Move the Turtle App Review
App Name: Move the Turtle. Programming for kids
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Grades 3-6, Junior High
Skills Developed: Computer Programming, Logo, Spatial Intelligence
Available On/Price: Universal (iPhone/iPod/iPad) – $2.99
Reviewed on: iPad
Move the Turtle is an app designed to guide children through learning the Logo computer language from simple navigational programming commands through to repeated commands, saving programs for future use and incorporation into larger programs, and much more. The Logo language was developed in the ‘60s for use in education – teaching children to think logically and to serve as a simple but functional first computing language. Children use straight forward commands in combinations to propel the turtle across the screen (with or without a trail) to create various forms and effects.
Move the Turtle is a self-contained app that brings Logo programming to the touch screen. The instructional part of the app is found in the “Play” section and is divided into three chapters, the app moves from the basics “Let’s move!” through to fancier programming in “A little bit of magic” through to more advanced tasks in “Professor Turtle”. Each chapter contains nine tasks that are unlocked one by one as each previous task is completed.
Each task is divided into direct teaching through the task instructions (which can be displayed at any time), followed by a ‘hands-on’ segment where your child is required to write the program, play it, and see the results. Feedback is given immediately with hints on how to do better if needed. The turtle can play in three speeds, selected at the bottom of the screen. The tasks can be completed independently by confident readers due to the teaching and correction being delivered in response to your child’s played programs. Some parental involvement may be needed for troubleshooting at times.
A full Logo based composer is also included for creating and saving independent projects as well as a projects gallery where examples of Logo programs can be found and where your child can save his own work as well.
You can set up multiple accounts – every member of your family can have their own project set and track their own progress in stars, diamonds collected, and trophies earned. Each completed task is scored out of 3 stars, diamonds are bonuses that your child can aim their title to pick up via programming commands, and trophies are awarded at the end of each level.
This is a silent app; no narration or sound effects are included.
Other Notes: This app doesn’t include any ads, in-app purchases, external links, or social media integration.
What We Liked:
There are a few different Logo-based apps out there, but I haven’t seen one that equals the production values, comprehensiveness, and self-directed options that Move the Turtle contains. A child can grab this app and learn all the basics of Logo programming on their own (or with a bit of help from a parent).
My own daughter (nine-years-old) has already completed most of the tasks in all three levels of this programming app! We’ve never tackled programming in any capacity before, so I was impressed at how independently she dug in (I didn’t even know she’d gone so far until I checked her account!) and how well she understood the material – there were a few activities where it looks like she can use some parental help to troubleshoot and clarify, but overall, she did great!
Not only does learning Logo help develop general computer programming skills that can be applied to future programming languages, but it also calls into use logical thinking skills to troubleshoot programs that don’t produce the desired results, and helps to develop spatial intelligence through predicting the course the turtle will take across the visual field in response to the programming commands.
I love that the app can be used with several children with the multiple user profiles, and the app is just very well put together – the design is clear and visually appealing.
What We Didn’t Like:
The addition of sound effects and narration for audio learners would be a nice addition to the app.
Move the Turtle is a comprehensive, self-directed approach to learning a first computer programming language that will help to develop both general programming skills as well as encourage your child to practice logical and spatial thinking abilities. This first step for budding programmers is well designed and naturally engaging.
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!