App review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2019
Tynker Junior
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Tynker Junior

Picture-based coding app piques early learners' interest

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Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
Pre-K–2 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.
Subjects & Skills
Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: A mix of games, puzzles, and creative tasks provide a well-rounded approach to learning early coding skills.

Cons: It's a little repetitive; there's not much feedback for incorrect moves, just a direction to try another way.

Bottom Line: Early coders will enjoy the colorful interface and variety of activities as they progress through different worlds and develop foundational programming skills.

Take advantage of the visual and auditory appeal of Tynker Junior to spark kids' interest, develop early programming skills, and increase their confidence as they graduate to more complex coding apps and games (like Tynker). Whether you're using it as an introduction to programming concepts or a fun gaming activity for students to do with their free time, kids are sure to latch on to the different worlds as they complete puzzles, match shapes, and earn badges.

While the app is geared toward prereaders, be aware that some students in the target age range (4-7) will know how to read. It would be helpful to have text on the screen that follows the voice-over so that early readers can connect text to speech, and so that readers can opt to turn off the sound. 

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Tynker Junior, a prereader version of Tynker, is a picture-based coding platform for early learners. Kids explore three worlds -- Ocean Odyssey, Robots, and Wild Rumble -- and advance through 30-plus levels on each board to learn the basics of block programming, sequencing, loops, and other coding fundamentals. A voice-over guides users through each challenge, providing praise for successful completion and a simple message to try another way for combinations that don't work. Kids can earn badges and access to fun activities like designing their own aquarium as they progress through each world. Account holders receive email updates when a student achieves a new level. Upon completion of all activities, kids are directed toward the more challenging Tynker platform.

 

Programming with Tynker Junior involves learning basic concepts that, with repetition and practice, can provide a baseline for more challenging concepts later on. As with any language, the sooner a learner begins, the easier it will be to achieve fluency. Beyond concepts like loops, sequencing, pattern recognition, and variables, solving puzzles on Tynker Junior can help kids develop skills related to listening, critical thinking, logic, and perseverance. 

There's no way to skip levels, so kids who start off knowing a bit more might be bored and may not be motivated to continue. On the other hand, there's no help or hints for kids who get the wrong answer, which can lead to frustration even in the most perseverant learner. More rewarding activities like access to more games -- as well as some feedback or hints when kids get stuck along the way -- would give the tool more appeal. Still, as it is, it's a neat introduction to coding that's sure to motivate kids to want to learn more.  

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Colorful graphics and a clear visual progression toward more challenging tasks will entice kids as they master basic coding skills.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Students can develop critical thinking skills and perseverance as they practice flexible sequencing, loops, and block parameters.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

There's quite a bit of praise for completing the tasks correctly but not a lot of help for kids who make mistakes. Students who learn quickly might be frustrated by the slow pace.


Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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