- Introducing Hopscotch -- Fun Game Programming for Kids
- Using the Hopscotch App
- Programming a Basic Game
Using the Hopscotch App
Hopscotch is both the name of the app and the name of the underlying object-based programming language. So you use the Hopscotch app to program with the Hopscotch language. Easy enough to understand.
The Hopscotch app runs on iPads and iPhones, although it's a lot easier to drag things around on the iPad's larger screen. (Most schools tend to use Hopscotch on iPads, not on phones.) Once you install and log into the Hopscotch app, you or your child can navigate to four different sections by tapping the appropriate icon at the bottom of the screen.
The Levels screen contains a collection of projects designed by the Hopscotch Team. These are not complete games, but rather the beginnings of games that students can work on to finish. It's kind of like moving into an unfinished house; the structure's there, but students get to put their own personal stamp on it as they complete the project.
The projects on the Levels screen range in complexity from Level 1 (most basic) through (at this writing) Level 37. In addition there are bonus challenges that students can download and complete.
Figure 2 Projects on the Levels screen, created by the Hopscotch Team.
To view details about a project, just tap the project tile. To download the project to your device, tap the "branch" icon on the project tile; the project can then be found on your Me screen. Remember, though, any Levels project you download isn't complete yet, so your child will need to view and edit the game's code. This is done by tapping See Code at the top right corner of the game screen. Your child can then start adding new code blocks to the project -- and play the game when he's done!
The Explore screen contains tons of projects created by other Hopscotch users. Some of these games are good, others not so much -- but that's the joy of sharing your work with a larger community.
The projects on the Explore screen are organized into sections, accessible by tapping the appropriate tabs at the top of the screen -- Following, Trending, Featured, and Newest. There are also tabs for popular hashtags, such as #fashion, #3D, #movies, and more.
Figure 3 Games from other Hopscotch users, on the Explore screen.
To "like" a given game, tap the heart icon in the game panel. To download a game for future play, tap the "branch" icon. To start playing the game right now, without saving it to your device, just tap the game panel. This loads the game, ready to play.
Of course, looking at how another person coded a game is a fantastic way to learn how to do it yourself. To that end, students can view and edit the code for any game they download. Just tap See Code at the top right corner, and Hopscotch moves into game editing mode. After the student makes changes, she's prompted to either publish the revised game as a new project, save it as a draft, or just continue on to play more projects.
The Create screen is where students create new game projects. We'll get into this in more detail in a moment, but they can start with a new blank project or with a project template that provides a good head start for specific types of games. For example, Hopscotch includes templates for Food Fight, Snowboarder, Dancing Turkey, Treasure Dive, and other simple games.
Figure 5 Creating new games on the Create screen.
The Me screen is where all the projects your child creates are stored. There are tabs for in-process Drafts, projects completed and Published, and your child's Favorites from other Hopscotch users.