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!

An Apple a Day

Little Man PlayingAs I mentioned in a previous post, media is limited in our home. Our children are only allowed TV and “free play” on devices from Friday evening until Sunday evening. Even then, they are limited to how much time they get. At times, it can become a little hard to uphold these rules; especially when we develop mobile apps.

My husband is part of Ayars Animation, a small company based in California that develops apps for Apple mobile devices. To date, they have completed four apps and are working on a fifth. Their first app was the classic story, Jack and the Beanstalk.iPod

Working with Ayars Animation has been loads of fun for him. He was mainly hired to handle the illustrations for the apps, but it has become much more. Now, he has become instrumental in helping to develop future apps and the fine tuning of details.

The Tree I SeeOne side effect of developing these apps has been that we are constantly testing them out. Our children are often called upon to check for “bugs” and crashes. While the kids have a blast with helping out their pop, they are taking in a little more media than we often would allow.

It also means that they are being exposed to the world of Apple. Our children know their way around any Apple device that is placed in their hands and can sync any handheld with a desktop. They know iTunes like the back of their hands and, unfortunately, are up to date on the latest and greatest kid apps available. Pirate Puzzles

We now have a large assortment of learning apps, strategy apps, game apps, and book apps; our collection growing larger every day. The minute their friends get a new app, the kids are anxious to try it out.

Cozmo's Day OffAs it is the school year, I still refrain from allowing them to play with media during the week. However, testing does need to be done. We are trying to find a balance between the two; helping out Pop and yet not have media overkill. It isn’t always easy, but we are learning as we go.

However… It is Sunday and the house is filled with the sound of technology. Now, can someone tell me how I am supposed to get the Angry Birds theme song out of my head?