Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games is a book designed for the youngest kids who can read comics and basic text who want to learn to program. The prgramming environment, Scratch, will be familiar to those who have experimented with Logo and Squeak. Especially Squeak. Scratch is a very easily installed environment. You just download it and run it, more or less (instructions provided). When installed, it looks like this:
The upper left box allows you to chose categories of property and methods sets, such as motion, looks, sensing, etc. The list-like thingie below this are those sets of properties and methods. You pick a sprite (in this case, the orange cat) and then you stick together items from these lists to get behavior and stuff. The white screen with the cat on it is where the drama is all played out. Here is the editing environment for the sprites:
In this example, I’v set up the orange cat to proceed to the center of the stage, then make a series of turns and moves, with various waiting times between them. I made the cat dance. that was with zero training and not having looked at the book yet.
Once you look at the book you can do much much more! Scratch comes with numerous examples, some of which are a little silly or poorly executed, but all of which illustrate important programing techniques. The version of Pong that comes in the example set is as good as any a beginning programmer might create, and involves only this code:
If you have a kid who plays around with a computer and can read even a little, GET THIS. You’ll have fun, and when you are done playing with it, you can let your kid use it to learn how to program.