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Computer Classes for Kids, by Gretchen Caserotti

Are you looking to offer computer classes for kids at your library? In the interest of helping make your program development simpler, here are some tips and resources that I’ve compiled from my own experience.

When I was teaching our preschool (collaborative) computer class at Darien Library, I put together a website with the lesson plans and resources. It is older now (technology changes so fast!), but it may be useful to your program and goals. They are still teaching the Little Clickers class at Darien Library, though the lesson plans have changed as other librarians teach the class now.

Things I found that worked:

  • smaller class size, co-engagement with parent/caregiver (not a drop-off storytime)
  • starting program in circle away from computers, conceptualize first, then to the screens
  • keeping it parallel to storytimes in length and structure (30 min with time to play after class)

Last summer I organized a CoderDojo (computer programming club) for older kids (9-12) which was super fun to do! We had a teen who helped teach the classes, and there are tons of resources online for teaching kids to code. I put all the links for sites I used in research or in class on my diigo page.

I have found with older kids that a formal classroom environment is more difficult because they’re in school all day and want to be done with being taught!  In my experience, the more playful the program is in a public library, the better.

If you don’t have a computer lab available, programs can certainly still be done using laptops or tablets. If you create a regular program and call it something generic, you can change the tool you play with each time. Pick a new website/app to explore and just have fun with it. I do caution you to make sure to try and test out the tool well first. That way there are no surprises. Kerpoof is a good website to start with because it offers so many different types of guided activities. I also would suggest starting with Scratch, and there are HUNDREDS of resources online with lessons/tutorials.

I would love to hear how other libraries teach computer classes. Chime in in the comments!

Gretchen Caserotti is the Library Director at Meridian Library District. This post is repurposed, with the author’s permission, from a response to an alsc-l thread about computer classes for kids in the library.