • Kodu: Kodu Game Lab is a 3D game development environment that is designed to teach kids basic programming principles. Kodu allows creators to build the world’s terrain, populate it with characters and props, and then program their behaviors and game rules in a bespoke visual programming language.
  • Alice: Alice is a full-featured programming language designed for use in teaching programming to beginners on the basis of programming principles that are well recognized within the computer science community.

Why is Block Coding Important for Kids?

Because of the ease of using block coding, it has become very popular among kids and teachers alike. Following are the reasons which make block coding important for kids.

1. Easy to Learn

This drag-and-drop approach to coding makes it so that literally anyone can do it. There’s no need to memorize anything (like functions or sentence structure) or type anything down.

It’s simple enough for students to understand it with minimal instruction and teachers to introduce it with minimal study and prior knowledge. The former applies to both kids and adults new to programming.

2. Easy to Teach

For teachers and instructors who only have the most basic grasp of coding and/or CS knowledge, block coding is a better option to teach coding. As we mentioned earlier, the drag-and-drop concept is so straightforward, you don’t need to have a masters-level understanding of programming.

3. Focuses on Programming Concepts

Instead of highlighting proper syntax and sequencing, block coding allows kids (and beginners) to focus on the fundamental concepts of programming: operators, control structures, commands, loops, conditions, and so on.

4. Encourages Creativeness

Experienced programmers can create new code and unique commands by experimenting with existing concepts. However, in the case of text-based coding, the risk of syntactical errors is quite high which discourages many to experiment with something new.

Block programming allows kids and coding beginners to experiment with the existing script without the risk of starting over from scratch. And without the option to edit individual lines of code, the chances of dismantling the entire script are pretty low.

5. Minimal Learning Frustation

Even seasoned programmers spend the majority of their coding time in debugging. Syntax errors can be incredibly frustrating when learning how to code or teaching coding for kids. It can get in the way of conceptualizing a solution in programming, forcing students to pay attention to the text details rather than the coding concept or the bigger problem at hand. What’re more, constant frustrations during learning can lead to reproach or resentment for the subject matter.

What Kids Can Do With Block Coding?

Kids can be creative while learning and can use their coding abilities to build games, videos, animations, and more. Some of the activities that most of the kids find interesting are:

1. Clicker Games

These are games in which players click icons to score points. It can be popping balloons or catching fish. The player wins a score once the picture gets clicked. After one icon gets clicked, more icons appear on the screen. In turn, the players win more points as they click these icons.

what is block coding

2. Chase Games

Chase games include a controlling character that chases another one or the object. Games, where a cat is chasing a mouse, or a cop catching a thief, fall under chase games.

CodingHero - What is Block Coding For Kids? Chase Game

3. Ping Pong Games

Pong games include the typical setup where there is a mouse/keypad-controlled paddle that a player moves to and fro to prevent the ball from touching a surface in the game, and so on.

what is block coding

4. Fly Icon Games

The player taps on up and down arrows for the character to move on a specific path. For instance, a bird moving through trees, or a boy cycling through a specific road.

what is block coding

5. Adventure Games

Adventure games are similar to standard complex video games having a storyline and going longer than usual block coding games.

what is block coding

Also, read 5 Interesting Games in Python That Kids Can Make

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