My Weekend of Scratch started because of some retro gaming with Mario Brothers, Zelda and Megaman. Memories certainly came flooding back to me at how appalling at gaming I was. But that aside something very special happened. Little ‘Mikelet’ walked into the room and saw me playing these games and was blown away. He is a modern Mario fan which, in my humble opinion, is no where near as good as the retro version but then again I am old school. Dickensian some say :O. He was enthralled and intrigued and suddenly blurted out, “Dad, can you teach me to program”. Panic comes over my face, because with something like this you only get one chance to teach it correctly before people loose interest.
So this called for a large mug of coffee and some Google time. I needed to research what was the best software to use. After lots of research it came back that the lovely engineers at MIT had developed a method for teaching children to program with premade click and drag-gable blocks of code.
I started him with with a question. How do you make a drink such as squash, what do you need? We sat down with paper and he drew it out.
Steps to make a squash drink
- We need to go to the cupboard.
- We get a glass
- We go over to the squash cupboard
- Get the squash out
- Put the squash in the glass
- We then go to the tap
- We turn the tap on
- We fill the glass
The above away is a great way to explain to children the steps / processes you need to think about when writing code. Within minutes, Michael was starting to code and understand the processes you have to go through to make code work. After 5 hours of being enthralled, he has made two player games where two people could move their characters around the screen. He was introduced to the world of sprites.
So if you have a child that wants to learn how to program then this is certainly the best way to teach it.