What is Tynker?
Tynker is a web-based educational coding platform where children can learn the basics of computer programming. Activities range anywhere from grades k-12. I have only used activities within the 1st-6th-grade range. It can be accessed a few different ways as well:
- Parents can sign their kids up for free and have access to a limited number of activities.
- Parents can pay to give their children access to nearly unlimited activities.
- Teachers can sign students up for a free account with limited access.
- School's can pay to have access to a specific number of student accounts with full curriculum access. Our school chose this route which appears to be the best bang for the buck.
Overall, the program is wonderful. Tynker is a relatively young company that appears to be growing and improving every year. It has Google Classroom integration, great customer support, and a relatively user-friendly interface for teachers and most importantly students. It took my colleague and me about a year or so to really get the hang of things and we are still learning new things every day. I would say we have a solid grasp on the program at the moment. We have used some of Tynker's curriculum for instruction but overall we have made our own lessons based on whatever curriculum is being taught within the grade levels. This year we have become more familiar with creating tutorials to go along with our activities. Templates make it much easier for students who fall behind to get caught back up.
I'll share some of the activities we have done so far along with student and/or teacher examples and/or templates.
2nd Grade Projects
For second grade we have made a couple of different programs with the children. One focused on writing word problems in math through breakout rooms. The other focused on creating an interactive presentation on U.S. Symbols.
Here is a breakout room showcase from Tynker. Click on some of the projects and test them out:
We have not finished creating our symbol presentations but I can still share some works in progress. Even though they are not finished you should be able to get a feel for the project's purpose.
3rd Grade Projects
Our third graders took on a slightly more complicated project that involved representing the Sun, Earth, and the Moon how they behave in space. We pretended aliens were visiting our Solar System and investigating the Sun, Moon, and Earth. We also had the students add facts about each of the celestial bodies. Here are some of the completed projects.
4th Grade Projects
This year we have decided to focus solely on science labs with the 4th grade. However, in past years we have put together various Tynker projects centered around science. Here is a past project we completed with them revolving around electrical circuits.
We've had fun venturing outside our comfort zone with 5th grade. Their projects have been a bit more complicated. So far we have created an interactive photosynthesis project, a predator and prey game, and now we are focused on making an interactive timeline centered around Black History Month. Feel free to click on the student-created projects below to see what they were able to make in Tynker. The timelines and some other student projects are still works in progress.
Here is the timeline tutorial I created which includes instructions: Timeline Tutorial
6th Grade Projects
In 6th grade, we have spent some time creating some fairly complex problems. We started with the creation of an interactive animal cell. Students drew all the parts of a cell using the Tynker program where the user could click on any part of the cell and it would give information about that part. We also completed a project on Ancient Mesopotamia where they represented themselves as a narrator giving a tour of that time period through timed slides. They have also been working on the same project as the 5th graders in which they are to create a timeline for Black History Month. Below you can find some of their projects.
Here is the Animal Cell tutorial I created: Animal Cell Tutorial
This is in no way, shape, or form a full review of the program. I will probably do a couple more follow-ups in the future to touch on different aspects of the program. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I have to bring this post to a close. Overall, as I stated before, I love the program but it is not without its flaws. There are some serious limitations within the program itself that restrict the students' ability to create some of their projects. If you are looking for more variety and possibilities to create then MIT's Scratch is where it's at. However, if you are looking for simplicity and a curriculum to follow, albeit a small but growing curriculum, then Tynker is the way to go.