Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Introducing Coding through Game Based Apps in Early Childhood Classrooms

A number of coding apps have been developed for early childhood classrooms. Most are “game based” apps which provide opportunities for students to engage in programming using visual programming language to create command sequences to solve a problem.

These apps are often heavily scaffolded, gradually increasing in complexity and gradually introducing key coding concepts such as :

  • logical command sequences, 
  • branching ( decisions based on conditions) and 
  • looping (repeating patterns). 

Examples of apps in this category include Kodable, Beebot App and Daisy the Dinosaur.

While these apps promote success through incremental learning they do not necessarily allow for much creativity because the solutions are generally pre-determined. In some instances, however, there is the potential to develop more efficient or “elegant” solutions.

Participating in these experiences is engaging and fun for young learners. They provide students with a sense of achievement and encourage the development of problem solving skills, and important learning dispositions such as risk taking, task persistence and self efficacy.

Engaging in these elementary game based coding apps also provides a useful bridge to more sophisticated and open ended computer programming applications such as Pyonkee and Scratch Jr which combine the use of drag and drop visual coding blocks with the potential to create more open ended and creative digital products eg animations.

In subsequent posts we will include reviews of the apps mentioned in this post and recommended for introductory early years coding learning experiences.