Programming for Kids

Calvin wanted to see Papa’s workplace again. Rather than trying to tell him how boring it is, I thought we might as well show him and let him decide for himself. It was the weekend so we won’t be disturbing anyone. We dropped in to see the computers that do not look very different from the desktop at home and also a glimpse of papa’s code.We then proceeded to usurp the car to have fun at the park and also dropped by the library for a couple of new books. Have I mentioned how I looooove the library here? The book limit is 75 and they will place holds on books for you from other libraries free of charge. The Singapore library charges an exorbitant SGD1.65 per book and has a 8 book limit which is measly especially for kids picture books. We are close to maxing out our 75 book limit here.

ANyway, banking on his interest in programming, I decided to introduce the human robot programming game to him after we returned a little too late for lunch. I couldn’t resist trying it out right away so I gave him his usual green smoothie and prepared the game. I’ve read about this paper coding game previously. It is similar to the Robot Turtle board game that aims to teach kids the basic concept of inputting a set of instructions to a “robot” – usually a parent.

To play the game, we made our set of instructions with paper by decorating a planet Earth and an alien planet for the start and finish positions. I wrote forward, left and right as instruction slips.  Using the novelty of the game to spice up my chinese revision, we used the chinese word cards as “supplies” that the robot can pick up before reaching its destination. The game starts by setting up the supplies at random places between the two planets。 Calvin would then tell me the set of instructions to give robot i.e. Move forward 3 steps, turn right 1 step, move forward 2 steps etc. When he is done with the code, the robot will follow the instructions and see if it manages to pick up all the supplies and reach the alien planet. Our tile floor was perfect since it means I did not have to draw/ make tape squares for the game.

He had a lot of fun with it. Apart from the initial learning period, he picked it up quickly. We also took turns to be the robot and it even inspired him to make a minecraft paper game after that too. Looks like I’ll be on the prowl for more programming games for him to see if he is ready to move to the next level. Mr Calvin loves robots and has been looking forward to getting old enough (I think classes start as early as 8 years old) to be able to program a Lego Mindstorm robot so this is a good preparation for that 🙂

Calvin Lego 1502_(1)


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