My 18 month old son woke me up at 4 in the morning. I got him to go back to sleep, but … and here I am writing.
A few weeks ago, I downloaded Scratch from M.I.T’s website. Scratch is a programming language for kids. You drag/drop and (literally) snap together programming constructs to create games. Within a couple of minutes, I had a diver chasing a ball bouncing around on the screen.
I showed it to my 5 year old son and he watched as I “changed the game” and had the ball chase the mouse cursor and the diver chase the ball. He sat down with me and asked me if I could make it a dog chasing the ball instead. Sure! Then we started customizing further. Make it run faster .. Yeah! Let’s turn him into Clifford – The Big Red Dog … Can he bark ? Sure. Let’s turn it into a basket ball .. I want it red, blue, yellow, … Let’s make a basket ball hoop and have Clifford play basketball … Sure.
It was a quite productive pair programming session . No TDD yet – he is too young for that kind of stuff .
I was relieved that I didn’t loose his attention while I was “programming”. Now, my son does have a pretty long attention span for his age, but a lot of credit goes to the designers of Scratch. The entire “artwork” was created within the Scratch application and the “programming” was just a pure joy for my son. And we were just “scratching” the surface there. Explore the possibilities here.
You can download the game here : Clifford-ball.sb. Be careful, sometimes the dog turns upside down. There are some bugs to be fixed . Where is the debugger ?