Tag Archives: Kids

Pair Programming with an 8 Year Old

I read an interesting article by James Bach where he did some pair programming with his sister, who is not a programmer. It worked quite well.

This got me thinking that it might be fun to do with my son, Max, who is 8 years old. He’s been bugging me to make a computer game with him for ages. I thought it might be interesting if I did the programming and he “paired” me. The very act of explaining what I was doing should help make it interesting for both of us. Also, the challenge of getting him to understand what was going on would impose an interesting kind of discipline to the task.

So our initial attempt went ahead using Processing. We have made some solid progress so far. There were a few interesting things that I did a little differently because I was doing it with Max:

  1. We made very small iterative changes that produced a visible result. This meant that we often made small changes and then ran the code to see the result. Max loved this and it certainly discouraged the kind of development where you change the world then run it and try to fix 300 bugs at once.
  2. The first version was a hacked together mess with global variables and terrible architecture. Then as I needed to reuse code, I introduced the idea of a function and we did tiny bits of refactoring as we went.
  3. I did a lot more explaining that I would have done with another programmer. Understandable. He’s eight.

It’s early days, but it will interesting to see how much progress we’ll make.

Update: here is a link to an early version.

The Dragon and The Princess

Max (8) and Zoe (7) wrote a story by writing a sentence each…

The Dragon and The Princess

One day, there was a green smelly dragon. The dragon was guarding the princess. She was low down underneath the earth’s core. It was really hot under the earth’s core.

The dragon went down and checked for the princess. He was very mean and he said, “You’ll never get away!”.

The princess said .to herself “I do not like the dragon.” The dragon heard that and was very angry that she had tormented him. He said “you are going to be my servant instead of living in the dungeon”.

And he set her to work. She had to do the dishes, the washing, and make his bed. She even had to pull really heavy planks of wood to make the dragon’s fire.

One night, the princess escaped by breaking the window and getting out there. But she was not successful as the dragon heard her because she had tap shoes on, and roared after her.

The next night, she succeeded getting out the window without letting the dragon know. When she hit the ground, she had tap shoes on and woke the dragon up again, but she was too fast for the dragon and she got out, luckily.

She went to a little cottage with people in it. They said they could live there. The queen and king found her there, brought her back to the castle and the lived happily ever after.

No one knows what happened to the green smelly dragon of the underground prison.

The end.

By Max and Zoe