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Pros: Remixable starter projects along with immediate, visual coding feedback guide students toward more sophisticated creations.
Cons: Without any direct instruction, the text-heavy code could discourage some students from jumping in or staying engaged.
Bottom Line: Thimble is an excellent, free resource for teaching students to code through experimentation.
Teachers can use Thimble to help students code and show what they've learned through code. However, some teachers may want to provide students with additional lessons and resources outside of Thimble. Mozilla provides other Web tools through the Mozilla Learning Network, all of which could be excellent to use in the classroom. Learning to write HTML for Web pages requires a lot of close reading and attention to grammar and syntax. Modeling how to read and write code is a great way for teachers to communicate to students the importance of analysis and care in reading and writing.
As Web pages, in general, are containers for content, Thimble can offer teachers and students a new place to host multimedia projects, research, or writings. Thimble gives educators and kids an authentic way to publish content-based work. As students become more experienced with HTML through Thimble, teachers will also find that students are ready to create their own free and open multimedia pages and Web portfolios, reducing the need for expensive and "closed" (not remixable) technology purchases for the classroom.
Editor's Note: Thimble is no longer available, and Mozilla is now directing users to the Glitch platform.
Thimble is an online Web page editor and set of remixable projects designed to help students learn how to write the Web. The Web-based program displays two windows at once to show students how the code they write creates the pages they see on a browser. As students edit code in the left window, the changes they make to things such as color, font, and images immediately take effect on the right.
Template projects and teacher supports help bring the often complex code to life quickly. Thimble also lets students compose their own Web pages from scratch, when they're ready to work independently. Using Thimble lets kids experience the joy of discovering that they, too, can create and publish Web pages using authentic code.
Because it's designed to show students how their actions can change the way a Web page looks, Thimble is a great place to get practice with coding, Web design, and problem-solving skills. However, it's important to note that Thimble isn't a resource for direct HTML instruction. This is great for some students, especially those who learn well through experimentation. However, some other students may want a more direct approach, with outside lessons on the specifics of HTML syntax. See Mozilla's Teaching Activities for more support.
For those students who are happy to play and experiment with Web design and remixing projects, Thimble does have supports in place, especially through the online community. As a free, open, and well-supported platform, such as Scratch, Thimble provides one of the most inviting and supportive environments available for students who want to join the learn-to-code movement in an experiential way.