Daisy the Dinosaur
Welcome to 2012! Family is scattered across the US so we've been traveling since before Thanksgiving. I took a (long) break between Thanksgiving and the New Year but have a lot to share so...let's get to it!
There is a shortage of computer programmers in the United States and whether it's FORTRAN, Python or C++, the industry is booming. Daisy the Dino, created by Hopscotch is a wonderful way to introduce computer programming to you, your child, and your students.
This is a free iPad app I ran across and have fallen in love with although, I will admit that my opinion may be a bit skewed (my husband is a computer engineer). For any parent who played with BASIC as a kid (if you remember the green turtle moving across your screen you know what I'm talking about), or for any parent who has been asked the question "how did they do that" as you watch a cartoon or video game with your child: this is the beginning to that answer.
The interface is very simple; set up as a drag and drop. With just a few commands Daisy runs, turns, jumps and rolls across the screen.
Toddlers intuitively know how to use iPads, pre-schoolers are formally introduced to computers and STEM education is now the focus throughout K-12 education. This is a great, nonthreatening, introduction to computer programming.