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Pros: A mix of games, puzzles, and creative tasks provide a well-rounded approach to learning early coding skills.
Cons: There's not much feedback for incorrect moves, just a suggestion to try something different.
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. Consider providing offscreen activities that reinforce computational thinking. While the app is geared toward prereaders, be aware that some students in the target age range (4-7) will know how to read.
Tynker Junior, a prereader version of Tynker, is a picture-based coding platform for early learners. Kids explore worlds with leveled puzzles -- Ocean Odyssey, Robots, and Wild Rumble, Puffball Panic, and Super Squad -- and advance through 30-plus levels on each board to learn the basics of block programming, sequencing, loops, and other coding fundamentals. Another set of play worlds are more like creative studios where students can experiment using different kinds of coding blocks to make art, music, animations, greeting cards, and simple video games. 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. And the creative studios are a nice open-ended counter to the structure of the leveled puzzles.
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. And 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. Still, as it is, it's a neat introduction to coding that's sure to motivate kids to want to learn more.