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What are some good tools for introducing kids to programming?

My 9 year old is obsessed with developing an app, and I have no idea how to help him with this. Where/how should he start? Are there some simple yet useful online courses or tutorials? Does he need to know how to program? And if so, what type of programming courses should I look for? Thanks for any help!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 12 '11 at 14:21

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marked as duplicate by Robert Harvey, Tom Squires, Anna Lear Oct 12 '11 at 16:49

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Perhaps you should teach him to read the FAQ. Oh, wait. –  nc3b Oct 12 '11 at 14:18
How do you teach anybody how to design? I think it's already too late for your son - you waited until he was nine? You should have gotten "In Vitro Java" tapes when you found out you were expecting. –  duffymo Oct 12 '11 at 14:20
It sounds like the blind leading the blind. Instead, buy a beginning programming book. Check the ratings before you buy! And check to be absolutely sure the target audience is non-programmer beginner. My first programming book was on C++ and it was absolutely awful. Almost ruined my chances at being a programmer. –  P.Brian.Mackey Oct 12 '11 at 14:33
This question has been asked several times already, in various forms. Check out this search programmers.stackexchange.com/search?q=teaching+kids –  ChrisF Oct 12 '11 at 14:55

1 Answer 1

Download a free IDE with good drag/drop support and let him play with it.

Show him how to drag/drop items and run the application. If he has trouble trying to do something, help him out. Don't try to explain all the technical details unless he asks for it. Kids usually have a short attention span, and are more interested in instant results than doing something for a long time with no visible results.

If he stays interested, then you can start trying to teach him a little more about programming. 9 years old is a bit young to be programming applications, but I suppose anything is possible.

I actually recall playing around with some programming application when I was extremely young too... INKEY or something. It kept my interest for a few days/weeks then I moved on to something else. Although now that I think back on it, when I decided I wanted to work with computers and started learning how to program years later, I found a lot of the concepts easy to understand thanks to that early "game" program.

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It's driving me nuts trying to remember what that software was. I was running it on an early version of Windows, where BSOD and launching programs from DOS was common (maybe 95? 3.1?). There was a little "ink drop" character like MS Office's annoying paperclip, that I think was named Inky who would help you with coding, and the code was something similar to VB.Net. At least, I remember having to Dim variables... (I think) –  Rachel Oct 12 '11 at 15:52