Our Coding Club at the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) has been jam packed with kids in grades 3-6 ever since its inception last year. We have used Scratch, Code Academy, Code.org and all the others you have heard of, but I sensed the kids were getting a little bored of the programs they’ve been used to using. After hosting an amazing Intro to HTML session taught by a member of the Central NY chapter of Girls in Tech at the library for high school students and adults, I decided these kids were more than capable of learning basic HTML.
I used a basic PowerPoint shared by Dee Cater who gave the HTML course for adults and teens, and used the free tutorial on the Girl Develop IT website to introduce kids to the history of HTML, its significance and how the web actually works. We wrote our code using Mozilla Thimble which is a free website that allows you to write code and see the results side by side. It is a great way to visually show how building a website works. Thimble also does a great job highlighting where your errors are. If you right bad code a red exclamation point will appear with a suggestion on how to fix it.
Basic HTML is extremely easy to learn and with a plethora of free resources on the Internet you can learn enough and feel confident about it to teach young kids how to make their own basic websites. The excitement is there from the kids, the moment you mention they can make their own website from scratch. They will jump for joy asking if they can really make a fan page for “Five Nights at Freddy’s” or whatever else they are into at that moment and you can tell them, “Yes, you can”!
So far we have learned how the web works, how to create a heading, paragraph, line breaks, formatted text, images, lists and links. I created a fake webpage that the kids will have to recreate before going on to make their own webpage. This is to make sure they understand the basics and it is good practice. Depending on how well this goes we will teach them basic CSS in our next series.
The outcome of this program is so valuable. We now have 16 kids in grades 3-6 who understand and know the fundamentals of creating websites. They have been so engaged throughout this series that they have been working on their code at home with their families. This is a 21st century skill that will benefit these students as they continue to learn. All of them now are viewing source code on all of their favorite websites and learning to create instead of consume, which is always a goal of ours at the FFL.
Remember, you do not have to be an expert at web design or code to teach a basic HTML class. Take a couple hours and refresh or teach yourself the basics and in no time you will be able to teach HTML to students and the outcome will be well worth it!
Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at email@example.com