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Daisy the Dinosaur
Pros: Easy to use, especially for young kids.
Cons: Lacks depth in explaining how to use the commands available and in offering a good range of possibilities.
Bottom Line: Cute (free) introduction to the concept of computer programming, but won't satisfy anyone with an even remotely genuine interest in playing around with coding.
Use this as a simple, free way to introduce the concepts behind computer programming. You can demonstrate in front of a group, asking kids for help in exploring the available commands, or have kids explore on their own. You can also talk about cause and effect as kids see how the commands they choose affect what Daisy does. Kids can use Daisy to create short and simple animations -- though with no save feature, kids will have to share their work immediately. You can also help kids make connections between what they see happening on a computer and the general idea of programming they learn from Daisy.
Daisy the Dinosaur is an introduction into the world of computer programming, simple and accessible to young kids. In two modes of play, challenge and free play, kids experiment with combining commands and watching the related output by dragging the available commands from list to the input field. In challenge mode, a quick tutorial takes kids through the "move," "jump," "spin," "repeat 5," and "when" commands one at a time, asking them to figure out how to make Daisy do things like spin five times. At the end of the tutorial, kids are invited to explore the free play area. In free play, kids can use "when," "repeat 5," "move," "turn," "grow," and "shrink" to make simple animations. There's no way for kids to save a programming chain or share what they've created.
Kids can explore how certain codes lead to specific outcomes. It's fun to make Daisy move around, and kids may feel empowered as they create simple animations. Most codes are very simple (move, turn), but "repeat 5" and "when" introduce a bit of complexity and provide a taste of some of the language of coding. Yet, with a total of seven possible codes and no way to save or share work, kids' experiences are bound to be superficial and limited to simple, individual sessions of moving a dinosaur around a bit. This may make Daisy suitable for very young kids, who may need reading help from a grownup. But any kid who shows delight or interest in creating with programming isn't likely to be satisfied. Even young kids will quickly exhaust what Daisy has to offer. More commands, save features, and more explanation of what codes can do and how to use them would really enhance this app.