Teaching coding to a 5 and 8 year old

Like much of the world, were on lockdown which means I’m schooling my 5 and 8 year old much of the time at home. This is mostly because I can do my radiology reporting from home early morning and late evening on most days.

I want to introduce the girls to coding. I’ve started with the iPad Swift Playgrounds app and they seem to be enjoying it. I was just wondering if any other parents have any thoughts about getting young kids into coding.

Playgrounds are AWESOME because they couched a lot of it in terms of a game
So it appeals to kids
But they kind of stop at a certain level and the gap between “hey I finished the game” and “how do I make an application” is pretty wide

TBH Xojo is dead easy to introduce hem to because its visual and so they can SEE their progress really quickly and make something (unlike writing Hello World in C etc which is still a long way from there to making an app with a UI)

I’d say the biggest mistake most programming course s make is they teach a TOOL and not general purpose concepts
Loops are loops are loops - sure syntax varies but syntax is easy to look up mostly
But concepts like OO inheritance etc are portable

Being a “programmer” or a “developer” [I HATE the term “coder”] involves way more than learning a language (be it Swift, Python, Xojo or whatever). First and foremost, you need to be able to identify the “problem”, and determine what steps (and data) are required to solve that problem… Then and only then can a “tool” be applied to automate that solution.

I think you’re onto something @DaveS. Coding for coding sake is hard to encourage. There needs to be a goal. I think that’s where playgrounds is good because the kids can see a short term goal. The issue with playgrounds is as @npalardy describes - it’s a game really first and foremost. It doesn’t really help you build an app.

I did consider Xojo and a few months ago my then 7 year old and I made a really simple number guessing game which she seemed to enjoy. The problem was that kids mostly want to play games so I guess I’m looking for a game development app that’s not as complex as GameMaker but not quite as simple as Scratch. A very small a niche!

Do you remember Logo ?

Does anyone see any benefit (other than a learning experience) to develop a version of either LOGO or PILOT for modern day computers (or iPad)?

The coding playgrounds Apple has for Swift are a fun game BUT they just dont seem to go far enough with the game
And I’m sure that game metaphor only works up to a point

But when we visited a friend both their kids got right into it and blitzed along
Despite the kids being grounded from the iPads Mom was even ok with it because it was an “educational game”

I think regardless of the language the trick is how to have some kind of educational goals like that to motivate kids not just to dabble

EDIT : which in the end is “yes I do think there is a benefit”

When I read Emiles post, I remembered LOGO from days of yore… :slight_smile:
But are doing some reading… I’m thinking of replicating the ATARI PILOT with TURTLE GRAPHICS on the iPad… cuz I’m cooped up, and bored :slight_smile:

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You’re unique
Just like everyone else :stuck_out_tongue:

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Well I have the iPad editor almost done… So I can enter a PILOT program, load and save it… .can’t execute it yet …

here is where I found the docs I am basing this on


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geez the whole source is there
almost seems like just implementing a proper emulator would be a way to go

an Atari 800 emulator? nah… Its gonna be a Pilot Interpeter written in Swift…

Bet even so, it will be dozens of times faster than the Atari 800 ROM cart was :slight_smile:

Oh not wouldnt have to emulate the entire 800
I meant just if the PILOT code was going to be “compiled” - which I doubt is has to be to be fast enough - that emulating the 6502 and such wouldnt be so bad - its only got 256 instructions and a lot are unused

EDIT : not so bad - maybe 2 hours worth of time and I can load code into the “memory” of the machine and am actually starting to execute the code on this page

Finding a really good 6502 reference took me a lot longer than anything else
This one is absolutely perfect as it details every instruction, how many bytes they take, and the status flags that get set etc

BTW I threw out an actual Atari 800 a few back! It had been a closet for many many years and I needed the space.