Learn to Code

There's never been a better time to start coding! With so many online tools available, it can be hard to know what's best for you. That's why we've put together a list of some of our favorite resources for students, educators, and makers of all ages. Whether you're a total novice or coding veteran, you're sure to find something that takes your curiosity to the next level!

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Great for All Ages
 

These are some excellent tools for new coders of all ages, plus those who are always looking for bigger challenges and projects! Want to try coding with blocks or text? Online or offline? Making games or physical computing? However you decide to get started, there's no limit to what you can create!

Code.org

Kids and adults can try Hour of Code activities - quick and fun one-hour tutorials to get you started on your coding adventure. Then move on to full online courses in game design, computer drawing, or app/website building. Learn a variety of block- and text-based programming languages like JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and more.  
TEACHER TIP: Browse entire courses for Elementary, Middle, and High school levels, plus other tools and tips for your classroom. Don't forget to sign up for an upcoming CS Fundamentals training at Living Computers: Museum + Labs (including STEM Clock Hours)!

Microsoft MakeCode

Bring computer science to life with both block and text editors for learners at all levels. Build programs directly in your web browser or install apps to keep coding offline. Download your programs to see them run on real hardware like micro:bit or Circuity Playground Express, or use built-in simulators to get a live preview on your screen!

BBC micro:bit

A single-board microcontroller created in the UK with tons of fun features like lights, buttons, sensors, and even wireless radio messaging. Explore a huge library of online projects you can modify or draw inspiration from!  
TEACHER TIP: You can setup an entire coding class online in minutes with micro:bit Classroom! Distribute code to your class, see students' live progress, and save and resume class work, all without needing to register an account.

Circuit Playground Express

A great beginner board designed by Adafruit with 10 programmable colored lights; plus motion, temperature, light, and sound sensors; a built-in speaker; and infrared signalling. Start programming with MakeCode's blocks, or use CircuitPython - a programming language made for easy experimenting and learning on low-cost microcontroller boards.  
TEACHER TIP: Did you know Circuit Playground is the core tool used in Code.org's CS Discoveries (Gr 6-10) unit on Physical Computing? You can find more tips on using it in your classroom on Code.org's website - qualified teachers can even request an equipment subsidy.

MakeCode Arcade

Ready to take your gaming to the next level? Create your own custom retro video games that can be played online or downloaded to a low-cost handheld gaming board. Built on Microsoft's user-friendly block- or text-based coding platform, MakeCode Arcade puts the power of game design in the palm of your hand!

MakeCode for Minecraft

Are you ready to mod? Program your own modifications, or "mods," to add a whole new dimension to your favorite block building game. Create your own mini-games, automated builds, and change gameplay behavior in real time, all from your web browser! Building new worlds has never been easier, and with Microsoft's MadeCode platform, you have your choice of block coding, JavaScript, or Python for all of your modding creations.  
TEACHER TIPMinecraft: Education Edition is now available through June 2020 for all educators and learners with a valid Office 365 Education account. Minecraft Education offers tons of other resources for teachers, including a semester-long Intro to CS course for middle school.

Scratch

Developed by the MIT Media Lab and available in over 70 languages, Scratch has been inspiring new coders young and old for over 13 years. Scratch 3.0 is the latest version of this block-based game design tool, and is free to use online or as a downloaded app. Even young kids (age 5-7) can start becoming code literate now with ScratchJr.


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Makey Makey

Turn anything into a keyboard! Whether you want to make your own cardboard gamepad, a banana instrument, or a cat photo booth, Makey Makey lets you craft while you code. Just plug it into a USB port and connect alligator clips to everyday objects to mimic your keyboard. Use your new inventions to play games you've built in Scratch or any other program. The new Makey Makey GO is just as powerful and small enough to fit on your keychain!  
TEACHER TIP: Download lesson plans, lead a workshop, or become a Certified Makey Makey Educator by attending a one day (5 hour) workshop that will leave you with a free Makey Makey and a certificate of completion.

Workbench

Google's project-based learning platform that lets teachers and students create, customize, and share block-based coding lessons using the Blockly coding platform. Browse a huge library of online lessons that integrate with featured hardware like SAM Labs, micro:bit, Sphero, littleBits, and more.
 
