Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2013
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Hopscotch: Coding for kids

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Easy-to-use visual tool makes programming fun for kids

Subjects & skills

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Easy-to-use controls and colorful characters will draw kids in and show them that they can create their own programs.

Cons: Kids may find the open options for creation intimidating and need to see some examples for inspiration.

Bottom Line: Hopscotch is a great tool for introducing kids to programming, but it's just a starting point.

Use Hopscotch to teach basics of programming. Let kids use it for cross-curricular projects. Kids can brainstorm, plan, and create a story-based game or program using Hopscotch and present it to classmates.

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Students create games and animations with Hopscotch by dragging and dropping commands and instructions into a script. Kids choose characters -- colorful monsters or animals -- and customize commands to make the characters move where they want or do what they want. They drag each command into place in the script and customize as they choose. Kids are empowered to determine specifics -- like how far their character moves, the color and size of trail it leaves, creating a line or shape, changing its size and costume, etc. They can easily experiment with what different commands do and revise their script as needed. Kids then hit Play to run their script, and they can share it with others via email.

The idea behind Hopscotch comes from MIT's Scratch programming interface. Hopscotch is the adaption of this introductory visual programming tool for mobile devices.

Kids can learn the fundamentals of computer programming on a mobile device with Hopscotch HD. Using visual blocks that represent programming concepts, students create their program -- whatever they want: games, animations, fun messages, etc. Kids are exposed to the ideas they'll use programming with more sophisticated languages without worrying about the minute details just yet. Students work with loops, variables, and conditional statements without having to learn the lingo. They'll think like programmers -- from coming up with their own idea to implementing it and troubleshooting it.

While Hopscotch is a good starting point, kids may get frustrated with the limits of the app and their abilities, thinking they'll create their own version of Minecraft, so you may want to set realistic expectations and show some examples of what kids can do with Hopscotch. The app only offers one tutorial example of a monkey drawing a line. More examples or even some step-by-step guided programs that kids could copy would enrich the value of the app. Hopscotch does a good job of scaffolding programming for kids, but students will eventually need exposure to and instruction in programming languages to move into productive coding.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The characters and colors are fun and vibrant, and the app empowers kids to create open-ended options.  

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Hopscotch HD is a good example of scaffolded learning. Kids get the support they need to create programs and build confidence before they encounter the intricacies of coding.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

More tutorials or sample programs would help kids grasp the concepts more quickly, but the interface is intuitive and each control is defined in the help section.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Cmcg , Homeschooling parent
Homeschooling parent
Problem Solving App Makes Coding Easy as 123!
I think coding is the foreign language of the future and our kids are not too young to start learning. Hopscotch is visual-based so kids don't have to spell or worry about missing punctuation elements. I wish it had more FAQ/Help info (it may but I have yet to locate), however, that is kind of part of the challenge. You try something and see what happens. Requires an iPad (not sure about other platforms)
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