A few weeks ago, my 9-years old son asked me: “how do computers work? how do we tell them what to do?” He had been using for a while Google, Wikipedia and LibreOffice Writer on an old laptop where I had installed Xubuntu (he rather watches YouTube videos and plays games on my tablet…).

I had heard about the code.org site and initiative about teaching computer programming to children, but my son doesn’t (yet) read English…

After reading a few forum posts, here is what I found out:

* Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/): There is a video introduction at the code.org site, and it is multilingual. I found it in the Ubuntu Software Center. It is visual, looks like coloured blocks to be assembled by drag-n-drop; it is said to be for children 8+. French documentation is here: http://scratchfr.free.fr/

* Squeak / eToys (http://www.squeakland.org): When I installed Scratch, I also got Squesk, but when I launched it, an “image” was missing; the Ubuntu Software Center had one for eToys, so I installed it; it seems to be running in French too.

* Algobox (in French, http://www.xm1math.net/algobox/index.html): This tool was often named with Scratch. It is said to assist in writing and executing algorithms. Seems to be for older children (15+).

* Introduction to algorithm and programming (in French, http://www.pise.info/algo/codage.htm): The first 2 parts were cited as good introductions, independently of any programming language.

* Online (or epub) book on Java for children (in French, http://java.developpez.com/livres/javaEnfants/): Programmation Java pour les enfants…

* Online (or pdf) book on learning Python from scratch (http://www.siteduzero.com/informatique/tutoriels/apprenez-a-programmer-en-python): Python was said to be a simple yet well structured programming language, good to learn a first one.

* Note: KPL (Kids Programming Language) was mentioned several times; it has been replaced by Phrogram (http://phrogram.com/), but it’s in English and for Windows only

So, now I’ve gathered some material. Let’s see how my son reacts…

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