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June 27, 2013 / carlispina

Learn Programming Concepts Through Games With A.L.E.X. and Kodable

Earlier this week I posted about the Daisy the Dinosaur app that is aimed at teaching young children programming concepts in a game format and I have previously posted about Cargo-bot, another game for iPad with a similar aim for a slightly older audience, but this is an area where the number of available games seems to grow all the time. This post will discuss two more options for those who enjoy using programming logic in a game setting.

The A.L.E.X. iPad app

The A.L.E.X. iPad app

First up is a game that lets players control a robot along a path. Called A.L.E.X., this free iPad app has two modes, Play and Create. In the Play mode, players complete standard puzzles using the pieces given to them. The puzzles start off fairly easy and get harder as the player advances. Players are evaluated on whether they successfully complete the level, how quickly they do so and whether they take the shortest path. Players must complete each level to unlock the next and the app offers 25 basics levels and an additional 35 upgrade levels. Upgrading also gives players access to more styles of robot and more pieces for creating levels. This leads to the second mode of the game, Create. In this mode, players can devise and play through their own levels. They can save up to 5 of these levels and can edit them at any time. Overall, the game play is easy to understand and uses mechanics very similar to other games of this sort. The dark graphics are well done, if sometimes a bit too dark without quite enough contrast. But, it is a cute game for children interested in robots and computer programming concepts.

Kodable offers another alternative for a similar game. This one has the player move small fuzzy characters around on the screen as they collect coins. The concept and many of the mechanics are the same as in A.L.E.X., but with bright colors, more cartoon-style characters and the ability to have different players who each save their own spot in the game play. It has different levels aimed at teaching skills such as conditional statements and loops. For teachers interested in using Kodable in their lessons, there are also plans for a Kodable Curriculum.

The Kodable iPad app

The Kodable iPad app

Either game would be a great option for fans of Cargo-Bot as well as any children interested in puzzles that use programming concepts to allow them to control game pieces. You can find out more about other resources for teaching computer programming concepts to children in Lifehacker’s “How And Why To Teach Your Kids To Code” article.

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