Whether you or your child is interested in learning how to code, there is a terrific tool to get you started. Hopscotch for iOS is free, fun, and ideal for beginners. With simple taps, you can let your imagination run wild and learn the basics of programming at the same time.
The Basic Principles
With Hopscotch, you will learn the fundamentals of computer science and programming by creating games. Instead of physically writing lines of code, you will learn through a block-based concept. This allows you to see the written code, but create it using blocks of characters, words, and phrases.
The core principles include decomposition, generalization, abstraction, pattern recognition, and algorithm design. And, even though this may sound complicated, you will learn these theories in a way that makes it enjoyable.
Hopscotch includes several lessons with optional tutorials and a structured curriculum. Each lesson follows several concepts:
- Sequence — The order you give instructions to a computer.
- Event — A trigger that causes the computer to do something.
- Loop — Code that repeats.
- Value or Variable — A placeholder for a number.
- Conditional Statements — If (this is true), Then (do this).
Coding With Hopscotch
Now that the good stuff is out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part: coding with Hopscotch. You will go through each lesson with a guided tutorial video. The videos provide both audio and visuals, which makes following along super simple. You can stop, pause, rewind, and fast-forward the videos, so you can learn at your own pace.
In the first lesson, Jump In, you will learn how to make a character jump when it is tapped. This simple lesson helps you to build on the concepts and core principles by using When (this happens), Do (this).
You start with a blank canvas and follow the tutorial. For an example of how easy Hopscotch is to use, here are the steps you use to create Jump In:
- Tap the plus and select a character.
- When the character pops onto the screen, tap Add code to insert the instructions.
- To begin with a When statement, click the is Tapped block to place it above.
- Next, add the action the character will take When it is Tapped. Click Jump to place it in the instructions.
- Tap the play button at the top to view your creation and test it out.
If the character jumps when you tap it, then you are successful!
What You Can Create
If you work through each lesson in order, you will create a Whack-a-Mole game, move onto Geometry Dash, and even make Flappy Bird. Several free lessons are available that will keep you busy for some time. Then, you can unlock additional tutorials with an in-app purchase if you like.
Once you complete the free tutorials and have a handle on how to code with Hopscotch, you can make your own games from scratch. Tap the big plus icon at the bottom, name your project, and you are on your way to creating whatever you want.
Aside from games, you can make art, music, movies, quizzes, and more. Each design you create starts with an object. This can be a character, shape, text, emoji, or even an image. Then, you add the code with simple taps of your choices of the almost endless possibilities.
Pick from movements like spin or grow, make objects disappear by setting their invisibility, and use device actions such as a when it is shaken or tilted.
From moving backgrounds to complex games to beautiful animations, Hopscotch gives you the tools. Not only can you create something amazing, but learn how to program at the same time.
Simplicity Makes It Easy
Hopscotch offers a wonderful way to build a foundation that is used in various coding languages. With simple taps to pop objects, actions, movements, conditions, variables, and controls into boxes, learning how to code is easier than you think. And, it is a perfect way to help kids start their programming journey.
Plus, you can see the code in a combination of written and visual forms after placing your instructions. For instance, if you make an octopus chase your finger around the screen, you will see the code as “When octopus is pressed, follow finger.” This gives you the words and a picture of the character.
Or if you want the octopus to turn purple when you shake your device, you will see “When device is shaken, set color purple.” Along with the words in this example, comes a picture of the iPhone and representation of the color.
Learning to code this way takes away the intimidation factor that some might feel. You can gain a strong understanding of the concepts, almost without realizing it. Then, if you move onto taking a programming class or head back to college, you will be a step ahead. And for kids, what could be more fun than creating their very own game as they learn?
You will notice plenty of extra features and functions within Hopscotch that add to its usability as well as its enjoyment.
- Copy projects to make different versions.
- Work on drafts a little at a time with the automatic save feature.
- Publish your creations for other users to see.
- Check out what fellow Hopscotch-ers are making and save your favorites, share them, or just get some inspiration.
- Use the search feature to find specific types of projects.
Hopscotch is available for free and designed for both iPhone and iPad. If you enjoy it, you can sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription to receive new tutorials each month and access to the full tool set.
What Are You Going to Create With Hopscotch?
While Hopscotch may be intended for children ages 9–11, it is enjoyable and educational for adults as well. And, since it is available for free it is definitely worth your time. Will you create a new hit game, incredible piece of artwork, or a fascinating background that changes color?
Check out Hopscotch and let us know what awesome creations you or your child came up with!
Image Credits: Solis Images/Shutterstock
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