Computer Programming for Children

posted 27 Dec 2012, 11:33 by Jeremy Schubert   [ updated 27 Dec 2012, 13:41 ]
One of the first things usually taught in any programming class is how program the computer to print "Hello World" on the screen.

Writing a computer program simply means putting together a set of instructions for the computer to do something. For example, you might instruct the computer to draw a square or to figure out the sum of two numbers. As programmers progress, they might learn how to combine shapes they've created to draw a house. Or they may write a program that determines how much change should be given from a vending machine if someone uses a five dollar bill for a purchase. And of course, programmers can eventually learn to write sophisticated programs that run games or other functions.

In the past, it seemed that computer programming was for the brainy boys and girls who excelled at math. With advances in technology, computer programming has now become something that most children can easily learn. Below are some simple programming languages and website tutorials that can be used to teach computer programming to students. Computer programming could be a family project, a classroom project or used as a hook to get children involved in an extracurricular activity such as a youth club. Some of these programming projects have been used with students in primary grades, while some are more suited for middle years and high school students. In addition to being a fun exciting activity, learning to program can also provide external benefits. Other skills that can be learned/taught through programming include logical thinking, team work, organization, patience, determination, creativity and many more.

Here is a list of some helpful sites.  Let me know by email ( others you have to add:
LOGO (primary students and older)

Logo is one of the original programming languages for children. It was developed by Seymour Papert, a French professor of education. Along with colleagues, he devised a 'robot' on the computer screen called the 'Turtle'. Chidren learn how to issue commands to move the Turtle different directs to draw shapes. Those shapes can be later combined to draw pictures and screens., and examples of sites that will teach Logo programming online.

The Logo programming language can also be downloaded and installed on a computer (Windows or Mac) so you don't have to learn the language online. Two websites you can download the program from include and

Scratch (primary students and older)

Scratch is a fancier version of LOGO.
Here is a YouTube video with a basic explanation of how to install and use the program -
Download the program, documentations and sample projects from -

Lego Mindstorms (can be used with primary grades, but more for middle years and up)

This is a commercial product made by Lego. Packages consist of hardware and software used to create small robots that do various tasks.
Go here for more information -
And go here for information on the educational Lego Mindstorm's package -

ALICE (websites says it's for all ages but I recommend starting with one of the above projects and then moving to ALICE)

Here's a description from the ALICE website which is can be found at

Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a student's first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects.

In Alice's interactive interface, students drag and drop graphic tiles to create a program, where the instructions correspond to standard statements in a production oriented programming language, such as Java, C++, and C#. Alice allows students to immediately see how their animation programs run, enabling them to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation. By manipulating the objects in their virtual world, students gain experience with all the programming constructs typically taught in an introductory programming course.

Teaching Kids Programming - More In-Depth Information

Go here to read Marshall Brain's blog on teaching programming to students of all ages. I haven't read through all of his blog, but he does seem to have some good ideas -