- string formatting (outputting song lyrics that contain predictable patterns, usually kids songs)
- calculating simple math problems like restaurant tip split between friends, or final % abv of a mixed drink of two liquids with different volumes and different %abv
- using randomness to generate simple things like images or natural language based on a variety of inputs
- producing sound via web audio APIs and reaffirming music theory (notes, harmony, scales, musical instruments like theremin and piano)
- creating very basic games with a simple event loop
- creating very basic turn-based games like hangman
- recreating a number of dead-simple mobile apps: reminder list, memo pad, clock, etc
As I learned to program, I basically went through each aspect of education I had learned as a child and teenager and not only reaffirmed and brushed up what I thought I knew, codifying it into executable code I could demonstrate and show to others - but I expanded what I knew by harnessing language + math together in an interactive environment.
Personally, I see the computer as an AMAZING tool for thinking, but that's only if you're the one writing the software.
Computers for kids are as good an idea as literacy, and numeracy - it's like the next level of literacy where your thoughts come alive.
However, just like how literacy is a huge benefit to any child, reading trash literature is bad.
I think we need to stop lumping all computer use into one category. Perhaps there's little benefit to some uses of a computer, like using software written by others, or using it for little more than a television set…but computers as a tool for mind-expansion are unbeatable with any other tool we have.
We need to teach kids how to be COMPUTER users, not SOFTWARE users. It's when you are the person writing the software that you're fully using the power of the machine.