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I know the title sounds funny and as if it is referring to a secret language.  In fact, I’m referring to computer coding and programming.  I know we might be biased since hubby is in the computer science industry.  But seriously, kids learning coding or programming is a necessary skill.  Sadly, I know many adults and kids are scared of it because they don’t know anything about it.  Don’t be!  It’s really not scary and there are lots of programs out there for beginners of any age.

Our son started playing with scratch at 5 and now has his own account with 50+ programs or games.  Scratch is free and from MIT.  Go to http://scratch.mit.edu/ and check it out!  Scratch can also be combined with Lego WeDo.  Our son first did this at Techno Chaos and then thanks to a deal through Homeschool Buyers Coop we got our own Lego WeDo so he can do even more projects.  ADS-8 also took this free class on Scratch http://pluralsight.com/training/Courses/TableOfContents/learning-programming-scratch from Plural Sight.  There are lots of videos and other tutorials out there.

Another great way to start programming is through the hour of code.  Our son did the hour of code last year.  This year’s hour of code is coming up.  In addition to the hour of code, http://code.org/learn has all kinds of beginner tutorials in programming languages such as scratch, javascript, unplugged computer science, lightbot (this one is app based and was enjoyed by our son), and other languages.

Processing is a programming language my hubby introduced to our son after he had become fluent in Scratch.  Processing is primarily for 2D graphics but it is not limited to it.  I admit to liking the projects our son and hubby do.  This language is a great next language after Scratch and is a prequel to learning Java.  It is a gateway to arduino and energia (microprocessor boards).  https://www.processing.org/ is loaded with great tutorials and examples.

I know some people complain about Minecraft, but it really does have programming potential (the computer version).  Our son has taken classes at Techno Chaos to learn about making mods and resource packs.  There are ton of youtube videos out there as well as well as several online classes.  Our son is currently taking part in http://www.learntomod.com/ beta testing for their upcoming live Learn To Mod program available to the public in January.  Their program allows kids to learn block programming and JavaScript programming.

There are even more languages out there, but this is a great start and some of the “easier” ways to start programming.  http://www.trycomputing.org/resources is loaded with links to free programming sites such as Alice, Scratch, Tynker, Squeak, Robomind, Python, Lightbot, Greenfoot, and more.  I admit that we are just starting on this adventure.  We are following our son’s interests which is currently Scratch, Processing, and Minecraft.  He now has the desire to learn raspberry pi and arduino (these will be saved for their own blog as its combining programming and robotics).  Programming can lead to future making, tinkering, and inventing!

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