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Tagsapp, early elementary, preschooler
The best thing about learning to program computers is that sense of unlimited raw power that comes from bending a machine to your will. It’s that moment when you realize that you are the computer’s undeniable master. So, when you want to get your kids excited about technology and programming, tap into this innate human craving for total domination of the world.
Before they begin dreaming too big, though, you’ll want to start them on something smaller, like Move the Turtle, a smartphone app by the developers at Next is Great.
Move the Turtle is a game in which the player must direct a rather simple-minded turtle through obstacles to collect gems. It teaches basic procedural programming by requiring the player to input a series of movement commands, such as “go forward 10,” “rotate 45 degrees,” etc. The game has three chapters, each with nine challenges of increasing difficulty.
This game may seem overly simplistic, but looks can be deceiving. It’s won multiple awards and accolades, including the Parent’s Choice Gold Award, because it’s one of those rare video game gems that is addictively fun to play while it teaches important skills and thought processes. Through gameplay, kids learn the logo programming language without even realizing it. When it comes time for them to delve deeper into enhancing their programming skills, Move the Turtle players will find the learning curve to be much less steep.
“Move the Turtle” can get a little frustrating, as the turtle is unforgivingly stupid and will only move according to the exact instructions given. But this is an important lesson in the exacting nature of computer programming. Plus, it makes victory so much sweeter as you crush the will of that mockingly dumb turtle.