With the new computing curriculum well under way I decided it would be good to find ways of helping my children build some of these skills at home. My oldest son seems to think his ICT lessons are ‘so boring mum’, and has already created a rather negative attitude towards the subject without really experiencing its full potential.
When I cast my mind back to computing lessons at school I have to admit that I don’t remember it being creative, but let me think about this…nope definitely no creativity in it at all! However it was very different, computer technology has moved forward in leaps and bounds at an inspiring rate, you can be so creative with computing now, options are endless and so much fun there is to be had!
My son is a born creative, and I intend on opening up a whole new world of creativity to him. There are lots of great games on the internet that are fun, that should get his creative juices flowing like lava, while under the surface quietly teaching him the principles of coding. Sneaky!
Problem solving games are a great way to start playing and enjoying the fun, definitely start with making it fun, otherwise the whole thing might just end up being a turn off. Programming can be difficult and daunting at first but is very rewarding when you create something.
There are a few free programs that allow you to create games without needing to write code, but instead allowing you to drag and drop symbols to visually create something. These could ease the introduction into programming and make it seem like an easier and more fun task to be starting with.
For example Fantastic Contraption is a fun physics puzzle game to get you started!
Scratch is used by many schools for 8-18 year olds where you can program and share stories, games and animation helping children to think and learn creatively. This lacks abilities of a professional program such as MS Visual Studio, but is certainly user friendly.
Daisy The Dinosaur is a very visual app which is a drag and drop and teaches the basic principles of programming, and suitable for all ages.
Code.org which is 8+ great for beginners with exercises covering the basics, anybody can learn!
Study Zone where you can log in and learn how to design, make and test your own computer programs which include interactive games, quizzes and simulations using Scratch software.
GameMaker Does what it says on the tin, you create it, then play it! There are plenty of options and tutorials to go with it. Perhaps not for total beginners but once warmed up and tried a couple of different sites, then give it go. It is a good use of software that again makes use of drag and drop. This one is more advance than Scratch and has built in tools for creating images and assets for games. There is a free version and a professional version which has more features.
Unity is professional and used for lots of fairly major games made recently. The free version had a very impressive array of tools and your gams can run on web, android, iOS, windows phone or just standalone. So this one does require code, around low-medium programming knowledge but for a free program it is apparently very powerful.
If your child isn’t into games all that much and likes to write or has a particular interest or hobby then perhaps they would like to create their own website using wordpress. Although this isn’t necessarily using code, like some of the websites above they still use the creating and building skills, layering and thinking logically about how things could work. A very exciting project to create your very own website too!
If you’re a teacher who wants to learn or brush up your ICT skills then Stuck for Schools have produced a computer training and CPD video for primary and Key Stage 3 Computer Science CPD training video lessons arming you with a toolkit designed to provide specialists and non-specialists with the confidence and knowledge to deliver teaching of key topics of the computing curriculum.
That’s it for now, I hope you have fun discovering the world of computing!