Help with gathering resources for how to learn programming for children book

Michael McMahon michael at
Thu Oct 28 13:44:56 UTC 2021

Hi, Bernhard!

The lack of reading and writing skills was the issue I faced. You nailed 
it.  I was also teaching lower income families so starting with a 
written language could start earlier depending on the student or groups 
writing level.

Yes, I did try codecombat and it was good.  When I tried this a few 
years back the site was newer than it is now and there was not a lot of 
content to keep the kids intrigued.  At the time it was a good activity 
for a few days.  The page is free software, but "Note: the levels on are not open source."  It would be amazing if there was a 
community effort to make libre levels.  If it exists, I am unaware.

 From the board game page you listed, I have Code Master and Robot 
Turtles which are similar.  I found that the board games like that are 
not very exciting to young kids, but could be useful for an introduction 
to robotics concepts.  A successful game we would use to introduce 
robotics was using the instructors as robots and the room as a game 
board.  The children would write instructions and the instructors would 
interpret the instructions very literally. This can add comedy which 
balances out the frustration. Interpreting a one line program written as 
"Walk across the room" might result in walking in a straight line 
through the room and falling over the couch for example.  Ambiguous 
instructs like "Turn right" could be interpreted as a 360 degree turn in 
place. "Walk forward three steps" would be interpreted correctly.  The 
low tech nature of the game also helps reduce the economic barrier to entry.

The partner program that we used for robotics chose the Lego mindstorms 
platform which is proprietary, but also drag and drop like blockly and 
friends.  A blockly based Arduino robot would be a great free software 
addition to the education space.  If it exists, I am unaware.

Michael McMahon | Web Developer, Free Software Foundation
GPG Key: 4337 2794 C8AD D5CA 8FCF  FA6C D037 59DA B600 E3C0 |

On 10/28/21 7:59 AM, Bernhard E. Reiter wrote:
> Michael,
> thanks for sharing your experiences.
> Am Dienstag 26 Oktober 2021 18:38:20 schrieb Michael McMahon:
>> Around the age of 10, I would switch them away from drag and drop
>> languages to Python or Lua if they were inclined through modifying
>> simple games and modifying Minetest mods.
> Reading and writing is an important precondition of course.
> So is logical thinking and having fun with puzzles.
> Do you have experience with
> and the service based on it?
> What I found good is that they were available in German.
> So the local language matters a lot, because most children cannot do enough
> English at 10 years.
> Anyone experiences or even research about board games that should prepare for
> coding, like
> Best Regards,
> Bernhard
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