When they learn to code and create digital storytelling projects, children acquire skills that improve their writing, and they have fun in the process.
Coding is a New Medium for Imaginative Storytelling
A writer’s tools for telling a story include words and sentences. Coders have access to a more open-ended medium, including pictures, music, and animation in addition to words. The flexibility of programming even allows children to make their story react to audience input.
Writing a script in a story-based game forces kids to think through the exact details and consequences of how their characters act. They can’t be vague—they have to hone their ideas, an important skill that takes practice.
“3rd graders created stories with dialogue and lively characters in Tynker. They were so caught up in creating and narrating their stories, they didn’t even realize they were coding, writing, and crafting a compelling storyline at the same time.” —Kathy Bottaro, Digital Learning Program Coordinator, Sioux City Community School District, Iowa
Coding Reduces the “Blank Page” Syndrome
Creating a story-based game requires narrative pacing, compelling storylines, engaging dialogue, and an understanding of the audience. In short, it requires the same skills that some children struggle with when their English teacher hands out a creative writing assignment.
The difference is that staring at a blank sheet of paper often evokes panic, but programming offers multiple starting points.
When they code, kids start with one character, then experiment with dialogue, movement, and interactions. They build from there by adding other actors, scenes, and interactions. The program starts at the child’s point of interest and evolves to a final product through a process of experimentation and iteration. When coding, there is no “blank page,” only discrete problems to be solved.
Coding Teaches the Value of Concision
When kids first start coding, it takes them five lines of code to program a character to move across the screen. As they learn more programming concepts, like loops and conditional statements, they can condense that code to two lines. Children learn that the goal of coding—or of writing—is to leverage the tools at their disposal in the most powerful way possible to express ideas efficiently and directly.
These are the kids who will write a 650-word college application essay that gets them noticed.
Coding Teaches Planning and Organizing Skills
Programming and writing follow a similar process. When children start a coding project, they plan out the different functions they will need and how these functions will work together to make the project work. Likewise, to write an essay, they must organize their ideas into paragraphs and understand how the paragraphs fit together.
“Coding helps develop the organizational skills required for good writing. I encourage my students to plan their writing assignments by breaking down their topic, selecting the evidence they need, and sequencing their points in a compelling way. Some of the same skills are required when planning a video game. The more rigorous they are as they divide a large problem into components and organize tasks, the more successful they will be.” —Lucinda Ray, Educator and Writing Instructor
The interactive nature of programming makes challenging subjects more accessible. Whether your child loves to write or needs a bit of help, coding is a fun activity that will supplement their Language Arts education.
Tynker teaches children the basics of coding through interactive games, puzzles, and tutorials. This knowledge empowers them to easily program interactive stories and games and bring their ideas to life. Get them started today with Tynker!