Posted in Uncategorized

6 Coding Books Made For Kids: Easy and Painless ways for Adults To Learn To Code

One of the best ways to learn how to code is to use kid’s books to get you started. Coding books made for children are helpful because they tend to be colorful, fun, and break down programming concepts in a way that anyone can understand.

Here are six books we highly recommend in no particular order.

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Coding for Kids: Python: Learn to Code with 50 Awesome Games and Activities

by Adrienne Tacke

Learning to code is just like playing a new sport or practicing an instrument―just get started! From the basic building blocks of programming to creating your very own games, this book teaches essential Python skills to kids ages 10 and up with 50 fun and engaging activities.

Personal Review

Python is considered one of the easiest text based languages to learn. Although this my be true, not all books are meant for beginners. Coding for Kids Python is a fun, colorful and interactive book. As a teacher I find the explanations are very down to earth and interesting. I also like the format and order of the coding concepts in the book. Most of all the projects allow you to practice your new skills.

Buy Book Here

Coding for Kids in easy steps

by Mike McGrath

Coding For Kids in easy steps has an easy-to-follow style that demonstrates coding for web pages in clear examples. The final chapter brings everything together with a step-by-step example that builds a fun web page containing an interactive game for PC, tablet, or smartphone.

Personal Review

First I would like to say that the in easy steps book line is one of my favorite publications for all coding languages. When this book was published, I already had high expectations and this book has fulfilled them. This book is not only child friendly but also has the same in easy steps format. This means that it is filled with extra tips and things to look out for. This book’s focuses on web design which includes HTML, CSS and some JavaScript. I highly recommend any book in this line.

Buy Book Here

Coding iPhone Apps for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Swift

by Gloria Winquist

Apple’s Swift is a powerful, beginner-friendly programming language that anyone can use to make cool apps for the iPhone or iPad. In Coding iPhone Apps for Kids, you’ll learn how to use Swift to write programs, even if you’ve never programmed before.

Personal Review

This book also belongs to another favorite publisher called noStarch Press. At this point, you should already know because it’s a kids book it will be colorful and interactive. The main reason this book made it to the list is because it’s teaching Swift. Swift is a newly developed language made by Apple. Swift has its own style and feel and I find that many Swift books are very dry and straight to the point. This book was made for you to have a little fun and learn to Swift and Xcode at the same.

Buy Book Here

Hello World!: A complete Python-based computer programming tutorial with fun illustrations, examples, and hand-on exercises

Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners, Third Edition introduces the world of computer programming in a clear and fun style. Using Python, a programming language designed to be easy to learn, each engaging lesson teaches skills that apply to any kind of programming. Written by father-and-son team Warren and Carter Sande, this international bestseller is kid-tested and reviewed by professional educators. 

Personal Review

They Hello World Series has been around for quite sometime. It’s currently on its third edition and was personally my first exposure to kids coding books before it became popular. This book teaches Python and the structure of the book helped me to learn and teach Python in after school. Warren and Carter Sande are truly pioneers.

Buy Book Here

JavaScript for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

by Nick Morgan

JavaScript for Kids is a lighthearted introduction that teaches programming essentials through patient, step-by-step examples paired with funny illustrations. You’ll begin with the basics, like working with strings, arrays, and loops, and then move on to more advanced topics, like building interactivity with jQuery and drawing graphics with Canvas.

Personal Review

Another noStarch Press book that teaches JavaScript and JQuery. This book was published over six years ago which can seem outdated for a coding book. However, learning JavaScript is also another language where the books tend to be dry and straight to the point. Of course, this book is not the case. What I like most about this book is its sections about objects and DOM, which the author uses creative approaches to teach the concepts.

Buy Book Here

Hello Swift!: iOS app programming for kids and other beginners

by Tanmay Bakshi

Hello Swift! is a how-to guide to programming iOS Apps with the Swift language, written from a kid’s perspective. This approachable, well-illustrated, step-by-step guide takes you from beginning programming concepts all the way through developing complete apps.

Personal Review

Hello Swift is on this list because it’s published by the same company of Hello World. I am a fan of the style and instruction of the Hello books. It’s also a Swift book which are hard to find ones that are fun and interactive as mentioned. I will say that compared to the other Swift book on this list, this has a more fundamental feel of making sure you understand Swift concepts.

Buy Book Here

Posted in Recommendations

Top 5 Free Coding Software for Kids (Block-Based Edition)

As coding becomes more popular for children there are company’s out there creating programming curriculum that you have to pay for. Learning how to code can also be free.

Here are my top 5 recommended coding softwares made for kids.

This is the block-based edition. What is block-based programming? Block-based programming is when the coding editor uses colorful block styled puzzle pieces to execute a program.

Note: These softwares are not in any particular order.

1) Scratch

Description

Scratch is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. For ages 8 and up.

