This week my class did an “Hour of Code” project where they created their own version of the game “flappy bird”. We did the activity as a class because we didn’t have access to devices for the kids to do the project on their own. They were excited and loved every second. They were especially excited about the fact that I would be able to send them their own version of the game that they created so they could play it at home.
Why did kids love this so much? What is the appeal to coding for kids?
I thought a lot about this and I think I have a realistic answer. Control. Kids don’t get to control much. They tend to be reactionary in their world. Most kids (especially younger ones) rely on the structures and setups of others in order to survive. They are always consumers, almost never creators.
Coding offered my kids the ability to set the conditions of the environment, the conditions for winning, and even who was playing. Using blocks of prewritten code, my six and seven year old kids were able to create something unique. For some of them it may have been the first time they have really controlled that much of anything. The concept struck me as I spoke to them, “the computer will only do what you tell it to do, nothing more, nothing less. It does exactly what you say.” Wow! Imagine that kind of power for kids that play games every day!
For the next generation of kids, (and hopefully me as well) coding offers a chance to create, control, and direct in a way that many kids never experience. We will definitely be doing this again!