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…
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:
For example, the maze game requires that you write a program to walk the user through a map.
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
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:
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.
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.
Here’s the new version:
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
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
- Google Research Blog: Summer Games: Learn to Program
- Oracle Technology Network: Wombat Object Basics (Young Developers Series, Part 1)
- Oracle Technology Network: Wombat Object Basics (Young Developers Series, Part 2)
- Briggs.net: Snake Wrangling for Kids
- The Grand Fallacy: Enrichment class
- Jason R Briggs.com: Python for Kids
- OpenSource.com: How to teach the next generation of open source with Scratch
- Computer Science Education Week
- Engadget: BBC launches kid coding lessons as schools increase focus on computing
- BBC News: BBC begins kids coding push with Bitesize and TV shows
- The Oracle Alchemist: Teach Your Children Well
- Oracle Academy