Hopscotch (iPad, Free): From the makers of Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch is a visual introduction to programming for kids ages 8-12. Kids can select preset characters or create text objects and manipulate them by dragging-and-dropping method blocks. For example, you can move an object by a set amount on the X-Y axis, change the scale, or repeat actions. The app offers just right amount of controls for kids just starting out. They’re very limited in what they can do, but this means kids can play with the iPad on their own and learn how each basic method works. (So, you don’t have to feel guilty saying “Find out for yourself” when your kid asks “How do I make the monkey move backwards?”) In one week, Elise made eighteen animations on her own on Hopscotch, substituting text blocks for the characters she wanted to animate. Most of those animations were simple explorations of what you can to the objects, but she learned things like how to position objects with math and time events.