Being a proper Geek-Dad I want my kids to be initiated to the dark side of computers (a.k.a. making
software instead of just using it) if possible. They are now 6 years and it is time to get them started. From my own teaching experience I know the biggest stumbling block for novice programmers are basics like variables and flow of control. If one would know about if, else, while, switch, continue and break before
you start coding things would be much easier.
Researching on that matter I came across the board game C-Jump
. The game resembles a ski race where you move your figures down the hill throwing a dice to figure out the distance. The special effect are the instructions printed on every field. After throwing your dice you have a look and find things like x++; 6-x; if (x==4). You replace x with the number just thrown and off you go.
The game is classified as 11+ years, so trying it on Anthony and Ernest seemed a bit ambitious. So I took refuge in building up suspense. The game isn't available in Singapore, so I had to order it from the US. I showed Anthony and Ernest the website (they love to surf with me) and explained, that this is a fun game we will buy. They helped me to fill in the online order form and watched the mailbox for the big packet from America every day.
Finally it arrived and I had to explain the rules. We played two rounds. After that Anthony and Ernest were eagerly explaining to Mummy how the game goes and that ++ actually stands for +1 and that switch works together with case and that nevermind if you don't have a case number because there is default.
All in all we had good fun and the board game C-Jump
made it straight into my favourite games list. For seasoned programmers you can use it too, you just need to introduce a handicap in the form of sufficient beers <g>.