Scratch - Programming with your Children
This is something a bit different. It's nice to play games with our children, but what if we could create them? Scratch is a very powerful visual programming tool where you and your children can create your own games, animations and other bizarre creations. The program is web-based, completely open-source and free to use. Using different coloured blocks, you drag the appropriate programming commands into a script window, tied to specific elements of your program. Like colourful jigsaw pieces, but with instructions written on them you can create very complex and programs and test them out in the preview window as you make them.
Once you have made your creation, you can share it with the scratch community, who can even 'go inside' your game, see how you made it and backwards engineer it to their own liking. This is called 'remixing' and is a great feature, especially for getting to grips with the programming language. Overall, Scratch is very accessible, makes for a great starting point for getting children into programming, and they absolutely love making their own games. Better still the community is very open, supportive and helpful, with tonnes of help guides, tutorial videos and documentation to help you learn. Baked right into Scratch is also a very clever help tool that is context specific if you ever wonder what an block does.