Programming turtles

You have to pay the standard £2.99 for this one but it’s really good. Great interface and interesting coding puzzles to solve which can be tackled by most 6-7 year olds.

It’s a bit of a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s when, as a very new teacher, I remember loving the LOGO programmed turtle robots I had in the classroom.  In those days there was no ‘IT’ on the curriculum so as a maths teacher, I got the turtles and I still don’t think they can be beaten for learning simple programming.  One of my more random rules was that the Turtles had to leave the room before anyone else could go at the end of the lesson – kids got to be really fast at programming their turtles out of the door from anywhere in the room. When they got to be too good, I’d introduce more rules – like penalties for hitting things like desk or chair legs and back to the beginning for colliding with humans!  I wish someone would re-release a retro turtle….

One of the problems with many of the learn-to-program apps is that the tasks are suitable for a particular age but the levels of language and literacy to operate the app are more appropriate for an older age range.  This one works fine for KS1 in both respects. There are a series of ‘packs’ ranging from a beginner level right through to some which need some pretty sophisticated programming. We found that it was more a question of interest rather than ability which determined whether KS1 children progressed right up to the higher levels.  Some children just got bored after a while because of the limitations of the programme – for example, they wanted to be able to make the turtle do more things than the program would allow or they wanted to know why they could not move more objects.


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