Top 5: Programming in preschool and elementary education

As you all know, the approach of a new year is often synonymous with reviews and retrospectives. In these times of merrymaking and well-deserved festivities, the École branchée therefore offers you various applications and websites that have stood out for their added educational value, their targeted feedback and their adapted playability.

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We also like to discover new sites and new apps! Check out our past "tops" here to make great discoveries!

As you all know, the approach of a new year is often synonymous with reviews and retrospectives. In these times of merrymaking and well-deserved festivities, the École branchée therefore offers you various applications and websites that have stood out for their added educational value, their targeted feedback and their adapted playability.

The first “top 5” proposed is one in preschool and elementary programming:

1- Scratch (Web) and ScratchJr (iOS, Android): Scratch is one of the languages of most accessible programming for children and it is not for nothing that it has been so popular in schools for a few years now. Creating stories, games and animations of all kinds, SratchJr (between 5 and 7 years old) and Scratch (from 8 years old) are essential in the holding of multidisciplinary projects. Write, solve, resonate, communicate, build, read, create and… program. Children will find all the excuses to embark on a Scratch adventure again!

In addition to Scratch, the website Junior Campus will allow students to have a virtual teaching aid in the company of Sam, Zoe and Misso. Junior Campus therefore offers a "step by step" course that will help learners to familiarize themselves with Scratch. Several explanatory videos as well as missions are offered to them in order to accumulate points and badges. A whole community is present on the Junior Campus; young people can therefore share their achievements with other schools and create projects in collaboration with their friends.

2- Swift Playgrounds (iOS): Another programming language accessible to younger people is Swift. From 8 years old, students will feel at ease in the world of Playgrounds, created by Apple. They will advance from challenge to challenge, guiding a character in very aesthetic and fun 3D worlds. Learners will also be able to create their own projects and thus develop their computational thinking. In addition, Swift programming offers the ability to control robots such as Dash, Sphero, LEGO MINDSTROMS EV3, Parrot or Meebot.

3- Studio Code (Web): This resource puts online a variety of courses created through code.org, as Hour of code (also recommended). Several hours of “coding” are therefore available for the students to have fun while learning programming. Minecraft, Star Wars, Moana, Frozen, all the favorite themes of children go there to make learning the code fun and motivating. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 will easily find something to suit their size in these free and scalable classes attended by millions of children in over 180 countries.

4- Tynker (iOS, Android): This app is another must-have tool for school programming. Whether it's creating their own games or learning the basics of code (similar to Scratch) through already existing games, students will develop a host of skills essential for the jobs of tomorrow. In the creation part, learners will appreciate being able to modify the code of a game already present and to see the repercussions of the changes made in the gameplay. Students will also be able to explore several worlds where they will have to perform certain actions by programming the appropriate code in each situation. Playful characters, enchanting scenery, intuitive controls and amazing progression, students will always want to go further in their learning.

5- Box Island (iOS, Android): Kindergarten to Grade 6 students love a challenge offered by the Box Island app. Although some levels appear rather simple at the beginning, the degree of difficulty increases quickly and it is not without help that the little ones will be able to reach the end of all the levels. Young people appreciate the fun side and the activities that transport them to a desert island in search of their friend. With increasingly difficult movements as they advance on the island, students will have to avoid monsters, collect seashells and find Hiro without falling into the water.

Other apps worth mentioning: Lightbot Hour, Kodable, RunMarco, Coding Safari, Code-a-pillar, Hopscotch, Algoblocs.

Stay tuned for the next top École branchée. Among other things, it will be a question of the best applications in French, in mathematics and those that facilitate classroom management.

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About the Author

Maxime Laflamme
Maxime Laflamme is an educational advisor and project manager at École branchée. He is also editor-in-chief of the SCOOP! Educational guides. He has a bachelor's degree in preschool education and elementary education from the University of Sherbrooke and is pursuing a graduate degree in school management at Laval University. He transmits his passion for digital education and innovative practices through CréaCamps, conferences and workshops throughout the French-speaking world.

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