Fun with Hello Ruby and cardboard computers

As I mentioned in a previous post – Miss Chu and I are planning to learn Scratch programming over the June holidays. So, as a precursor to that, I picked up a copy of Hello Ruby – a picture storybook which offers a gentle introduction to… computational thinking. (Sounds incongruous!) But so far, so good – Miss Chu likes the book (despite a slightly iffy storyline) and it actually does offer a child-friendly context to discuss concepts like sequencing, patterns, loops, coding and so on.


Some of the activities already reflect a very Scratch-style interface – so a good pictorial intro to drag and drop programming.

There are fun activities suggested at the back which reinforce some of these ideas; one that is driving me crazy is Miss Chu pretending to be a “dumb” computer which can only perform small step by step commands to get anything done! The Hello Ruby website also has some extras you can download, and the girls had fun yesterday making (and playing with!) mini cardboard “laptops”. So Miss Chu decided to make a little video report of it for the blog!

Miss Chu explains computer components and manages to FaceTime Little Miss on her cardboard tech…

And I learned a little more recently at a ‘Scratch for Arduino’ workshop at a local library where we got to program little bits of hardware like servos and LED screens.


I was the only female participating at this workshop! Sigh.

So we’re taking some baby steps forward and are wondering what cool things we can dream up with Scratch and beyond. But I do wonder whether coding as it stands now will be totally obsolete by the time the girls grow up? Will AI and quantum computing completely change the rules? There’s no way of preparing the kids for an unknown future – but trying new things, being creative, and learning how to learn – will always be relevant.



  1. Lovely video. Miss Chu and her sis are really good actresses. Nice Tricks =)

    TV quality stuff.

    Looking forward to more of the same.

    • Thanks! Yeah didn’t realise Miss Chu was pretty good in front of a camera until we started making videos for the blog!

  2. Miss Chu, this is brilliant! Well done, another fantastic video. Luigi and I are super impressed at your computer knowledge!

    • Ha ha – ask her next week and see if she still remembers. Although she does have a freakishly good memory sometimes!

  3. The principles will still be relevant. I learned BASIC in the late 80s (gosh that makes me feel old!) and I’m sure R and Matlab would’ve been harder to pick up without that background.

    • Really you learned BASIC in primary school?!! But good to know it came in handy later! Yes I’m sure things will change but the foundation laid will be useful nonetheless. I thought they would teach coding in primary school here but it doesn’t seem to be the case – at least, not in every school!

      • RGPS GEP circa 1989. Though I never did any serious programming until my PhD. Mark would argue that programming is best learnt through tinkering on your own!

  4. Miss Chu, I think I’ve actually started to understand computer components thanks to your video! Perhaps I need my own copy of Hello Ruby…
    Loved the cameo appearance of ‘cheeky’ Little Miss 🙂 Well done girls.
    Since my laptop is broken, if you could start building me a new one, that would be great!

    • There’s nothing like having to explain something to kids to help you finally manage to grasp it in your own mind – I’ve learnt a lot too! From the looks of things, Miss Chu will be building you a Linux. She was about to go for Apple but then noticed the cute penguin!!

  5. Great post Tammy, good to see you all embracing technology and having fun sharing your experiences!

  6. Hi,
    I first saw this video a while ago (my niece Linda shared it in FB), and loved it already then. It now popped up again embedded in a blog entry, and this time I searched a bit further and found this lovely blog. Your girls are so happy to have you as their mother! Experimenting in a playful way with a parent (who knows a lot, but does not let that destroy the magic of play), is the greatest learning experience (IMO). All the best for your lovely family!

  7. Hi, where did you purchase Hello Ruby?

  8. Ollie and Ashley Robinson September 2, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Hi from Hong Kong. My kids Ollie and Ashley both really like your videos and have been making their own Hello Ruby computers too. Thanks for making such fun videos.

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