Help!

Sometimes life warrants a few big changes. Either by necessity or desire, we embark on new adventures and follow a different path. Next year will find our family exploring fresh areas of learning and we can’t wait to get started. One big change in our learning, will be to add daily programming lessons and this is where you come in. Help!!

I confess, I am not a programmer by any means. I couldn’t tell you how to make an object move, much less how to write an entire game. I really enjoy technology though. (I would own every new Mac device under the sun, if the man would let me.) So, I think this is going to be tons of fun.

More than anything, we find programming a necessary skill which should be included in our children’s learning. My husband is an illustrator; part of his illustrious resume includes designing storybook apps. Our children have been a part of the creative progress, watching it happen and actively participating in development. Having our children learn and create their own projects seems a natural next step. Ultimately, we would like to see this become a family endeavor; my husband designing, our children programming, and all of us working together as a team.

Tynker

We are in the process of creating room for a few computer stations (we currently have a laptop the children use) and procuring desks. The next step will be to move the computers into their new stations and design a routine that encourages creativity. Here is where you come in, my friends. Help us out with some friendly advice.

Which web-based programming applications do you recommend we start with? I’ve done a little research, but my knowledge base is very limited. Here is what I’ve seen so far….

Code.org
Game Star Mechanic
Scratch
Tynker
Move The Turtle
Daisy the Dinosaur

A few of these are iPad based, which might work. We really would prefer web-based applications, however. I think web-based is more easily accessible and would fit our life style more suitably.

So… please help! Let us know your thoughts on any of these programs or suggest a few of your own! Make sure to let us know both what you like about the app and what you don’t. Advise us on the difficulty of each program and how your children are progressing in their own lessons.

Thanks in advance!

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20 thoughts on “Help!

  1. A friend sent me this. Not sure she checked here, first…
    There are many languages that can be learned. The biggest future job market will probably be the web-oriented languages and scripting (HTML5/CSS3/Javascript for webpage frontend design; PHP or Ruby/MySQL(databse)/Linux (popular webserver operating system) for the backside of website design).

    Java (not the same as Javascript)

    Let me know if you would like to contact her for more info. She’s a homeschool mom.

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      • Hmm. Here is the rest of her reply: 🙂
        Arrgh, it is so easy to forget not to hit return when you want a new line instead of posting your message.

        Java (not to be confused with Javascript) is probably the most popular right now and has a very strong market-share of job opportunities.

        The varied flavors of the C programming languages are deep level code. You get close to the gits of the machine with this one. It is the most difficult to learn, but it is the most powerful.

        Places to learn each – There are a plethora of places now. For the webdesign level, I would start out with Lynda.com for a while just to get a familiarity. Joining an active coder community is invaluable because the student can get help if they get stuck. Once the student’s feet are wet, then go for a course with assigned projects and a live, online teacher that has been reviewed well. It isn’t essential to have a degree for programming, but you have got to know your stuff, be able to think in terms of making the user’s experience better, and be creative in your solution to make the product stand out above the rest.

        Okay, so now you know more about my friend, Tammy… 🙂

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      • It’s good to know we might be on the right track. Lynda.com is one of the first places my hubby wanted to head to; so that is going to be first on the list.

        Thanks for all of the helpful advice and tips! We’ll be taking them to heart and doing more research. 🙂

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      • My son finally got back to me:

        For learning programming, I would start with the most common and popular languages. As Tammy said, Java is the most popular and is what is being taught in colleges right now. Java is also universal in that it can be run on any machine regardless of how it was made, so this eliminates a lot of headache when making a software that anyone can use. HTML5 and CSS3 are what’s being used on websites…although JavaScript is popular, the robustness of the newer languages can do a lot of what JavaScript can do.

        I do plan on teaching A to know her way around a computer and to be proficient in at least one useful computer language. That being said, the best place to start would be a course that is directed at absolute beginners, but is not so dumbed down that nothing practical is gained from the process. Most college textbooks for beginning courses are aimed at those with no prior experience in programming at all. However, they are also aimed at college students.

        In addition to the resources that Tammy mentioned, http://www.stackoverflow.com is an excellent place to ask questions and get help if you need it. I frequent there a lot both asking and answering questions.
        ___________

        Funny note: “A” is 4 months old. Ha!

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  2. I am not familiar with any of these. However, Khan Academy has some free coding courses. You also might want to look into KidCoder for Homeschool Programming Inc.

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  3. Yay for teaching your kids to code! This is a great thing to do. I’ve been learning coding for the last couple years, and it is such fun.

    I’ve done the one of the courses on code.org, and I thought it was great!

    http://tryruby.org/ is a web tutorial that is pretty good.

    I’m not sure if you find this appropriate or inappropriate for your family (so sorry if I offend), but there is a zombie-themed one that is supposed to be fun. http://railsforzombies.org/ A high-schooler would probably get a big kick out of it.

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  4. There is a blog that has some good info on this. “Coding for Kids.” They homeschool four boys in Australia and are from Ireland. (The title of the blog site is AirSkull, which as an American brought up images of black clothing and skull and crossbones–Okay, laugh at me—but anyhow AirSkull means “At School” in Irish!!!) Lovely site. http://airskull.com/coding/ This takes you to their coding page. Good luck!

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  5. We use code.org and scratch. Have not used the others. I have found code.org to be more structured, but if you are having a hard time with the step you’re on, there is no instruction to help you out. Scratch is more free-form.

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  6. Hi,
    When my older girls were younger, I taught them html coding and website design. This allows them to play on sites such as Neo-pets, and Tumbler. Due to the tablet market exploding, we are learning the html 5 coding. It is free to learn from Microsoft Virtual Academy.

    microsoft
    virtual academy

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