Why do we use game design to teach kids to code?
How do we keep children engaged in this digital age? When there is an electronic device with an infinite amount of boredom-crushing activities within arms reach at all times, believe me, it can be tough! However, there has always been one sure-fire method to ensure that children learn and actually retain content that they are being taught - and that method is making the content as fun as possible. It is fact that when the content is fun, children will be engaged, they will learn and they will retain knowledge at a much higher rate than with content that is considered ‘boring’. One of the most effective ways to make learning fun and keep children engaged is game creation. This is especially effective when teaching children how to code.
Games are something that children fundamentally understand and enjoy. They have played them their whole lives - whether using a computer or not. All a game is, is a series of logical steps that have to be followed to play and, at its core, this is all that coding is. Children understand that if they collect all of the coins on their level, their score will increase and they will win the game. They also know that if they press the left arrow key on their keyboard that their character will move left.
The beauty of learning to code through game creation is that if something doesn’t work or is not quite right, the children spot it straight away and can then use their understanding to fix the game up in real time.
That “real time” thing is also very important in keeping children engaged. Children in today’s world are used to instant gratification. If they want to watch a movie, they don’t have to go to the local video store and hire one, they can watch one with a few clicks of a mouse or a few swipes of their fingers. It is so important to keep a fast pace and keeping wait time to a minimum. With coding, it is live, it is real time, children can see instantly if their code isn’t functioning properly and can come up with fix there and then. All in all, children learning anything new often find it challenging, especially when they are taking on steeper learning curves at a much younger age, as they are nowadays. Teaching them a complex skill such as coding via something they are already familiar and comfortable with, which they find fun and engaging, means we are already halfway there.
1. Get creative with Minions
What is it?
Kids go bananas for Minions (pun intended) and these school holidays they can express their fandom making a Minions movie using stop-motion animation techniques. Over 2 days, kids create their own Minions clay characters and design their own film set. The magic begins when they see their characters come to life by taking multiple images of objects and stitching them together to look like they’re moving! - It’s incredibly fun!
If they watch their favourite animated movies on repeat, they’ll love creating Minions clay figurines and developing their own story, taking lots of still frames and stitching them together to create their very first movie!
2. Become a DJ
What is it?
Children will take their first steps into the exciting world of mixing music to create their own DJ set.
Kids will love mixing their favourite pop tunes using beat matching and transitions on real DJ decks. Plus, they will design their own DJ brand, develop branded merch, and even perform a DJ set to their friends!
3. Pilot a drone
What is it?
Kids learn to pilot a drone using coding to design a flight path and watch in wonder as the drone takes flight!
If your kid shows an interest in drones, they can learn more than just the basics of flying. Kids get a taste of cutting-edge technology and learn about coding, problem-solving, engineering, design, and more. They’ll learn about drone tech and safety, movie making, and discover how drones have a positive social impact when used to fight bushfires, rescue koalas, spot sharks on the coast and loads more!
4. Become a YouTuber
What is it?
While they may not end up with YouTube stardom, we’re sure kids will have a new lens on screen time. They will be equipped with the skills to start producing and directing their own ideas instead of simply watching other people's! Plus, they’ll gain confidence ‘performing’ in front of audiences and on set and importantly, learn about staying safe online.
Taking a YouTube fixation and turning it into something incredibly productive where kids will learn planning, storytelling, filming and video editing to become the star in their very own YouTube-style videos.
5. Produce a LEGO movie
What is it?
Turn hours of playing with LEGO characters into an even more creative pursuit, by teaching kids to create their own LEGO Movie.
They can use their favourite LEGO characters and sets, come up with a fun storyline and use stop-motion techniques to produce a short animation film. It will transform the way they play at home and offer endless hours of creativity for the rest of the holidays.
6. Code a game
What is it?
Kids can design their own arcade-style video games (like Super Mario Bros), jam-packed with cool characters like zombies and unicorns, and awesome gaming features such as invisibility cloaks and shrinking potions. They’ll learn drag and drop code and logic to connect all the design elements together and bring their games to life!
Kids are spending countless hours on Roblox and Minecraft these days. Get them to spark their creative side instead, by producing their own original games, using a combination of creative level design, storytelling and problem-solving to bring their creations to life. It’s so much fun, they won’t realise they are actually learning some very important coding and tech skills for their future.