Common Sense Review
Updated September 2012

Move the Turtle. Programming for kids

Unique app helps young kids learn basic coding skills, with guidance
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Adorable turtle and lots of choices invite kids into programming.
  • Project examples and users' own project libraries offer ideas.
  • Earn stars and praise for completed tasks.
  • Kids practice coding, recognizing shapes, graphing, and more.
  • Track progress via chapters, stars, and other rewards.
Pros
Kids create as they learn with this cute, colorful app.
Cons
No audio instructions, and some multi-step directions can be confusing.
Bottom Line
Move the Turtle can be a useful tool for learning many basic (and some advanced) programming skills.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

This lighthearted introduction to coding is set within a colorful game starring a cute turtle. Kids who aren't into coding may find it confusing and lacking sufficient instructions. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Kids can learn the basic concepts of computer programming (coding) through the adaptive gameplay, practice following written directions, and apply technology to create digital content.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Brief, written instructions may not be adequate for all kids; a voice tutorial and more specific instructions could greatly enhance learning. Kids can also create their own programs from scratch and view examples of pre-written programs.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

In the classroom, Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids can be a fun addition to lessons about geometry and shapes. If teachers use this app in a classwide lesson to demonstrate, for example, how line segments make a triangle, kids may not even realize they're also learning the basics of programming. Older students who are interested in creating computer programs can use this app solo; teachers can create individual user accounts so each student using the device can track their own progress and log their chosen projects. Teachers of younger students who want to introduce coding may want to do so through very guided lessons.

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What's It Like?

Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids is an educational app that teaches kids the basics of computer programming, or coding. Built within a colorful game starring a cute turtle, it's geared toward younger users, but older kids who have no knowledge of coding can get a lot out of it, too. The learning game is organized in chapters, which kids can progress through as they learn a new skill and earn a star. Earning a certain number of stars unlocks the next chapter. If kids want to challenge themselves outside of the progressive lessons, they can access a list of more than 20 "projects," such as making the turtle move to draw a fixed-size equilateral triangle on the screen, or drawing a variable-size circle. As kids read the instructions and try to complete the task requested for moving the turtle on the screen, the app provides feedback if they aren't doing it correctly. It will provide hints and ask kids if they want to start over. Kids can also hop back and forth between completed lessons if they want to review or gain further mastery in a skill. Move the Turtle is one of the few apps that does a good job helping kids learn some coding basics. Younger kids will definitely require help at first from an engaged teacher or older student who's familiar with coding, but once they get the hang of the system of coding, the clear icon directions will allow them to carry on learning on their own.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Its developer says Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids is made for kids age 5 and up to learn coding, but that may be a stretch. Unless you have some kindergarten or first-grade students who are advanced learners in the areas of spatial skills and following multi-step directions, this app is better suited for kids who are comfortable readers, who have some knowledge of graphing, and who are well-practiced in following multi-step directions. Still, if teachers of younger students want to introduce coding through very guided lessons, even young students can learn the basics with Move the Turtle. Step-by-step programming requires lots of critical thinking, and kids are creating digital content. There's also some geometry (shapes), graphing, and measurement learning within the coding process. If Move the Turtle included more specific instructions, more explanations, and some audio prompts, it could be an even more effective and fun learning tool for more kids within that broad age range.

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See how teachers are using Move the Turtle. Programming for kids

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