Month: September 2014

Programming for Kids

Blockly Games caught my eye the other day and finally got me to pull together my notes on programming teaching tools for kids.  There are some really cool tools out there.  If you have a sphere of influence with kids whether they be your own or just ones who might listen, check out these resources…

Blockly Games

This is the tool that I just recently ran into.  The nice part is that it is web-based so you don’t have to install anything.  Also, it is puzzle based.  Instead of just giving kids something to explore, it gives them a challenge to try to accomplish.

Link: Blockly Games

The tool is made up of multiple games that motivate kids to explore and learn:

Blockly Games Menu

For example, the maze game requires that you write a program to walk the user through a map.

Blockly Games: Street Maze Game

Learn to Code

I found another very similar tool.  The one-up from a kids point of view: angry birds.  It looked very similar to the blocky games (in fact, I think it is the same library), but the character in the puzzle was an angry bird.  There’s also a nice little intro video to explain what is going on.

Link: Hour of Code

Alice

I’m not sure where I first heard about Alice, but it sounds like a pretty cool learning tool.  It uses a 3D interface, which makes it a bit heavier.  The download was 1.2G!

Link: Alice Homepage

Getting it working wasn’t hard at all.  I went to the Alice 3.1 Download Page.  After uncompressing the download, I ran:

[sourcecode]sh ./alice3.sh[/sourcecode]

That was for my Linux system.  For Windows, there is an Alice3.exe that you can run.

I think that I may have learned about Alice from this Google Tech Talk:

Wombat Object Basics

Oracle has a little tutorial for using Greenfoot.  It looks a little involved, and I haven’t been through it all yet.

Links:

Installing Greenfoot was pretty simple.  The download page has a deb package that I could use.  I simply installed it using the Ubuntu Software Center.

Snake Wrangling for Kids

This is a book that I came across a long time ago.  I haven’t ever delved into it, and now I find that there is a new version out on Amazon.

Link: Google Code Project (Old Version)

Here’s the new version:

Scratch

Scratch is an online tool.  It seems very similar to Blockly, but instead of puzzles and challenges, it is just a tool that lets kids explore.

Link: Scratch Website

RoboCode / RoboJS

A long time ago, I ran into this cool game.  It makes programming fun.  The idea is that you write a small program to control a virtual robot.  You pit your program / robot against others in a virtual arena.

Link: RoboCode Website

The original RoboCode requires Java and running a program from your PC.  I found another version that was ported to Javascript.  I’m not sure it is as complete as the original, but it allows you to play the same game in Javascript and a browser.

LinkRoboJS – Robocode in Javascript

You can check out the source code:

BBC Schools Computing

BBC has launched a website with various resources.  There’s a bunch to explore here, and I haven’t explored it all.

Link: BBC Schools Computing

PHP For Kids

This is more like a web development course.  You can go through the material and learn HTML, PHP, etc.

Link: PHP For Kids

Resources