Teaching my 5 year old daughter to code...

So I decided to try and teach my 5 year old daughter some basic logical thinking and development principals.

My little girl's shown a keen interest in what I do for a job amongst other things recently. She's a great reader and writer for her age and so I started looking around for a simple scripting language or similar that I could teacher her.

Now the thing to remember about kids is this, no matter how smart they are they all have the attention span of a gnat! 3 seconds max, if it's not interesting then they're not interested, period! This limited my scope significantly. I initially looked at Logo and Phrogram but they seemed a little to advanced for using right now with no discernible reward without putting in a lot of initial effort. Then I stumbled on RoboMind. This seemed like the perfect choice. Simple syntax, you can do some really rewarding stuff with just a few commands (7 to be precise; paintWhite, stopPainting, forward, backward, left, right, repeat), beautifully designed to capture a child's interest, and most important for testing out a child's interest in something - it's free for personal use!

I spent the next 45 minutes talking to her about how to make the robot move, at first she thought it was a game and that she had to click on stuff but she quickly got the hang of it. Learning the basic syntax was challenging for her, but fun and rewarding.

Here she is trying to figure out how many squares to make the on-screen robot move. We wrote a very simple script to make the robot draw a pyramid (apparently the initial script that gets loaded draws a square and that's just too "boring"), and as expected there were one or two bugs introduced by my daughter miscounting or confusing left and right. She had more fun debugging the code than she did writing it.

This is the program before script execution.

This is the program after execution.

In total I spent a good hour going through stuff with her, helping her out and debugging the code with her to produce this. Not bad for a first attempt if I do say so myself. It seems to have caught her interest and has made her very keen to learn more.

October 4, 2012 |
Tags : Technology Web Development

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About Me

Garry Welding Tried my hand at the start-up scene with 650hours and I'm a maintainer of a few of my own open-source projects. For now I'm now taking it easy working a cushy employee lifestyle with Mamas & Papas, one of the largest children's retailers in the UK.