Website: scratch.mit.edu

Personal Review

Scratch is one of my favorite coding softwares because it is very easy to use, child friendly and is translated in many different languages. Once you know how the block menus work you can create games and animations that can be shared with the Scratch community. Scratch is completely free.

2) Thunkable

Description

Thunkable is the platform where anyone can build their own mobile apps. Available for iOS and Android. For ages 13 and up.

Website: thunkable.com

Personal Review

This software was inspired by the original software called MIT App Inventor. Thunkable has more robust features that are both compatible with Android and IOS. My favorite features are their database options, making of app screens with buttons and images as well as the ease of testing and app publication. Thunkable is free to use but also has paid features.

3) Makecode Arcade

Description

Develop your programming skills by quickly creating and modding retro arcade games with Blocks and JavaScript in the MakeCode editor. For ages 8 and up.

Website: arcade.makecode.com

Personal Review

Makecode Arcade had me at retro 8-bit arcade games. I love this software because of the gaming functionality that includes physics, gravity, and collision which is limited if you are using Scratch. I also love the hardware inspired by the Gameboy console that technology companies are creating for it. Stay tuned for a review of these consoles soon. Makecode Arcade is free.

4) Code.org

Description

Watch celebrity-guided lessons, code your own dance party, and try one of 100+ activities! Code.org tutorials are available in 45+ languages, with brand-new resources for at home. At-home resources for you. Games in 45+ languages. Continue learning at home.

Website: studio.code.org/courses

Personal Review

Code.org is one of the most common coding software for children to use in and out of the classroom. They are also the creators of Hour of Code, which was created to encourage more people to learn about computer science. Code.org’s curriculum is fun and includes many licensed characters such as Frozen, Starwars, etc. Code.org is free to use.

5) Tynker

Description

Tynker is an educational programming platform aimed at teaching children how to make games and programs. Instead of typing the source code, you visually drag blocks of code and snap them together. 

Website: tynker.com

Personal Review

Tynker is similar to Scratch but offers many more options such as other coding languages and a physics engine. It also contains pre-made animated characters and makes certain gaming concepts such as scrolling and camera control easier to configure. Tynker is free to use but also has paid features.

Posted in Personal

I am a Unicorn, hear me Gallop; Choosing Computer Science Education and being a Black Woman

In my fantasy world of rainbows and unicorns there is equality, acceptance and the notion that each unicorn is unique but there are enough of us to create a community…

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/unicorn-draw-drawing-school-1607385/

Unfortunately, I live in a world where you realize a unicorn is a symbol of difference in a “good” way and a rarity. An intersection between what is not considered the norm and should be placed in a special section as if to preserve it, not to create more.

At a young age, I knew I was interested in different things than what my peers were interested in, mainly the curiosities of computer science and engineering. Which derived from trying to figure out what was wrong with a computer in my elementary school computer lab to taking my first programming class in 7th grade using a language called Logo.

Who would have known that my upbringing in a lower middle class, predominately black community, as well as a brewing passion for comp sci and education, would lead me to the career I have today. My growing experience as a Black Women Computer Science Teacher in the classroom, in after-school and in the adult continuing ed spaces, has often felt like a unicorn placed in its own special pen with no one to interact with.

When a unicorn gets to play with all the other horses, the unicorn and all the horses know the differences but the horses will only acknowledge that unicorn if they accept the social norms of the horse community. In my opinion, this is an example of my everyday life. Even though I love what I do, the spaces that I am qualified to be in were not made for me.

What some people do not understand is, I did not sign up for the unicorn school for black girls. Nor did I realize that I was a unicorn until after many years into my career. Yes, I noticed in college that there weren’t many women in my classes and later realized that there were a few black people, if not, I was the only black person in the classroom. At the time, I chalked that experience up to just that. Computer Science was a predominately male space. Hence, the reason why I felt the need to restart our school’s Women in Computer Science Club.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I learned about intersectionality and how my experience as a black woman was different than from being just a woman and being just black. By combining both experiences into one and adding my career choice into the mix, my unicorness was created. It took me two years just to understand the meaning and role it played in my life. Only to conclude that I would always have a job in the tech world not just because of my experience but also because I am one of a few black women in the industry.

With the term diversity and inclusion being used more frequently in the workplace, I sometimes wonder if employers look at a person like me to mark off a checkbox. Just to say, “hey we have our own unicorn look at her and she is qualified at the same time”. Internally, I am excited for the opportunity, there is a sense of accomplishment and I feel like I made it. But this unicorn feels the need to work twice as hard and often downplays the many micro-aggressions that she experiences. Overtime, that unicorn externally is still beautiful, still rare and still alone.

I’ve come to realize that if I don’t want to be a lone unicorn that I need to find or help create other unicorns like me. I cannot continue to hope that the workplace will expand with other unicorns without putting in the effort to find my own. In some ways, the most ideal space is a community of unicorns mixed with a few horses but I’ll take a unicorn at a time.

Where will you find your unicorn community?