Introducing Coding to a Six Year Old

I’ve wanted to look at Scratch for a while but haven’t really had a need. And without a need it’s hard to justify the time. However, Jennifer and I decided Brady’s present from Santa this year is going to be the new Lego Boost set.  I think he’s ready for it, but the coding aspect of it makes me a little hesitant.

Today I thought I would see if Brady was interested in coding.  I know he’s naturally curious but I’m scared of overwhelming him. So I decided to go at this in very small steps.

The first thing I asked him to do was to draw me a picture using crayons. He decided upon a couple of flowers. Once he was done with the picture I asked if he thought he could recreate it on the computer.

At first we tried the built in editor in Scratch but he didn’t have the dexterity for that so I installed Tuxpaint. This worked perfectly.  I saved the background image and then asked him if there were any animals which liked flowers.  He said that bee’s love flowers. I asked if he was interested in trying to draw a bee.  He was. And did. I saved this bee as a separate image.

I had to spend a couple of minutes getting the image sizes right and adding a transparency to the bee but once that was done I asked him if he could help me write our first program. He decided that he wanted to be able to make the bee fly around the screen. A couple of minutes later we had come up with the following:

Scratch code for Brady's Bee

Scratch code for Brady’s Bee

The end result:

His face lit up when he figured out how to control his bee. (This requires Flash.)

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