Daisy the Dinosaur
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Daisy the Dinosaur is a free introduction to programming that will take older elementary-age kids about 10 minutes to work all the way through. It's simply cute, with a calm blue sky, yellow sun, green dinosaur, and yellow star, and it makes programming easy, offering nine commands for kids to drag and drop into their program to make Daisy move. Though the iTunes store description says kids can download a kit to write their own programs, there's no kit to download -- but kids can play in free-play mode when they've worked through the instructional challenges.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- thinking critically
- working efficiently
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Simple design and a cute dinosaur character draw kids in without intimidating them. It's fun to make Daisy jump and spin around the screen, but, with only a few available commands, the possibilities are limited.
This basic introduction to programming doesn't offer much depth. Plain-language commands are easy to understand but don't transfer directly to actual coding.
Instructions are minimal, encouraging kids to figure things out on their own (which sometimes can be a good thing) with steps such as, "Try figuring out how to move Daisy so that she stops in the center of the star."
What's it about?
DAISY THE DINOSAUR gives kids a basic overview of programming using a cute character and scene. Rather than dealing with unfamiliar figures or commands, kids choose commands written in plain English and drag them into the program to make Daisy the Dinosaur do what they direct. Once kids have completed the five challenges that cover moving, looping, and conditionals, they can use the free-play mode, wherein they decide what they'll have Daisy do using the available commands.
Is it any good?
What Daisy the Dinosaur does best is make programming accessible to kids -- even tech-averse kids. It gives them a very brief, uncomplicated introduction to programming using simple commands in everyday language. The downside is, if kids get hooked, there's not much to keep them engaged. The challenge mode will take kids only a few minutes to work through, and there's not much innovation that can happen with the nine commands available in free-play mode. There's also no way to save programs. This is a great free introduction to teach kids the basics. Parents may want to have a few other programming games and apps in mind to buy if kids show an interest in going deeper with their coding interests.
Families can talk about...
Encourage kids to explore a variety of programming tools so they have at least a basic ability to write and understand computer code. Software jobs outnumber students three to one.
Character-based coding games often appeal more to girls, so encourage them to move on to the developer's more in-depth programming app, Hopscotch HD.