What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tynker is a Web-based course collection that teaches kids the logic of programming using visual blocks of code. Parents can register kids for two paid, self-paced online courses, Introduction to Programming and Game Design, or have kids work on several free coding games in the Hour of Code section, which includes a few activities that let kids program their own games or apps. Kids can share the programs they create online and view programs written by other kids. The paid courses also include a library of resources for kids to use to create unlimited programs.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- thinking critically
- combining knowledge
- producing new content
- working efficiently
- digital creation
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
The variety of games in the Hour of Code -- from puppies to zombies -- will appeal to a broad range of interests. Kids can incorporate space, graveyard, and park themes and more in the games they create.
Tynker lets kids learn by doing. The step-by-step tutorials explain concepts such as looping and conditional clauses by clearly demonstrating what the commands do and then letting kids try them out. Kids aren't learning how to write code, but they are learning how code works.
Viewing other kids' programs can inspire kids with ideas to try themselves. Kids have lifetime access to the paid courses, and parents can sign up for an account to monitor what kids are working on and learning.
What's it about?
TYNKER uses visual blocks of code, based on the concepts of Scratch, developed by MIT, to teach kids the concepts of programming. In the courses, kids watch videos, work through programming tutorials, take quizzes to check for understanding, and work on their own programs. Once the courses are purchased, kids have lifetime access. The Hour of Code exercises include several games that offer some instruction as well as tutorials that walk kids step by step through the process of creating a game or an app using the visual code blocks.
Is it any good?
Tynker is a rich resource for kids wanting to learn the basics of programming. The courses use videos and interactive exercises to demonstrate the how-tos of programming, using the vocabulary of the trade without overtly teaching kids a programming language. The free games are tricky to find on the site -- at the bottom of the home page with a link to Hour of Code -- but are a great introduction for kids to try out several games and to help parents gauge if kids might be interested in (or even need) a full-blown course. Some browsers work better than others for some games (game-creation activities Space Zombies and 15 Block Challenge didn't work in Chrome but did in Firefox and Explorer), and some of the animations can be slow to respond, which may frustrate eager players.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how much technology has changed and how fast it's still changing. Parents can share what computing was like when they were kids and even how much technology has changed in their kids' lifetimes.
Talk to kids about the increasing need to understand programming concepts, both for career options and as users of technology.