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Small-Basic

Microsoft Small Basic - Simple Programming For Kids

Small Basic is a simplified version of Microsoft's programming language Visual Basic, suitable for kids and beginners. It includes dozens of lessons and exercises that explain basic programming concepts in detail.


For any child that has an avid interest in computers, one of the most magical experiences is when they write their first program. Microsoft seeks to introduce that amazing experience to students as well as adults with an impressive new programming tutoring tool called Small Basic.

Small Basic is essentially a "small" version of Microsoft's well known programming language called Visual Basic. Visual Basic itself is anything but basic, so by offering Small Basic, Microsoft can make inroads with younger students. Small Basic may be a training tool, but it is a powerful enough programming tool so that some users have even created highly functional and intricate games such as board games or even simulations.

However, the real value of this software comes from its use in the classroom or in a home-school setting, where each lesson is laid out by Microsoft in a series of instructional lessons followed by exercises where the student can put what they've learned into practical use.

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The Small Basic Application


When the student first download and installs the Small Basic application, it isn't really obvious how the software works. There is no instruction set or directory provided where students can just choose from available commands and functions. Instead, the student must actually work through the lessons and learn each of the functions individually. While this is more time consuming than a more visual tool may be, this lesson-based approach may actually provide better retention of that information.

programming for kids
Lessons and Curriculum


The most impressive thing about Small Basic isn't so much the application itself, but the fact that Microsoft put so much effort into coming up with a high-quality curriculum that consists of dozens of lessons. You can find each lesson under the "Small Basic Curriculum" header in the right navigational bar on the Small Basic website. Ideally, students should work through the lessons, starting from Lesson 1.1 and moving forward.

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Slideshow Lessons


Each of the lessons are created as a PowerPoint slideshow presentation, so it's a given that teachers or parents will need PowerPoint available in order to work through each lesson with students. The PowerPoint lessons consist of animated slides that work through explanations of each set of instructions. Every lesson builds upon what the student has already learned in past lessons.

computer programming for kids
A Lesson Slide


Each slide is well designed by Microsoft, and obviously developed by someone with a good understanding of how students learn. The animated nature of each slide will hold the students interest, as actual snippets of code are displayed and the different elements of the sample program are pointed out.

computer programming for kids
Writing Programs in Small Basic


After each lesson, students can then go back to the Small Basic programming environment and put what they've learned into practice. Once they start typing the commands they've learned, helpful tips will pop up on the right side of the screen, showing the student additional information about the function and the many different properties and settings they can use.

computer programming for kids
Autotext


You can even see elements of other Microsoft products appear throughout the Small Basic application. For example, all the student has to do is type a letter, and the program will provide a pop-up box of suggestions of words that the student is probably trying to type. This is particularly useful for when students can't quite remember the full name of a function they wanted to use. All they have to do is type the first few letters and they'll see the function listed in the pop-up box.

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Running Test Programs


When the student is finished typing their test programs into the Small Basic application, all they have to do is click the big blue "Run" button in the top menu. Small Basic will switch into "runtime" mode, and the application window will appear, displaying the textbox or images that the student programmed.

kids programming language
Advanced Games


For anyone that thinks Small Basic isn't capable of producing anything of any real value, all you have to do is browse some of the sample programs from the forums. Students often post the results of some of their work there, and you'll find everything from simple mathematical programs, to some impressive advanced game environments like tic tac toe or even a graphical driving simulator. The software is really only limited by the level of creativity and imagination of the student.

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Code Samples Gallery


To get to the MSDN code samples gallery, just click on the link to the forums from the main Small Basic web page, and then click the "code" link at the top of the page. The Code Samples Gallery is filled with plenty of sample programs students can use as a starting point to learn some of the more advanced programming techniques.

programming for kids
Graduating to Visual Basic


After students have worked through all of the lessons and reached a level where the Small Basic programming environment just doesn't offer the more advanced functionality that students desire, they can make use of Visual Basic by clicking on the "Graduate" button in the top menu. This button will automatically export the student's existing Small Basic code into a full Visual Basic format. Students can then continue working on the software in the more advanced Visual Basic programming environment. Microsoft now offers Visual Basic Express for students that want to learn how to write VB for the Microsoft Windows environment.

