Learning any new skill from cooking to coding can at first feel daunting. Starting with the basics and following one direction at a time can help to carve out a clear path forward.
Nothing can replace the satisfaction of working hard to create something amazing. Kids (and adults) take pride in mastering a new skill, whether it’s learning to cook their favourite meal or building a fun game with code. The feeling of accomplishment can motivate kids to keep progressing forward in their learning and take more risks. Learn the similarities between learning to cook and learning to code and you’ll see how anyone can learn to code.
Starting with the Basics: Find a Recipe or Code Project
When first learning to cook, kids should set a goal for themselves. For example, if they're tired of eating sandwiches for lunch a goal could be to make their own lunches over the summer holidays. Have them make a list of all of the lunches they want to make in order of difficulty. Then have them start with more basic lunch recipes and gradually grow their cooking skills from there.
Similar to cooking, kids learn to code best when they have a goal in mind. If your child wants to learn how to code their own games, they’ll first need to learn the basics of coding. They’ll start with learning what functions, variables, loops and conditional statements are and how to use them. Then they’ll grow their coding skills out from there.
Start Small: Follow Directions One Step at a Time
Does your child like macaroni and cheese? If so, have them start with a recipe from a box of mac and cheese. They don't need to know how to cook to give it a try, they'll just need to know how to read and follow directions. Guide them in setting out everything they'll need for the recipe (pot with water in it, milk, butter, box of mac and cheese) and then walk them through each direction one step at a time.
Learning to code with Hatch Studio is similar to following a recipe. Every Hatch Studio project is a recipe to build something with code. The projects start small, with only a few lines of code and break down the code step by step, line by line. Kids can choose from over 350 themes of projects and follow the directions to type the code.
The basic concepts of coding are gradually introduced to them, one project at a time. In one of Hatch Studio’s beginner projects, Hold a Ball, students are introduced to a function, the RGB colour codes and a command to draw a shape. They type the code that they see in the instructions to create a ball that they can move around in their canvas with their mouse. Seeing a blank canvas come to life as they type out the code can give kids the spark needed to learn more.
Have your child code a beginner project! All they have to do is read and follow the instructions. And in no time they’ll have a personalized version of their own Hold a Ball project.
Swap Out the Ingredients: Make it Their Own
Once your child gains confidence with their mac and cheese cooking skills, encourage them to give it some pizazz. They can experiment with different toppings and additions - hotdogs, bacon, chicken nuggets, pickles, or more cheese. Whatever their taste buds prefer, the pantry and fridge are the limit! Let them have fun with their creations, as nothing tried is nothing gained.
With code projects, changing the code can be like tweaking a recipe to give it your own creative flair. It might be satisfying to complete a project like Hold a Ball but the real fun happens in the challenges that accompany each project. In the Hold a Ball challenges students learn how to change the colour of the ball and background, create a second ball and turn the ball into a smiley face. Students are encouraged to add their own creativity to every project and get additional creativity points when they do.
One of our Hatch Coding students who loves to spend time cooking with her mother took all of her coding skills to create her own project - A Cookbook. Explore her recipes (and her code) and see how kids can build anything they’re passionate about with code!
To see all of her recipes and try one out, see her full Cookbook.
Ask for Help: Learn from Their Mistakes
Have you ever followed one of your Mom or Grandmother's famous recipes to only have it result in a bust? And did you call them for help to discover that you somehow missed an important detail? We've all been there and there's no shame in asking for help. Maybe you accidentally baked with salted butter but now you've learned from this mistake. Your kids are going to miss steps and make mistakes in their cooking just like anyone would learning a new skill. The key is that they learn from them.
When kids learn to code they’re going to make mistakes and they can get frustrated by them. That’s okay and all part of the process. Hatch Studio projects have a built-in debug and help feature. If there’s an error in a student’s line of code, an alert will appear and they can hover over the alert to discover what the error is. This is a great way for students to learn from common coding errors, like forgetting to close out a line of code with a semicolon. And if students get really stuck in their code, they can chat with our help bot to get the answers they’re searching for or ask their coach for help.
Keep Practicing and Have Fun!
Every recipe kids learn will only get better the more they practice doing it. They’ll get more confident in their cooking skills and can have fun experimenting with new ways to change it up. The same goes for coding. As kids gain more coding knowledge and complete more and more projects and challenges, the more comfortable they’ll be using functions, variables and loops in their code. Once they can more confidently turn their ideas into code, they can surprise you with all that they can build with it.
Explore how this Hatch Coding Coach uses cooking metaphors to teach kids how to read and write code in our program. To see if Hatch Coding could be a good fit for your child’s coding journey, sign up for our two-week free trial.