Coding at Home: Wednesday, 25th March

We’re streaming live today at 1pm, Irish time at

We launched our first Twitch stream yesterday, which you can watch there. I’ve also uploaded the video to YouTube.

The beginning of the video will help you get set up, so long as you have an iPad and an internet connection.

If you prefer to read your instructions, yesterday’s post will show you where to go to get Swift Playgrounds and Everyone Can Code Puzzles, the ebook we’re using.

Today’s Session @ 1pm Irish time

For today’s session we’re going to walk through some more lessons about commands: how to use them, how to figure out when they’re not doing what we expected, or debugging. We’ll look at strategies for solving puzzles, which is a lot of what programming is.

So tune in, grab your iPad, and spend a little time with me, coding!

Coding at Home: Part Four

In Part One of this special Coding at Home series we looked at our new app: Learning Variables.

In Part Two we looked at the Swift Playgrounds we’ve developed at The Code Hub and how to get them on your Mac or iPad.

For Part Three we checked out one of my favorite playgrounds, Text Adventure.

Code with Me

Now we’re going to try a slightly different tack.

Starting this week we’re going to hold live coding sessions to teach you about coding.

Since I use iPads in my class, I’ll be taking advantage of those devices for the course. They don’t necessarily have to be spring chickens, either, so long as you can install Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds is available on the App Store for free. Just have a search for “swift playgrounds” and tap on the GET button.

And that’s it, that’s all you’ll need for the first few lessons.

If you’re following along at home, and all of you should be (at home, that is), we’re going to start with material from Apple’s excellent Everyone Can Code curriculum.


You can get these free ebooks from the Bookstore at

Teacher and student guide are available here:

We’ll be working from the student guide, but if you’re a parent (or a kid teaching another kid, your parent, or your pets), the teacher guide gives some great suggestions about how to teach coding, with varying levels of difficulty.

So hopefully I’ll see you at 1pm, Irish time, today.

We kick it all off on Twitch at

Coding at Home: Part Three

In Part One of this special Coding at Home series we looked at our new app: Learning Variables.

In Part Two we looked at the Swift Playgrounds we’ve developed at The Code Hub and how to get them on your Mac or iPad.

Text Adventure!

For part three, we’re going to look at the Text Adventure playground we’ve developed, in particular. This is one of my personal favorites, because it reminds me of my own start in programming; BASIC, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy interactive fiction, and MOOs.

The playground is designed to take advantage of a little library I wrote that models a story with a number of rooms, through which your protagonist navigates. The goal is to use coding to be a little bit creative and get the kids (and adults) telling stories and using code as a means to and end, rather than the end, itself.

Getting the Playground

To start, go grab the playground from the Code Hub’s Playgrounds feed (explained in Part Two). You’ll see the Text Adventure playground front and center now:

More Playgrounds: Getting the Text Adventure playground

Telling Stories

Once you have that in Playgrounds, you can open it and you’ll see the introduction to the whole shebang.

Pretty self-explanatory so far, right?

We don’t have to write any code at all, just hit the “Run My Code” button and off we go!

I won’t post any spoilers here, but the stories are gripping, edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff.

Once you’ve exhausted all the possibilities in the first story (and that might happen pretty quick), you can hit the Next button to move on.

The playground is designed to dip you into coding your own story gently and follows a progression that looks like this:

You can skip around if you like, of course, but I try to introduce concepts that will introduce you to code and the features of the Story library as we go. So try it out. If you come up with a particularly cool twist or story of your own, use the built-in tools to record your story.

From the three dots in the menu, select Record Movie to start capturing your story.

Full Screen

One last tip, the stories work best in fullscreen mode. You can enter fullscreen by tapping on the divider between your code and the story view.

Drag to the left, and the story view will take up the full screen. To get out of full screen you’ll just tap on the left side of the screen (you might see the faint arrow on that edge).

You can see a demo of this in action here:

Happy story-writing, and we’ll see you again soon!

Coding at Home: Part Two

In Part One, we looked at a relatively painless way to talk about and experience variables.

Swift Playgrounds from The Code Hub

One of the other little tweaks we’ve just shipped is an update to our Text Adventure Playground. But let’s start with a little (re)introduction of Playgrounds, for the uninitiated.

If you didn’t already know, The Code Hub has a suite of Swift Playgrounds for use in the iPad (and now Mac!) Playgrounds app. When you download Playgrounds, which is a free download, you’ll see a bar along the bottom of the screen with the headline “More Playgrounds.”

More Playgrounds!

Apple provides an excellent array of playgrounds authored to teach you how to code, to learn augmented reality development. Or some innovative uses of content and code like the Cipher playground. The app is free, as are playgrounds you can download from Apple and third parties (like The Code Hub).

But if you are on an iPad and go to you can click on the Subscribe button to add The Code Hub’s suite of playgrounds to the app. Alternatively, on the Mac version of Playgrounds you can scroll to the bottom of the additional playgrounds and you’ll see the option to enter a subscription URL:

Enter in and you’ll be good to go. You’ll see a confirmation dialog like this:

And, once you hit Subscribe, you’ll see a list of our playgrounds.

Right now, the 18th of March, 2020, we have six. I’ll try and touch on each of them in the next few weeks. But for now, you can download any of them onto your device and play around with them. There is a bit of explanatory text for each of the playgrounds, so you won’t be left completely at sea.

It helps to have a bit of Swift knowledge, but that, too, I’ll be touching on in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.

Coding at Home: Part One

Well, it’s been a long time, but we’re still here, and in fact, we come bearing news.

While we’ve been stuck, pottering around the house, we improved a couple of our learning resources so that you, too, can use these to exercise your coding muscles!

Learning Variables

The first is our app, Learning Variables. We’ve long been using this app in our classrooms to help teach the concept of variables, but now we’ve released it for iPads, iPhones, and the Mac (thanks to Catalyst!).

There are a few built-in stories to start you off. Pick a story, and you’ll see a list of variables to fill in with some hints about what kind of value we’re looking for:

Enter in a few words according to the hint, and you’ll wind up with something like this:

It’s a little goofy exercise that will show students how variables can be used. They can go back and change what they entered and watch the story change. Or they can write their own story. We’ll rip out a few key words and create variables for students to fill in and re-generate their story with their new variable values in place. It’s handiest to have the kids write their own stories and then hand the devices around the classroom (or home) and see what their classmates (or siblings, parents, pets*) do to their stories… but I’d love to hear how you use it in your classroom (or home)!

If you have any requests or bugs, feel free to drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll see what we can do.

* Please note, pets are terrible at coming up with values for these variables.