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Posted by Andy Brown on 24 September 2012
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Programming Lessons for Children - the Code Club
In a previous blog Andrew (no relation) introduced Small Basic, a version of Visual Basic aimed at children. Now the MIT Media Lab have gone one stage further, and developed a programming language which is closer to colour-by-numbers than to hard-core coding.
The Scratch Language
Available as a free download from the Scratch website, Scratch looks like no other language I've ever used:
Even the icon is different!
Here are some examples of programming in this child-friendly language. Want to create a variable? That'll be the orange-coloured instructions:
Having created a variable called OwlName, you can drag any of these instructions into your code.
Scratch programs (or scripts) would have C# coders turning in their graves (or resetting the values of their rotational parameters):
Different types of instructions show up in different colours.
Having created a program (or project), you can share it with the world:
The dialog box for sharing a project online.
Code Clubs are (as they are succinctly described on the Code Club website) "A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11".
So if you're worried your Johnny (or Jeannie) isn't up to scratch (excuse the pun) on VB or C#, you could enrol him or her in a code club. Whether you're a volunteer, school or parent, there are clear instructions on the website showing how to get involved:
You can click to say whether you're a volunteer, school or parent.
Lessons start using Scratch (as above), but progress onto other languages after the first term.