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Programming For Younger Kids ... And The Technically Challenged

Even young students can try their hand making a simple (and not so simple) programs and games. Here are options that allow you and your students to create an experience without any static allocate gorp() hieroglyphics.

Try them out.

larger image of http://armorgames.com/play/2205/light-bot

image of http://armorgames.com/play/2205/light-bot

Light-Bot

This simple on-line "game" makes a great introduction for younger kids and teaches simple programming techniques. Drag and drop commands to help the robot complete a challenge. These same basic techniques are used to control many industrial robots. (Click the "Play" button under the ad to start the game.)

Scratch 2.0 overview

A video introduction produced by Paula Aguilera and the Scratch Team at the MIT Media Lab.

YouTube URL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAsb2LVnNcY
larger image of https://scratch.mit.edu/

image of https://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch

Scratch is an educational programming language and multimedia authoring tool developed at MIT. It can be used by pupils, teachers, and parents for a range of educational and entertainment projects. Includes a section for teachers explaining the language and the site.

A Number Guessing Game

Colleen Lewis has an extensive collection of YouTube videos on Scratch. This one shows how to get started with a simple guessing game. You can see how students can create something engaging by just assembling a few blocks.

YouTube URL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IgVmUzdwDw

The only problem with sites like these is that, all to quickly, the students are teaching the teacher.

Have your students use Scratch or Alice to create a simple interactive presentation on a current class topic.

larger image of http://www.alice.org/index.php

image of http://www.alice.org/index.php

Alice - 3D programming

Think of Alice like a 3D animated version of Scratch. Alice is freely available 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games.

Alice allows students to immediately see how their animation programs run, enabling them to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation. By manipulating the objects in their virtual world, students gain experience with all the programming constructs typically taught in an introductory programming course.

How to make a game in ALICE

This video gives you an idea of the steps needed to create a simple game or animation in Alice. It shows how to add objects, control movement and trigger changes. It also shows how having instant feedback allows you to see when things start going wrong and make adjustments.

YouTube URL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6QVAgaT0_0
larger image of http://marshallbrain.com/kids-programming.htm

image of http://marshallbrain.com/kids-programming.htm

Teaching kids how to write computer programs

Marshall Brain looks at a number of different options for teaching kids about programming, from simple games (like Light Bot and Magic Pen) to working with robots and smart phone applications.

Simple Kodu game tutorial

This video shows you how to crate a basic game using Kodu. By layering on simple commands, you can create complex games.

YouTube URL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-FjskAHgN0

For teachers with little/no computer experience, any of these programs would be a good place to start. Check out the tutorials on YouTube and give it a go. You may be surprised how easy it can be.

larger image of http://www.kodugamelab.com/

image of http://www.kodugamelab.com/

Kodu game maker

Kodu lets kids create games on a PC and Xbox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Where Alice can create animations and demonstrations as well as games, Kodu is focused on creating games. Great for young children, as well as older students and adults with no design or programming skills.

Sphero SPRK review

This review shows the Sphero SPRK Edition robot and SPRK app are a great introduction to robotics, coding, and STEM principles. The SPRK app lets kids give their robot orders with visual blocks representing code (like Spark) and later move on to Sphero's own C-based language called OVAL. Sphero's clear shell allows users to see the immediate connection between the program they created and how the guts of their Sphero work and react.

While not transparent, the Sphero 2.0 can use this same software and does not scratch as easily. You can control it using a less than $100 Android tablet.

YouTube URL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYUjLexsPvo

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