View Full Version : Kid's programming?

February 25th, 2005, 09:47 AM
Hi All,

My first post to Ubuntu!

I am running a computer camp for kids this summer, and one of our activities will be some introductory programming. I have the use of a nice new lab, but unfortunately cant install Ubuntu.

I was wondering what tools might exist on the live cd that would be appropriate to young beginner programmers? My wife has suggested we use Windows qbasic, but I would prefer a Linux solution.

Thanks in advance,



February 25th, 2005, 10:07 AM
Maybe you'll give Gambas a try:


It's a KDE app, but I don't think that hurts too much.

However I did never like basic very much. My personal programming experiences did start with Pascal (www.freepascal.org), which was no too bad - most of my fellow students started with that too.

Finally, I always found Ruby (http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/) very interesting, maybe that could be an alternative to basic.

I guess none of them will be on live CD, but I maybe you could have a disc ready to install them on use?

Daniel G. Taylor
February 25th, 2005, 07:08 PM
Python (http://www.python.org)! It is a very easy language to pick up, and you can show them many things in the live interpreter (and they can play around in it as well). You could even develop a GUI module that uses pygtk and have some really simple functions they can call after importing your module so they can visually see that they have accomplished something (compared to just outputting stuff in the terminal).

Python Documentation (http://www.python.org/doc)

Alternatively, you can create modifications to the LiveCDs (like adding programs you would like to use) rather easily. See http://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/LiveCDCustomizationHowTo

February 25th, 2005, 07:43 PM

There is a custom debian distribution called debian junior.

I am pretty sure all the packages are available in Universe.



February 26th, 2005, 05:13 AM
I'd certainly recommend Python as well. It's an incredibly easy language to pick up, and personally, I think the book Learning Python (O'Reilly) is almost perfectly suited for a younger reader. It dumbs down alot of the aspects of the language. I have had much success in teaching my youngest brother (who is 16) utilizing that textbook, and he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. ;) Love you Garrett.

February 27th, 2005, 03:36 AM

Or if you're into pushing concepts above all, Haskell.

Above all, though, I'd say stick with languages that have good interactive interpreters.

February 27th, 2005, 01:13 PM

February 27th, 2005, 07:44 PM
I have to say it really depends on how old these kids are. When I was about 10 I went to a Computer Camp and we worked with really simple tools that were primarily visual, which kept all of our attention. The ones I remember are Turtle Graphics and Game Maker (Both were for windows but most languages have some form of turtle graphics available to them). If they are a bit older, say 15 or 16, i would agree that Python is the best choice. I would still consider Turtle Graphics (yes python has it just "import turtle") as a nice way to introduce some of the concepts, as it lends itself nicely to for loops and functions.

February 27th, 2005, 07:52 PM
Good point - with visual output by turtle graphics it gives you actually a feeling of success when you start to program. I would recommend that, too.

March 4th, 2005, 06:19 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies....very helpful!

March 4th, 2005, 08:37 PM
I was thinking about that, i am learning to work with LabView at school.
This is a graphical programming method, used for Embedded applications.

A simmilar front-end to a scripting-language like python could be a good first-time experience for kids. At first programming is easy (you do not have to worry about syntax, just the design), at least... it is as difficult as the person wants it to be without breaking his head over minor details.

And programming graphically is fun. Later-on they get to see the code and get a first impression on what really makes it work.