Spare RasPi to Get Kids Coding




Hi, I'm Joe and this is my first Instructable.

I wanted to share how I got my son into coding with the Raspberry Pi. For some background he is a very tech heavy child and loves, loves, LOVES his video games. It only took me telling him that he "could make his own games with his own rules" to sell him on the idea. I took what knowledge and resources I had and went to the only place I knew that could help me, Google. Searching with some key words like "coding" "kids" "Raspberry Pi" came up with mostly one resource, The Kano Computer. This is an excellent organization that wants to get kids into coding and has compiled an all-in-one kit to get them started. After reading that they use the Raspberry Pi (which I already had) and some other peripherals, I was in. Now, my sons interests are very important to me, but the kit sold by Kano is $150 and that's a pretty penny for me. So, this is the road I went down.

Step 1: Step 1: What You Need, You Know I Got It

The Kano kit comes with everything you need in one box. But, since I had the RasPi already and a few other things I thought I would give it a shot. After all, what did I have to lose if I already had most of the stuff. Here is a list of what I used:

Raspberry Pi 2 B 1GB - $35-$40

HDMI Cord - $5

WiFi Dongle - $10

Keyboard/Mouse Combination - $25

Micro USB to USB Cable - $5

USB power adapter - $6

8GB SD card - $6

Total - $90-$100 (prices based on the time of publishing this Instructable)

Alternatively, you could get a kit like this that includes everything you need except for the Keyboard/Mouse combo. Notably the cheaper option if you do in fact need everything listed.

But, if you are like me than you already have most of this stuff at home. The only thing I had to buy was another Raspberry Pi for reasons which shall remain anonymous (kids are rough). I left out a few things the Kano kit includes like a case for the Pi, a speaker, and some coding books. I found the speaker wasn't entirely necessary for most of the use of Kano. Who needs a case when you can build one out of Legos. And the Kano work instructions can be found on their website for free (scroll down to books).

Step 2: Step 2: Let's Get With the Program

Now, we'll need to get the Kano OS image onto an SD card. First you will need to download the image. Kano would prefer that you use their image burner for this, but I believe any image burner will do if you already have one. The Kano organization has a pretty complete set of instructions for doing this with their software on either Windows or a Mac. If you have a burner you already like then chances are you already know how to burn an image to an SD card already.

WARNING: Be sure you are burning the image to the SD card. Anything else could mess up your computer bad (as in no longer worky kind of bad).

Once you've got it all on the card we're ready to get rolling.

Step 3: Step 3: Fire It Up

Now the fun begins. Plug everything up to the Pi except for the power, that comes last.

SD card in

WiFi dongle in

Keyboard/Mouse USB receiver in

HDMI Cord in and connected to screen

Now, plug in the power and let the magic happen. You should see a basic text screen first with a few prompts. Username creation and diffusing a bomb (no, seriously). Then it will go into setting up your WiFi network and doing any updates it needs. This could take minutes to hours depending on the updates needed and the speed of your network. Finally onto the meat...

Step 4: Step 4: Kids Can Code Completely Companionless

There are some neat programs on the Kano OS. My son's favorite being the version of Minecraft specific for learning coding. You can place a few lines of code to make it build something without having to place the blocks. He's all about shortcuts so he loves that. It also comes with Pong and Snake, both of which have the option to code your own rules for the game. There's also Scratch, which helps you to learn some basic lines of coding for doing simple tasks with images and audio. Everything on Kano is pretty self explanatory with the individual programs. They all provide steps on how to get started. There are new apps being released for it all the time, so it has a good way to grow with your child to keep them interested. If they are anything like mine they need a lot of new things to keep their interest. The possibilities are endless when you can code just about anything you want.

I know this Instructable isn't much on the creative side of things with the Raspberry Pi, but I thought it would be good to get it on here to help encourage people to get their kids into coding. When you have people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg encouraging kids to code because they'll be in such demand in the future, you know it can't be too bad of a hobby for some kids to get in to. My hope is to have my son making apps for me in a couple of years to make us rich! Just kidding, I just want him to learn and have fun doing it. So far, it's been working!

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Raspberry Pi Contest 2016

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    5 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hi: We got this for our son for Christmas and he loved putting it together. The problem is that I am not tech-savvy, so don't really know where to go from here. We don't really want to join the online KANO club, but my son is very interested in learning more programming, especially Java. Do you have any recommendations? Most of the classes (in person) are for older kids.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi GinaH16,
    I can say that the Kano online community is very friendly and inviting. But, I completely understand any reservations one might have of letting their child join a virtualy unrestricted online community. There are some great parental controls on Kano, but there is always the possibilty of unwanted information seeping through.

    For my son I bought an additonal book at the local Barnes & Noble for a few bucks about coding in Scratch. I've seen others for Java as well, but I don't know the reading level required or the age of your young one. If you find a book for Java coding you like then you might need to read through some of it with him, but if the interest is there he should jump right into it. Look into these links here and see if any are what you might be looking for:


    3 years ago

    This is so fantastic. Thank you so much. I just found your instructable, & am bookmarking it because since we've had kids, my husband & I feel like we've missed about a thousand years technologically. Those are like dog years. Anyway, I feel like we need to ease back into it with something, while learning about what are kids will be learning, or what we may be teaching if we can! So yours is so perfect, everything costs so much more with kids, so thanks so much, & hope your kid enjoys this too!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you for the comment. I can attest that Kano is a great tool for kids and adults to learn together. My son and I have had many days of fun learning this stuff together and creating. I wish the same for you and your family.


    Great project! I always love it when kids get started coding early.