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Computer Coding for Kids Paperback – June 2, 2014
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I will take it from the kindergarten level regardless if I already have basic knowledge of the subject or not.
It is one of the best books I read, I know :)
One of the first books my kids will be learning from. Coding is going to be their second language if they will like it.
Computer Coding Games for Kids incorporates what I have come to expect from DK published books:
• bright, engaging colors
• thick, tough paper
• short, stand-alone paragraphs of text interspersed with graphics and helpful visuals
• Useful, but non-essential information presented in stand-alone text boxes.
After just two sessions, I was hearing, “This is so fun,” “Never thought that it would be so easy to create games,” and “I can’t wait to tell Mr. XXX (school technology teacher) what I have done.”
What I find so brilliant in their layout is the modular development. The simplest game requires nine stages to build. After nearly every stage, the book encourages the reader to play the game and try out the newly added feature. For some, this playing will be simple error checking to confirm that it is doing what is expected. For others it could be three to twelve minutes of play before moving on. For kids (and adults) with short attention spans, this is brilliant. There is time to play, there is time to break away from “the work,” and there are so many opportunities to feel proud of what has been accomplished.
The book includes eight distinctively different games to create. Each game design chapter ends with a two-page spread of “Hacks and Tweaks” offering ideas on how to modify and extend the game. The first game–Star Hunter” includes the following stages:
• Create the player. Stop and test it out (i.e., play with it)
• Set the background scene
• Add sound effects. Test play
• Add the enemy. Test play
• Add collision logic. Test play
• Add more enemies. Test play
• Collect stars (i.e., points). Test play
• Keep score. Test play
• Better enemies. Test play
While I found this book brilliantly put-together, it is a book that required a fair amount of parent involvement. Older child picked up the book and proceeded to create one of the medium complex games. When it did not work properly, came back the next day and debugged it. Process for the younger child was a bit different:
1. Mom downloaded Scratch from scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download. Unlike so many other downloads suggested in printed books, this download proceeded smoothly.
2. Mom created the first game (while kids were nowhere to be found).
3. Mom played game and had a bit of fun, and then…deleted the game. So much of the fun and pride comes from building yourself, after all.
4. Now I was ready to sit side-by-side with younger child, confident that I knew what I was doing and that the game would really work and could engage. We stepped through each stage, mom teaching each step rather than asking child to read the book. With the engaging and colorful graphics, child would read and copy the coding text directly from the book. Also referred to describe X,Y coordinate, degrees of rotation, and graphics to find functions and tools on the Scratch screen.
We are now creating our second game. Time will tell how many of the games we will get through and whether younger child will create them independent of mom’s support. Will child revisit the early games and try out the “Hacks and Tweaks?” Will the child pick up the book for fun reading and capture the extra details found in the opening and concluding chapters and graphical call-outs? Will they read about “what makes a good game?” and “Jobs making games.”? Time will tell. We have already gotten £12.99 worth of value from the book.