Teaching python (programming) to children

Dr. David J. Ritchie, Sr. ritchie at svs.com
Wed Nov 7 02:26:06 CET 2001

With regard to your question and general topic...

Brian Elmegaard wrote:

> So, any comments are appreciated, especially on: Are there good reasons
> for advocating python being a language one could teach children
> programming with

I would like to mention that I've had good success teaching Middle School
students Perl in an after school computer club setting.  I have been doing it
since 1998.  It took me a couple of try's to come up with an approach that

First, I took a more text book like approach.  That was not very successful.
Then, I took a example by example approach.  That worked better.

I started off from an English language perspective as a way of talking about
the syntax and moved more into straight Perl.

I tried to key it to the "language arts" curriculum and the push for literacy so
the focus was to learn enough Perl to write a "Choose Your Own Adventure"
game.  In one very successful club season, I ended up with 16 different "adventures"
written by kids on their own, ranging from Teletubbies to "Bill Gates vs. Apple Computer".

Though they learned other aspects of Perl, the adventure program mainly involved
if statements and print statements.  For some in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades,
abstract thinking is only just starting to turn on, so the concreteness of the adventure
program was an asset.

This season I'm going to try to do the Computer Club sessions again but with
Python instead of Perl.  It should be lots of fun.

You can see the Perl handout for the later successful sessions at


You can see the evaluation of the first attempt and some discussion about the
experience at:


In a couple of months, I will post to my web site my experiences doing similar things with Python.


Dr. David J. Ritchie
djrassoc01 at mindspring.com

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