Tag Archives: scratch

Kids coding and technology advance

Over recent months, there has been an important advance in opportunities for kids to learn to code and mess around with technology.

The Scratch programming language is a project set at MIT. Scratch programming involves moving images, called blocks, from a pallet into a work area, hooking them together and maybe changing some values attached to them, in order to develop programs that mainly, but not exclusively, manipulate sprites. (See example of code blokcks above.) The project is located HERE. This is a full object oriented programming language with quite a few features that make it very powerful, for a kid’s toy. Continue reading Kids coding and technology advance

Super Cool Tech and Kids Programming Books

I just received two books that I will be reviewing in more detail later, but wanted to let you know about now.

Coding Projects in Scratch: A step by step guide by DK Publishers is a new scratch coding book. I got a copy a couple of days ago and have been going through it, and found it to be excellent. I’ll be including it in my Science Oriented Holiday Shopping Guide for Kids Stuff, which I’ll have out soon, but I wanted to give you a heads up first. From the publishers:

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Using fun graphics and easy-to-follow instructions, Coding Projects in Scratch is a straightforward, visual guide that shows young learners how to build their own computer projects using Scratch, a popular free programming language.

Kids can animate their favorite characters, build games to play with friends, create silly sound effects, and more with Coding Projects in Scratch. All they need is a desktop or laptop with Adobe 10.2 or later, and an internet connection to download Scratch 2.0. Coding can be done without download on https://scratch.mit.edu.

Step-by-step instructions teach essential coding basics and outline 18 fun and exciting projects, including a personalized birthday card; a “tunnel of doom” multiplayer game; a dinosaur dance party animation with flashing lights, music, and dance moves—and much more.

The simple, logical steps in Coding Projects in Scratch are fully illustrated with fun pixel art and build on the basics of coding, so that kids can have the skills to make whatever kind of project they can dream up.

Also to be featured in the Holiday Shopping guide, this very interesting technology book mainly for young folk. At first I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, but then, once I started going through it, I couldn’t put it down.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-15-22-pmSuper Cool Tech is like a coffee table book for nerds. It is designed to look like a laptop (see the picture at the top of the post) and that is how you open it and use it.

See today’s best innovations and imagine tomorrow’s big ideas in Super Cool Tech. This cutting-edge guide explores how incredible new technologies are shaping the modern world and its future, from familiar smartwatches to intelligent, driverless cars.

Packed with more than 250 full-color images, X-rays, thermal imaging, digital artworks, cross-sections, and cutaways, Super Cool Tech reveals the secrets behind the latest gadgets and gizmos, state-of-the-art buildings, and life-changing technologies.

Lift the unique laptop-inspired book cover to see incredible architectural concepts around the world, such as the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel and Resort in Dubai, and the River Gym, a human-powered floating gym in New York City. Discover how a wheelchair adapts to its surroundings and learn how a cutting board can give the nutritional information of the food being prepared on it.

From 3-D-printed cars to robot vacuum cleaners, Super Cool Tech reveals today’s amazing inventions and looks ahead to the future of technology, including hologram traffic lights and the Galactic Suite Hotel in space. Perfect for STEAM education initiatives, Super Cool Tech makes technology easy to understand, following the history of each invention and how they impact our everyday lives, and “How It Works” panels explain the design and function of each item using clear explanations and images.

Designed in DK’s signature style, Super Cool Tech is the ultimate guide to exploring and understanding the latest gadgets and inventions while looking ahead to the future of technology.

Science and Coding Books For Kids

I mention a couple of kids books in my overviews on Fossil and Evolution Books and Books about Climate Change. Here are a few excellent science and computer programming (aka coding) books for kids.

Geology book for kids

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.16.16 PMThe Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1 is a good stab at making a comic that teaches some science.

We follow the adventures of Geo and his robotic dog, Rocky as the visit the ancient supercontinent of Pangea. This journey is pursuant to Geo’s upcoming test in his geology class.

What is the center of the Earth made out of? How do volcanoes work? Why do earthquakes happen? How did scientists figure out plate tectonics?

The book is geared for kids starting whenever they can read, or a bit older. Great drawings, great science, great story.

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Physiology and the Human Body for Kids

The The Manga Guide to Physiology is one of several Manga Guides that use a cartoon approach to, in this case, physiology. It isn’t all magna, but includes sections of regular text that give the reader a breather from the whacky world of anime where all the characters breath through their eyes. I like that aspect of the book because it serves a wider range of readers.

Once again, a central theme of the story is a kid cramming for a test. Seems to be a popular theme.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.25.38 PMSurvive! Inside the Human Body, Vol. 1: The Digestive System is the first in a series of anime like, but not exactly, volumes that combine a comic theme and inserts in normal rhetorical form. The Survive books are pretty detailed, and targeted for kids 8 and above.

Survive! Inside the Human Body, Volume 1 begins an epic journey through the human body with a look at the digestive system. This lively, full-color science comic explores Phoebe’s insides after she accidentally swallows a microscopic ship. The only problem? Dr. Brain (the ship’s eccentric inventor) and Phoebe’s friend Geo are on board!

Volume 2 is on The Circulatory System, and Volume 3 is on The Nervous System.

Kid of like The Incredible Journey meets the Magic School Bus meets Pokemon.

Programming Books for Kids


Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.01.18 PMJavaScript for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming may be considered a form of child abuse, but that all depends on one’s view of javascript. In order to teach this Internet based programming language, the author, Nick Morgan, takes the reader through a number of examples of game building. This book is best for kids about 10 years old and up, but this will depend on how much the nearest javascript savvy adult is.

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.

Along the way, you’ll write games such as Find the Buried Treasure, Hangman, and Snake.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.06.41 PMThe Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Covers Version 2): Learn to Program by Making Cool Games is now out in a second edition, covering Scratch version 2. Scratch is part of a family of very kid friendly programming languages. The book suggests it is for ages 8 and above, but in various incarnations, Scratch can work for much younger kids. This is a good start on programming for robots. The book guides the reader through development of various games, and provides guidance in getting the Scratch environment running on your computer. This is a very visual, object oriented programming language, and the book is too.

A good companion book, focusing on Scratch Junior (a version of Scratch) is The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code.

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The Official ScratchJr Book is the perfect companion to this free app and makes coding easy and fun for all. Kids learn to program by connecting blocks of code to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing.

Each chapter includes several activities that build on one another, culminating in a fun final project. These hands-on activities help kids develop computational-thinking, problem-solving, and design skills.

The Official ScratchJr Book is actually geared towards somewhat younger kids.