Hopscotch -- Programming made easy! Make games, stories, animations and more!
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hopscotch -- Programming made easy! Make games, stories, animations and more! is a drag-and-drop programming app for kids to write their own programs. Kids need to be independent readers to follow the instructions and commands and "write" their code, but there is no objectionable content. Kids are empowered to create programs that control characters and can add text to their programs. Although Hopscotch will appeal to all kids, the character-based design may be especially appealing to girls (or boys) who may not be as drawn to the industrial-looking designs of programming apps such as Cargo-Bot. Kids can view programs created by other kids or upload their own programs to the community, but they're instructed not to use their real names. Postings appear immediately with no moderation.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- combining knowledge
- producing new content
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
The characters and colors are fun and vibrant, and the app empowers kids to create open-ended options.
Hopscotch HD is a good example of scaffolded learning. Kids get the support they need to create programs and build confidence before they encounter the intricacies of coding.
More tutorials or sample programs would help kids grasp the concepts more quickly, but the interface is intuitive, and each control is defined in the help section.
What's it about?
Kids create games and animations with HOPSCOTCH -- PROGRAMMING MADE EASY! MAKE GAMES, STORIES, ANIMATIONS AND MORE! by dragging and dropping commands and instructions into a script. Kids choose characters -- colorful monsters or animals -- and customize commands to make the characters move where they want or do what they want. Kids are empowered to determine specifics, such as how far their character moves and the color and size of trail it leaves. They also can create a line or shape and change its size and costume. Kids can share their programs with others via a link or on the Hopscotch community board in-app.
Is it any good?
Hopscotch -- Programming made easy! Make games, stories, animations and more! is a great introduction to hands-on visual programming. Kids don't have to worry about missing intricate details such as a closing parenthesis just yet, but they can see how each command is carried out and the importance of each step and its placement. Unlike the few other early programming apps currently available, Hopscotch is open-ended, so kids can create what they want rather than writing the code to make a character do specific things. This option may be paralyzing to some kids at first, but they'll just need some encouragement to take some risks and have some fun. The app only offers one tutorial example, though, and then kids have to create the actions on their own. More examples or even some step-by-step guided programs that kids could copy would enrich the learning value. The community features some great examples of what kids can create, along with some not-so-stellar examples, as everything uploaded appears instantly with no moderation. Many posts feature kids begging for "stars," the way to show appreciation for a program. At the time of review, there was was no objectionable content in the programs, but it's certainly a possibility in an unmoderated community.
Families can talk about...
Once kids have mastered Hopscotch, steer them to MIT's online application development tool, Scratch.
Talk to kids about the growing STEM fields and the evolution of computers, programming, and mobile devices. As digital natives, they are often unaware of just how new mobile technology is.