Use the Barrel of Monkeys toy as a visual aid to explain linked lists.

  • In this demonstration, your finger will represent the pointer and each monkey will represent a node in the linked list.
    • You can spray paint the monkeys different colors to make explaining different algorithms easier.
  • Hold the chain of monkeys by your pointer finger to indicate the first item in the linked list and demonstrate how a pointer to the first item in the list gives you access to the whole list.
  • The monkeys can help show common mistakes that occur when inserting or deleting elements, such as how inserting an element can lead to losing all subsequent elements if not done carefully.
    • If you drop monkeys off of the chain by accident, use this opportunity to explain how "pointer manipulation creates the potential for losing access to allocated nodes."
  • Interactive activities of this kind help students remember abstract concepts.
    • This activity introduces additional vocabulary: garbage (the floor) and the heap (the barrel).
  • To learn more, read Jim Huggins’ paper.

More about this tip

External Source
Interview with Jim Huggins