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Sundararajan's Weblog

Teaching programming to kids

Guest Author

I've been experimenting/playing
with programming tools for kids. I've two kids - 8 and 5 year old.



Scratch

Great multimedia rich introduction to programming for kids. My son keeps
playing with it! If you are after ease-of-use, this is probably the best
choice. Available for download on Mac and Windows. If you have
Squeak installed, you can get Scratch
running on Linux as well (possibly with some audio problems). It is possible
to export your Scratch projects as applets from your website

  • Website: http://scratch.mit.edu
  • Tutorials:
  • Examples/Repository: Register @ scratch.mit.edu to download lots of great samples!
    You can view scratch programs online if you have Java plugin installed.

EToys

EToys is an tool to teach children a multimedia rich authoring
environment and visual programming system. If you have OLPC laptop (or emulation environment for OLPC), it comes pre-installed with EToys. Or else you can download EToys for your
platform. It is avaliable for Linux, Mac and Windows.

StarLogoTNG

Although StarLogoTNG is described as "tool to create and understand simulations
of complex systems", it can be used as a tool to teach programming.
It supports 3D and it is cross-platform a (Java) tool.

Alice

This is an environment to teach programming in a 3D environment. This
is a cross-platform (Java) tool.

Turtle Art

Turtle Art activity
is bundled with OLPC.

If you don't have
OLPC, you can use an emulator environment. For example, you can download
VirtualBox and run OLPC inside
it following the steps here.
I run VirtualBox on Mac, Ubuntu and Windows XP.

Want to work with source code?

So far, we looked at visual programming tools. But, if you think it is better
to expose to source code ("they have to look at code at somepoint anyway, let them see syntax errors sooner"), then you may want to try these:



Greenfoot


From the site:
"Greenfoot as a combination between a framework for creating
two-dimensional grid assignments in Java and an integrated development
environment (class browser, editor, compiler, execution, etc.) suitable
for novice programmers". This is a cross-platform (Java) tool.

BotsInc

With Bots Inc we can learn how to program robots interactively. Language used
to program is Smalltalk (BotsInc is built with
Squeak). Since BotsInc is a Squeak image,
it possible to slowly graduate to full Smalltalk. It is available on
all platforms.

Alice 3 Beta

Alice 3 beta is hosted at
http://kenai.com/projects/alice/
. Alice 3 beta seems to have support to
emit NetBeans projects. I've
played with Alice 3 Beta - but not yet with NetBeans project support.

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