I remember learning BASIC back when I was a kid. Sure, it’s dated (so are my programming skills) but learning programming helped me a lot in my work. I know that some grade schools and high schools around the world are now teaching Java or even Visual Basic .NET. While those can benefit kids who are looking at computer science or engineering as possible careers, learning hardcore OOP can be overkill for some kids.
Nonetheless, I do acknowledge the importance of teaching programming to hone logical skills but I suggest using a toned down, user-friendly environment to do so. Enter Scratch. It’s a kid-oriented programming language developed by folks over at MIT.
Some might think this is exclusively for kids only with the use of large fonts and colorful visual, but it somehow reminds me of Smalltalk with the “building blocks” approach to programming. Makes sense when you’re going to use this for teaching kids the beauty of programming in a fun and vibrant way.
It currently has versions for Windows and Mac OS X and a version for Linux is up and coming.
It even has support for an community to share and discuss their works using Scratch. Learn more by visiting the Scratch site. Download links also available there.