Join David Gassner for an in-depth discussion in this video iPad apps for very young kids, part of Foundations of Programming: Programming for Kids.
To become a programmer, whether you're a kid or an adult, the first step is to learn the fundamentals. How to create instructions that computers can follow. If you were to try to teach a complete programming language like Java or Python to a kid as young as kindergarten or first grade, you're unlikely to get very far. And the child will most likely react with either frustration or indifference. At these young ages the child might just be getting started with reading, so complex written languages don't make very much sense.
But the most basic programming concepts can be taught and understood visually. Using a style known as graphical or block based programming. And for very young kids, there are some great apps built for Apple iPad tablets that use this style of programming. They let kids create simple animations of colorful graphics. Usually computer based drawings of animals or other friendly shapes. And they have environments that let the kids issue instructions to the shapes by dragging and dropping action blocks.
Making the graphics move, jump, and flip, and tracing paths on the screen. For very young children, graphical programming just makes sense. You tell the shape what to do, and it does it. It's easy for the kid to see the direct cause and effect, and understand that they can control what happens on the screen. So in this chapter, I will show you three such programming apps. All of which are available for iPads in the App Store. Daisy the Dinosaur, Move the Turtle, and Hopscotch.
I'll describe them in ascending order based on their relative complexity and power. The simplest of these apps has just a few commands to control simple movement. While the most advanced offers complete flow control with looping, conditionals, variables and other important programming concepts. It might sound difficult, but these apps make learning these concepts simple and fun. Now if you're an Android tablet owner, the news isn't so good at this point.
The sorts of graphical programming apps I'll show for the iPad, don't have Android equivalents so far. There are some interesting coding tools for Android tablets that can appeal to older kids, but for now, when we talk about programming apps for young kids, it's an iPad world.
- Understanding your child's learning style
- Graphical programming on iPads and computers
- Making things move
- Learning about algorithms
- Programming animations, apps, and games
- Programming virtual and real robots
- Programming hardware: Arduino and Raspberry Pi
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 11/10/2014. What changed?
A: We updated the "Programming Android apps: MIT App Inventor" video to incorporate new device footage, so you can see how the app performs on an Android phone.