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Teach kids to code: coding vocabulary for students

Teaching kids to code doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re moving into a teaching role which now expects knowledge of coding… don’t fret. In this list of coding vocabulary for students, we’ll provide a detailed glossary of coding words along with tips on how the words can be related to everyday language along with some unique words which relate only to the computer science world.

Be warned, this is not an exhaustive list. But the coding words we’ve included will kick-start you and your pupils’ journey into the exciting world of coding. Use it to help your own understanding or provide pupils with the list to expand their own use of coding language.


A simple version of something which is more complex


The ease of use for users around products, services, devices and programs. This includes limitations around compatibility with older technology or even the physical and mental disabilities of the user


A group of steps within a task


Computer language, information represented using only two options

Binary alphabet

The two options used in binary code (as above)


Single unit of information, usually shown as a 0 or a 1. The word is a shortened version of “binary digit”

Block-based programming language

Any language for programming that allows its users to drag ‘blocks’ rather than the traditional code writing method. The most popular example of this is today is Scratch. Can also be referred to as ‘drag-and-drop’ or ‘visual coding’


An error that prevents a program from running successfully or completing as planned


A measure of digital data, 8-bits go into a byte. Scaled up as kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB)


Digital information, the inputs and outputs of computers


Discovering and solving problems within algorithms and programs


Assessing and breaking a problem down into more manageable pieces

Define (function)

Understanding the detail within the problem that you’re trying to solve

Digital citizen

A safe, responsible, respectful user of the Internet

Digital footprint

Information that is found about individuals on the Internet

Domain Name Service (DNS)

The service that translates URLs into IP addresses


An action that causes something to happen in computing

Event handler

The most common is the mouse-click. Event-handler coding only comes to life when a certain action is performed by the user

For loop

A loop with a predetermined beginning and end which can be repeated if certain conditions are met


A piece of code that you can easily be called repeatedly

Function call

Added to a program to indicate that the program should run the code inside a function, at a certain time

Function definition

The code inside a function that instructs the program on what to do when the function is called

If statement

Engages ‘conditional statements’ within code or programs, a common programming structure


The term for giving information to a computer

Internet Protocol (IP) address

A unique number assigned to any piece of technology that is connected to the Internet


A repeated action, usually part of a programming loop


The action of doing something repeatedly

Call (variable)

Use a variable in a program

Call (function)

Code that’s added to a program to tell the program to run code inside a function at a certain time


The language used to tell computers what the user wants it to do


Commands that are strung together can make up algorithms and computer programs and are ultimately instructions for the computer

Computational thinking

Facing a problem so it can be modelled and solved by a computer. Made up of four key strategies: decomposition, pattern matching, abstraction, algorithms

Computer science

Using computing power and technology to solve problems


Statements that only run under certain conditions e.g true/false, if/then


Reaching out to a wider group of programmers/coders to complete a task quicker


Potentially upsetting or distressing acts performed against another person via the internet



The term for information which is given out by a computer


Smaller pieces of information that have been formed from larger pieces of information

Pattern matching

Finding similarities between code and actions


Additional information for a function to customise it for a particular need


A single point of digital colour or image. Contraction of “picture element”


An algorithm that has been coded and can be run by a computer or machine


The skill and job of creating a computer program

Run program

Action the computer to begin the commands that you’ve coded for it

Universal Resource Locator (URL)

A simplified way for calling a web page, also known as a web address


A placeholder made for a piece of code that is likely to change

While loop

A loop that continues to repeat while a condition is ‘true’.


A digital working place where you would write code or perform drag-and-drop coding

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<a href="" target="_self">Talitha McLachlan</a>

Talitha McLachlan

Hope Education writer

Talitha worked as a primary and secondary teacher for 9 years before turning her hand to writing. She is passionate about effective education of children and supporting teachers to do this. In her free time, Talitha enjoys sewing, films, and spending time with her two cats.

2 July 2020

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