Small Basic is really an excellent free tool that educators can use to bring programming skill into the classroom. The ability to think and program in a logical way is a skill set that extends well outside of the classroom. It is important for educators to understand, however, that Small Basic is intended primarily as an environment to learn VB programming.

To that end, Small Basic will not teach C++, Java or other programming languages. However, in learning the basic structure and terminology of programming, understanding Visual Basic will make it much easier to learn those more advanced languages down the road.


Written April 4, 2011 by Ryan Dube


Categories:
Programming



User Reviews & Comments

12/08/2014 MS
hi, do you have any small quizzes I can take for this small basic, I am doing it in school, and there is going to be a test, and I need to revise, so can you send me some websites with quizzes, or add in some quizzes to this website, overall, very very useful, thank you

04/02/2012 Chris Byrd
I have a 11yr old daughter that is interested in programming, I hope this would be a way that she could do just that.

04/02/2012 Chris Byrd
I have a 11yr old daughter that is interested in programming, I hope this would be a way that she could do just that.

03/28/2012 Rob
The program does not successfully export programs to Visual Basic dot Net 2010 Express "graduate button". Maybe it will export to an older version. There doesn't seem to be any change to the keywords or syntax. VB 2010 doesn't recognize the Smallbasic key words. I tested it for VB 2010 Express with even programs provided by the Smallbasic website. Very puzzling and a real downer.

03/28/2012 Rob
The program does not successfully export programs to Visual Basic dot Net 2010 Express "graduate button". Maybe it will export to an older version. There doesn't seem to be any change to the keywords or syntax. VB 2010 doesn't recognize the Smallbasic key words. I tested it for VB 2010 Express with even programs provided by the Smallbasic website. Very puzzling and a real downer.

02/18/2012 Frank
I would like to lean basic programming just for fun and put on app store.

02/18/2012 Frank
I would like to lean basic programming just for fun and put on app store.

11/02/2011 Carlos Silva
É um bom começo para aprender a programar.

11/02/2011 Carlos Silva
É um bom começo para aprender a programar.

09/16/2011 sankararaman
I have a 16 year old son with Noonan's syndrome, hearing impaired (91%) learning dificulties, poor memory. He is in his 11 th Standard (+1) and plays chess.Is there any software to enaable him under stand accountancy.

09/16/2011 sankararaman
I have a 16 year old son with Noonan's syndrome, hearing impaired (91%) learning dificulties, poor memory. He is in his 11 th Standard (+1) and plays chess.Is there any software to enaable him under stand accountancy.

05/05/2011 Chris
Is Small Basic compiled or interpreted or both? Network security restrictions prevent my pupils from generating executables over the school network.

05/05/2011 Chris
Is Small Basic compiled or interpreted or both? Network security restrictions prevent my pupils from generating executables over the school network.

04/23/2011 Raul del castillo
i download this program to learn about basic programming and the most important of it is for my children as a father i can not afford to send them to school because i dont have a job anymore. i have tried to find but because im already old its very difficult to find a job. thank you for this free opportunity.

04/23/2011 Raul del castillo
i download this program to learn about basic programming and the most important of it is for my children as a father i can not afford to send them to school because i dont have a job anymore. i have tried to find but because im already old its very difficult to find a job. thank you for this free opportunity.

04/10/2011 Christian Paulet
May I obtain Microsoft Small Basic - Simple Programming For Kids In French, please. Thank you very much.

04/10/2011 Christian Paulet
May I obtain Microsoft Small Basic - Simple Programming For Kids In French, please. Thank you very much.

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