by Jennifer Apy
My mother always encouraged my sister, brother and me to make our own cards and gifts. She would remind us constantly that something handmade was more precious than store bought. So we’d cut up old cards to piece together new designs, and embellish them with handdrawn characters and script that became our signature elements. We’d bake our own cookies and pies, make candleholders to give as gifts for special people in our lives. We’d handwrite every birthday card and thank you note, with a personal touch that allowed our personalities to shine through.
To this day, I still believe “created by me” is the most powerful way to motivate children to be makers. Although in an era of busy schedules and inexpensive goods made overseas, it is easy to meet any need with a trip to the mall or a click on Amazon. Recently I read “Making Makers: Kids, Tools and the Future of Innovation” (AnnMarie Thomas), and it made me wonder if our society that thrives on instant gratification (“there’s an app for that!”) may also be causing our next generation to increasingly expect other people to solve problems for them. Need something? Just Google it. Or download it. Nowadays, kids seem less likely to spend time pondering a problem or solution themselves.
Every child is born an artist. – Picasso
But we can change this. Kids are natural creators. They love to make things. They also love their digital devices and video games. Parents can encourage the idea of creating in this digital language that kids are speaking with such fluency, by encouraging kids to code. Kids have the capacity to pick up on technology remarkably quickly. And they can create some incredible things that are interesting and exciting to them, that keep them wanting to “play”, like personalized, interactive greeting cards to share with their grandparents, a two player “snowball game” to play with their cousins at their next family gathering, or an elaborate interactive storybook for a younger sibling, where they can tell an original tale complete with music, narration and transitions. Each can be designed to cater to the likes and personalities of the recipient. There’s a joy, a wonder, an empowering sense of accomplishment when children share their creations and bring joy and entertainment to others.
Creating with code can be a wonderful opportunity to teach children what it means to give, and give something they made, while leveraging their natural interest in technology. There is a joy in creating, and a joy in giving that, especially during the holidays, is a great opportunity for parents and kids to engage in activities that captivate kids in a positive way. Let’s encourage our kids to make digital creations they’ll love giving this holiday season.
P.S. You can give a special child in your life the gift of learning to code. Just select “View Courses”, and after selecting a course, “Give a Gift”.
Does your child need a few ideas to get started? Play the game starters below — if kids click “Log in and Remix” and save the project to their Tynker account, they can customize the games any way they want!