Six ways to teach kids to code

Inspiring children to have an interest in coding and computers doesn’t mean you have to park them in front of a keyboard – there’s loads of alternatives.

A good place to start is our tutorials, which offer step-by-step guides to getting started with MIT’s Scratch, Lego Mindstorms and BBC BASIC.

However, there are many other resources available for getting children – and the rest of us – off to a good start with coding. Here are a few of our other favourites.

Raspberry Pi

If you read PC Pro with any regularity, you’ll have heard of this wonderful Cambridge computing project. The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computing board, perfect for learning to code and for fun do-it-yourself projects.

Raspberry Pi

To get started coding in Python, take a look at our tutorial, while our contributing editor Kevin Partner has also written a whole book about using Python on Raspberry Pi. The second edition is entitled the Ultimate Guide to the Raspberry Pi.


This inexplicably popular game isn’t about only stacking digital blocks. With a little coding nous and a mod called ComputerCraft, you
can rebuild the Minecraft world to your desire. The mod uses a programming language called Lua, which is used in some schools, to send “turtles” out into Minecraft to do tasks.

There’s a tutorial on the mod available here.



If you aren’t up for games and projects, or are looking for learning tools better suited to older teenagers, try Codecademy. This free website offers in-depth tutorials on a wide variety of programming languages, with a focus on web development. It’s an excellent way to get started in JavaScript, Python, Ruby and HTML.


Alternatives include Code School, which has some free courses, and the wonderful online learning project Khan Academy.


If rows of text terrify you or intimidate your child, get started with the principles of programming in a game. For example, the much-maligned “Year of Code” project has a Moshi Monsters-themed game that lets you alter aspects of the characters and background colours.


We also like Light-bot and iPad game Cargo-Bot, both of which let you learn while playing, while Alice is an alternative to Scratch. Code Kingdoms teaches JavaScript with colourful animal characters, while iOS games Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch target younger and older students respectively.

If you’d prefer open source, check out CodeCombat. It’s a multiplayer game that aims to teach you how to program as you play, and it’s free.

Code clubs

If you know nothing about programming, but your child wants to learn, find out if there’s a Code Club at their school or in the local area. These volunteer-led coding clubs are designed for children aged 9 to 11, and use Scratch, HTML and Python to build games and websites. Alternatives include CoderDojo and Computer Clubs for Girls.


Days out

Once you’ve tried the BBC BASIC tutorial you could head to The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, where there’s a suite of BBC Micros that are still running.

At the end of July, Young Rewired State is holding a Festival of Code in Plymouth, while Maker Faire has a host of “mini” events around the UK that should help you find inspiration. Or, send your child to a tech camp to learn game and app design.


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