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850 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 191

Topic # 107249 9-Aug-2012 09:06 Send private message

My 12 year old has expressed an interest in writing his own programs. So I'm doing a bit of research to find what people reckon is a good platform for him to dip his toes in the programming pool.

I'm looking for something that is pretty quick to pick up the basics of, and will have some fairly immediate payoff to hook him in - so that he can see results rapidly, then go on from there.

He has the attention span for it, given the hours (and hours) he spends playing Minecraft, downloading mods and new worlds for Minecraft, researching new tricks to use in Minecraft and watching walkthoughs on youtube of other people's Minecraftery. He likes Minecraft.

His teacher has given making a computer game on a topic relating to a book the class is reading as an option for a project. That's about all the information the teacher gave, something like "write a computer game, I have no idea how, but I'm told it can be done, go for it".

This is a chance for me to steer his computer addiction into a useful direction.

Any ideas from the pros? I'm in IT, but not a programmer, so I don't know if one of the major platforms would be a good starting place, or if there's something more basic (like BASIC when I was a lad) that would be a better place to start. I remember programming in LOGO when I was in school, geez I'm old.

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3254 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 119


  Reply # 669938 9-Aug-2012 09:16 Send private message

Kodu is a pretty cool platform to work on if you are under 14 years. It's very interactive so keeps kids entertained. If something more professional then start with scripting languages like Python, Javascript.

Do whatever you want to do man.



155 posts

Master Geek

  Reply # 669939 9-Aug-2012 09:16 Send private message

Jeez - other than my son being 15 and not 12 like your son, I could have written this post!
My son exactly the same - lives for Minecraft and its mods, wants to learn programming, I am in IT but not programming.


850 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 191

  Reply # 669945 9-Aug-2012 09:27 Send private message

billgates: Kodu is a pretty cool platform to work on if you are under 14 years. It's very interactive so keeps kids entertained. If something more professional then start with scripting languages like Python, Javascript.

That looks like exactly the kind of thing I'm after. I'll stick on his PC & have a play with it.

1732 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 192

  Reply # 669954 9-Aug-2012 09:54 Send private message

my son was the same and he loved the RPGmaker program. it does cost but there are free trials also available.

710 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 39

  Reply # 669956 9-Aug-2012 09:59 Send private message

Im trying to get the kids into SmallBasic (

5 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 671903 13-Aug-2012 18:04 Send private message

Let him make his personal page using HTML, CSS, Javascript.
You can offer him a task to make your family's picture gallery using Fancybox for example =)
You don't even need to have server - you can develop this at the localhost

Dev from Russia =)

78 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 9

  Reply # 673896 18-Aug-2012 01:31 Send private message

Having programmed for over 25 years, I think I can give a sufficiently bigoted and biased opinion here. heh.

Then again, having paused for thought.. as mentioned above, Javascript, in combination with some CSS and HTML, can give a fast payback for some tinkering with semi-forgiving code. Its a richly rewarding object-oriented world right there in your browser, and there are very nice libraries of awesomeness you can add in, such as jQuery, along with 2D graphics support if you want to start out simple with say a platform scroller game using sprites and such.

One thing I am not sure about tho is how easy it would be for a beginner to get their head around server-side and client-side aspects, and how to grasp the browser-of-choice debugging features; whether a problem arose in the HTML, the JS or the CSS can be tricky.

Moving out of the browser, I would probably direct an enthusiast toward C#, which can be used on Linux etc. with MonoDevelop or on Win* with the free Visual C# Express tools. This is more complex, e.g. strongly typed etc, than Javascript, but maybe there is more introductory documentation available, once one learns enough to ask the right questions on google.

p.s. If I stepped aside totally from what my employers require me to use, I would probably spend a lot of time messing with Python and some of the many many libraries available for it. But thats outside of my current area of expertise, it just looks cool, is all.

Les F.

5 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 673902 18-Aug-2012 03:55 Send private message

I'm totally agree with LesF.
I didn't said about C# cause I thinks it can be slightly boring for the kid.
In browser you can see some nice wow-effects using jQuery... it's a good motivation in my opinion.

But yeah C# is great option.

Dev from Russia =)

644 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 68


  Reply # 673913 18-Aug-2012 07:42 Send private message

Try this:
It is a programming language designed for kids to learn with.

Being a 15 year old I am exactly the same: Minecraft, Mods for Minecraft, My Minecraft Server, Making Videos about Minecraft with my friends (On Skype).

I have found that the Raspberry Pi was a great investment on my part. I am creating bash scripts and running cron jobs. I am having fun!!!! The $55 was worth it.

I hope this is a good path.

1907 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 273

  Reply # 673914 18-Aug-2012 07:45 Send private message

Can't have a thread like this without logo:

Giving me flashbacks to my own childhood ;-)  (though maybe better for slightly younger kids)


922 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 21


  Reply # 673955 18-Aug-2012 11:11 Send private message

One important aspect that is often missed when asking for language/environment advice for a learner, is information on the more theoretical side of programming - data structures and algorithms.

I remember when I first learnt programming in BASIC many many moons ago, I felt constrained and directionless until I finally learnt about advanced data structures and algorithms. Admittedly, much later and in a slightly more useful language.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend any online source of information, as I'm personally not aware of any - but I'm sure there are many!

For a paper resource, I always fall back on recommending K&R The C Programming Language.


859 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 37

  Reply # 673965 18-Aug-2012 13:10 Send private message

If the goal is to create a game then there are lots of packages around that let you do this in an object oriented way. These can be good for teaching OO principles and logic without getting bogged down with the low-level stuff. You could try something like GameMaker

1210 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 198

  Reply # 674005 18-Aug-2012 16:15 Send private message

I introduced my daughter to code at age 3 but when she got really serious about programming in her teens she quickly got bored. This may seem way out there, but the online resource that kept her interest up was

I know the site gets a lot of criticism for being a hackers training ground. I was worried about her involvement at first, but keeping in mind that hacking isn't necessarily cracking, the challenges there kept her motivated and learning. 

It's worth bookmarking for when you kids hit that, "this is getting a bit too easy/boring" phase.

Also worth noting, there are some good books around for beginners, leading to them writing apps for mobile devices. One online learning resource is:
Some kids get hooked more easily into wanting to get into serious programming if they can see results fairly quickly.

710 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 39

  Reply # 674047 18-Aug-2012 18:14 Send private message

sidefx: Can't have a thread like this without logo:

Giving me flashbacks to my own childhood ;-)  (though maybe better for slightly younger kids)

Smallbasic does Logo as well :D

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