I started teaching my son Python turtle graphics this week. He’s only 5, but he is absolutely mad for computers and is thrilled to get to use them to do something.

I first learned to program using turtle graphics in Logo when I was in third grade. It was back in the 1980s, when computers were too expensive for my family to own, so it was also the first time I ever used a computer. My mom signed me up for a class at the local community college. We all used Apple IIs in the computer lab, which were probably old even then. Most of those machines had green monochrome monitors, and all of them had two 5.25” floppy drives. Now, of course, he is using my old MacBook Pro on my couch, and coding with Python in Visual Studio Code.

We have been working through some simple exercises, like finding different ways to draw a square. He understands looping already, and asked how to create an infinite loop to draw the square (and watch the turtle move) endlessly.

He and I are progressing very slowly, mostly because he asks lots and lots of questions, and partially because he is interested in doing things with turtle graphics that I was not prepared to teach him. (I had planned to teach him to draw lines and shapes. He is more interested in turning the turtle into a rocketship and moving it all around the screen.)

He is getting it. I installed Pythonista on his iPad last night, and this morning he used it to write a Python program all on his own, starting with:

from turtle import *

It’s pretty cool.