TEACHER TIP: You can create classes in Workbench that automatically sync with Google Classroom or Clever. Keep a record of student work with built-in Student Portfolios, easily upload rosters, and access standards-aligned lessons for your classroom! They even offer district-wide options to support content-sharing, professional development, and other administrator tools.

Ozobot

A tiny toy robot that can be coded online or entirely screen-free with marker-drawn lines and color codes. Ozobot has built-in light sensors that allow it to follow lines on a table, change colors based on its surface, or perform maneuvers like "backwalk" and "tornado" through colored square patterns. You can also create full programs in OzoBlockly, based on Google's block-based coding language. A great choice for families with young children (Kindergarten and up)!
TEACHER TIP: Apply to become an Ozobot Certified Educator to get a FREE 12-bot classroom kit, plus other swag and professional growth opportunities. Get started by signing up for a free Ozobot Classroom account (which integrates with Google Classroom), and create and share new lessons with the online community.

SAM Labs

App-enabled construction blocks that wirelessly connect to your computer and to each other to make innovative STEAM projects that interact with the real world! Learn to code with the easy-to-use, flow-based SAM Space app or explore lessons that integrate with Google Workbench and micro:bit.
TEACHER TIP: SAM Labs' STEAM course is a suite of standards-aligned lessons for K-5 classrooms and provide everything you need to implement STEAM in your classroom. They also have Educational Consultants throughout the country who are ready to help with teacher and tech support. Be sure to register for an upcoming SAM Labs training at Living Computers!

Sphero

Sphero is a durable, programmable robot ball that lets you learn through play. Control it remotely with the Sphero Play app to drive through obstacle courses, play golf, or even drive with your face! Variations like the Sphero Mini and new RVR programmable robot give you plenty of ways to play! Recommended for students 8 and up.
TEACHER TIP: Sphero offers virtual and on-site training, plus their own CS Foundations curriculum, to help you bring the bots to your class. If you're already using Sphero in your classroom, you can apply to become a Sphero Lead Educator to gain professional certification and help to spread Sphero learning around the world! Also make sure to get the Sphero Edu app.
 
 

Great for Deeper Dives
 

These options are perfect for those who have a few projects under their belt, or are looking for even more ways to bring computer science into their hobbies or careers. Whether you want to be a software developer, a hardware engineer, or a digital artist, these tools will give you some serious skills and might even uncover some interests you never knew you had!

Arduino

An open-source platform for building DIY electronics projects that has become a staple in global education and maker communities. It has its own free software (Arduino IDE) and uses a simplified version of the C++ programming language. Boards come in all shapes and sizes, but Uno is the most popular and can easily control inputs and outputs through its connector pins, or attach to a breadboard for more advanced circuits.
TEACHER TIP: Teachers can become certified Arduino Educators by taking the Arduino Fundamentals exam online. At $30 per attempt, it's an affordable way to start building your CS teaching credentials remotely! Reach out to your school or district to see if they can help offset the fee to support your continued professional learning.

Raspberry Pi

A $35 computer that fits in your pocket! Unlike the other boards listed here, Raspberry Pi is a full-on computer - you can browse the internet, play videos, make spreadsheets, and play video games. But the Pi's super power is its GPIO pins (General Purpose Input/Output) that let you connect lights, motors, breadboards, and other physical computing devices. It runs its own operating system called Raspian, which can be freely downloaded onto a microSD memory card. You'll need a few other pieces to get started (HDMI cable + monitor, USB mouse + keyboard, power cable), but once you're powered up there's no limit to what you can make!
TEACHER TIP: You can become a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator by attending a 2-day training called Picademy. There are a handful of new Picademy sites announced nation-wide each summer, and Living Computers was one of the first sites selected in 2018! Now we're one of the only official training partners of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, so check back soon for new training opportunities we have to offer!

EarSketch

Ready to drop some beats? Create, edit and share your own custom music tracks using Python or JavaScript! Created by Georgia Tech, EarSketch teaches you how to code through music composing and remixing. Get started with a full library of pre-loaded audio clips or record your own. You can even collaborate with other artists by easily sharing and downloading any tracks you make.

TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a free browser-based app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. Create 3D printed objects like fidget spinners, build modified Minecraft worlds, or turn any 3D design into buildable brick models! And with their online circuit builder, you can simulate your own circuits using LEDs, resistors, breadboards, and even integrate with Arduino to see how components will respond in real life!