Are you looking for ways to get your kids interested in computer science? Here’s the good news: You don’t have to wait until they are in high school before exposing them to programming. Matter of fact, you can start them off fairly young. We’ve written on this subject before, but we thought you guys would appreciate a list dedicated to doing just that. Start them off with a basic logic game and move on up to a full-fledged Python developer. They’re ordered by age/experience level, so you should be able to get a good idea of where to start.
1. Logik Street
We got a chance to play this game at Toy Fair 2013. Right away, it was clear that this was going to be the perfect tool for introducing logical problem solving to kids. The game utilizes Boolean logic and forces children to solve problems the way you would code a program. It is great for preschoolers, but should be fun for older kids as well. If you are looking for Step 1 to introducing your kid to principles of computer science, then this is it. Created by the same company that gave us Dixit, Asmodee is one of the most unique game publishers on the market. You can order the game at CoolStuffInc.
2. Move The Turtle APP
Once your child has mastered Logik Street, give them a tablet with this app. We’ve reviewed Move The Turtle in another article, but it would be a crime to not include it in this list. Aimed at those of you who want your kids to get an early start on the fundamentals of programming, this app is the one. The mechanics are simple: Issue commands to move the turtle and complete goals. All the commands are done in steps and work in a sequence. After a few hours your kid will be creating their own little programs. You can purchase it in iTunes.
3. Super Scratch Programming Adventure
Now that your offspring have got their hands dirty, it is time to increase the difficulty. Things get a bit more serious with Super Scratch Programming Adventure. This full-color comic book teaches basic programming concepts using the easy to learn Scratch language. They’ll be learning how to make games in a single afternoon and craving more knowledge.
Check out this video with an amazing soundtrack.
At this point your child is going to have all the fundamentals down and be ready to conquer Python. This is where we reach a fork in the road. The next three books both teach Python and are on about the same level. Choose wisely.
4. Python For Kids
Now things are serious. Your elementarian is starting real applicable programming language. Suggested for kids 10 and older, Python For Kids offers 344 pages of knowledge, puzzles and full-color illustrations. You can even use the Raspberry Pi with the book. Mixing education and entertainment is the perfect formula for programming success. Don’t think for one moment this book is just for kids; adults will find this to be a great introduction to Python as well.
5. Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners 2nd Edition
We covered the first edition of Hello World! in an earlier article. Now we’re happy to find that a second edition is on the horizon. Written by a father-and-son team, this book delves into the basics of programming, drawing upon examples and illustrations. Its use of Python helps the reader get a grasp on not just the fundamentals of coding, but also of more complex issues. It’s due out soon and can be ordered from Amazon.
6. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition
Nothing is going to get your child more interested in programming than instructing them on game design. Let’s be honest: No kid fantasizes that one day they will write code for an accounting firm. Booooooorrrrriiinng. They want to make the next MineCraft. That’s where Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python comes in. The first half of the book teaches the fundamentals of Python, variables, if-then statements, loops, but your soon-to-be-coding-wizard will be executing simple games and discovering a whole new world of smart fun in no time.
7. Robo Rally
Let’s take a break from learning about Python and have a good time. From the creator of Magic the Gathering, Robo Rally is a challenging robot racing game that uses logical problem solving and coded directions to get past deadly obstacles in an industrial factory. You draw nine cards describing movement commands and choose the best five to direct your robot through this sinister labyrinth of doom. The game gets quite chaotic as other players’ robots fire lasers in all directions, conveyor belts manipulate your movement and pits await. The objective is rather simple: Make it to the flag. Oh yeah, robots can push each other out of the way. Prepare for RAMMING SPEED! This game is perfect to help your kid practice sequence logic and puzzle solving skills. Plus, it is a good way to get them from in front of the monitor.