Purpose: Children navigate a town map by moving North, South, East or West one or more blocks at a time. They describe the lengths of their paths in blocks (on the map), sometimes comparing the lengths or number of turns of two paths, and sometimes describing a path’s overall shape. Children learn by experimenting and seeing the effect of their work, so even compass directions don’t need pre-teaching or review. Children must sometimes predict results or puzzle out how to get results that aren’t obvious (e.g., making 1 script that visits everyone on the map). Work is not “checked” as in tutorial apps and games. Children see the effects their code produces and change it if they like. Children mark “I did it!” on a pdf as they do the puzzles.
Description: Children see a map with 10 labeled places.
Four programming blocks , , , and let children move on the map, and lets them specify a starting place. Children can inputs in to specify a different location.
Each child can individually personalize the map by changing names in and then clicking it.
As always, children can choose new explorations and puzzles (Figure 3).
Introducing this in class: The very small number of programming blocks and the clear context—familiar cardinal directions on blocks and a relatively familiar image of a map—make it easy to introduce this environment in less than 10 minutes to 7-year-olds who have had little or no prior programming experience. Show how to drag out a block and how to click; have a child come up to demonstrate another move; show how to start the smiley face at any intersection on the map using the start at block by typing in the letter and number and then click the block; and show how to get a new puzzle. Let children do much of the demonstrating. They can then work independently.
Have children choose names to label the streets and avenues and perhaps six places (e.g., houses, restaurants, library, shops) at intersections of those roads. Have children enact the moves of moving from one location to another and naming the “addresses” (the labels on the roads). Without instruction, most children seem to have no trouble naming the addresses, perhaps from games like “Battleship.” For help, say “<name> lives at the corner of <…> Street and <…> Avenue. Show us on the map. Now tell us where <another place> is, as if you’re on the phone and can’t point.”