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Let’s face it: reading lines of code on a screen or in a book can look like gibberish. When you see an example in action, that abstract concept suddenly makes perfect sense. That’s the beauty of interactive coding tutorials you can find around the web.

For example, FreeCodeCamp not only breaks down coding concepts into small chunks within your web browser, it also pairs each concept with a relevant exercise that you have to solve before moving onto the next topic. This way, you can’t just skip ahead to the fun stuff; the site really forces you to debug your code as you learn.

Illustration for article titled 14 Great Ways to Teach Yourself to Code

Screenshot: David Murphy

Coding games are also a fun way to get your feet wet in programming. If you have an hour to kill, you can give the simple Hour of Code games a try. Additionally, many schools already use the Minecraft: Educational Edition to teach kids programming basics with coding blocks, and even JavaScript. (You can download this version of Minecraft for free if you have an Office 365 Education account.)

Want a more complex game development tutorial that you can put on your resume? CodinGame might be more age-appropriate if you don’t feel like punching blocks all day long.

SLIDE #7Try a kid’s toy

Illustration for article titled 14 Great Ways to Teach Yourself to Code

Photo: ShutterStockStudio (Shutterstock)

Who says adults can’t learn from the same STEAM/STEM toys and video games that get kids hooked on coding? After all, these products are designed to teach coding logic and syntax without boring easily distracted children, so even adult coders might be able to find them fun and educational.

If you want to better understand the relationship between hardware and software, then you’d enjoy the Piper Computer Kit 2, which has you building a Raspberry Pi-powered computer. Using this DIY laptop, you can learn to code through its custom Minecraft Story Mode challenges, use the drag-and-drop Blockly language to learn physical computing, or just pick up some basic Python from the pre-installed lessons.

While you probably won’t be able to create your own BB-8 droid from Star Wars, you can learn to code one with Sphero’s BOLT. Using the companion app, you can control your droid ball using the drag-and-drop coding blocks called Scratch, or level up to JavaScript to program more advanced moves.

SLIDE #8Teach your favorite devices (and assistants) new tricks

Illustration for article titled 14 Great Ways to Teach Yourself to Code

Photo: beeboys (Shutterstock)

Do you have a smarthome device like the Amazon Echo? You can put your coding skills to the test by creating customized mini-programs to get more functionality out of your devices’ digital assistants. Amazon’s Alexa may already know many basic voice-command “skills,” like reading the latest news headlines, but you can teach her more complicated tasks by coding in Node.js, Java, Python, C#, or Go. (Or, if you want to start with something easier, try the simpler Alexa skill blueprints site.)

It’s possible that your interest in coding is more limited—you might just want to learn enough Python to make your Raspberry Pi do cool projects, for example. If so, you can adopt a DIY approach to learning by checking out the many projects others share on its website.

By recreating existing projects, you’ll learn more about the inner workings of your highly customizable device. You might even find yourself inspired to create new ways to use your mini-computer and delve further into the world of code. (You can even enroll in UC Irvine’s The Raspberry Pi Platform and Python Programming for the Raspberry Pi Platform class through Coursera, if you want a little help getting started.)

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