I would suggest that if you want to get all interactive and graphical that Processing
is a good alternative. There are a lot of good example programs that do cool stuff as starting points. Needs a decent Java install.
Perl SDL can let you do some nice stuff (Frozen Bubble as the canonical "see, you can program games in Perl"), but not as simply as you can with Processing.
An additional encouragement: Here's what a bunch of design students with no experience in programming at all were able to do in six hours, given a game to start with. They produced some amazing stuff from a Breakout game (with the "lost ball" function turned off).
As long as the point is "show them that you can do cool stuff with programs", any of these would do. The game mod experiment might be particularly fun for everyone.
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