Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks

Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks

Fall 2014 Mobile Apps
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Developer: TYNKER
Download Price: $4.99
Platform: iPad/Android

Tynker is designed to introduce basic concepts of coding to children as young as seven. (And to adults raised in the age of typewriters.)

There are four adventure packages from beginner to intermediate in which the player must connect (drag and drop) visual blocks of code to have the character/object perform specific tasks. Beginning with Codey's Quest, a critter named Codey has wandered off from his computer and needs help getting back. The first code block has the words "on start." The movement blocks, labeled "walk" and "jump" hook connect to the "on start" block. The player has to figure out the least number of "walks," "jumps" and "repeat" blocks required for Codey to get to the jelly bean. If the player's code is correct, a bonus point round is the reward before moving on to the next of 20 levels of play for Codey's Quest. If not, text hints are given.

Upon completion of each challenge, the player gets a tally of how many blocks were used, how many hints were required to solve the problem, how long it took and how many points have been earned. It is also possible to reset the puzzle and start over. There is a parents' section that offers the option of emailed puzzle solutions and to reset the puzzles.

The other three games advance in difficulty, programming goals, and satisfaction in completion. Lost in Space provides players with three adventure storylines (72 levels in total) in which conditional logic is used to lead astronaut Biff to his moon base. Dragon Journey introduces functions and subroutines to lead your dragon (or three) through the forest. And Lazer Racer, a futuristic racing game, challenges players to draw complex geometric shapes using simple commands.

The full adventure pack we reviewed has more than 200 programming challenges in which players can practice the fundamentals of programming as they learn to master pattern recognition, sequencing, problem solving, and even how to debug.

Kristin Harris   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Kristin Reiber Harris is an artist, animator and educator who has created over 50 short form animations with a focus on educational media for young children. Her work has been broadcast on HBO Family and screened in numerous film festivals around the country. She is currently developing interactive media introducing young children to great works of art through stories. Kristin writes about her interests in kids, art and technology at

Look for this product at:
Available on iTunes

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