Sunday, April 7, 2013

Computer Science for Kids Review

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My son, Nate, loves to be on the computer and has often said he'd like to program video games in the future, specifically, Bible games.  When given the opportunity to review programming curriculum from Computer Science for Kids, I was thrilled.  We were given two choices, Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic and Beginning Microsoft Small Basic.  He chose to work through the Computer Bible Games program.  When he works on this, I have trouble getting him off the computer to do his other schoolwork.  I count that as a success.  My older son who hasn't been working through it wants to use it because he says, "It looks like fun."

 photo Computer-Bible-Games-for-Microsoft-Small-Basic-193716103X-By-Philip-Conrod-and-Lou-Tylee-Small-Cover_zps301bcf0a.jpgSome time ago my boys had tried to learn programming through another course, but it was difficult for them to understand.  This one is so much easier to follow.  Nate is using the single-user license digital e-book download which is currently on sale now for $34.95.  The sale will be going on until July 4th.  The price will then go back to 59.95.  Beginning Microsoft Small Basic is the same price for the single-user download e-book version.  The Bible Games program covers the same information as is contained in the first ten chapters of the Beginning Small Basic program but then gives the student the opportunity to program Bible games instead of secular games.

Computer Bible Games is geared toward middle-school students (kids 10+) and helps them gain a beginning understanding of computer programming so that they can move on to more advanced languages later.  Nate was able to make it through the first five chapters of this program.  The chapters are long but have a lot of practice exercises in them which are done through Microsoft Small Basic that is downloadable for free from

The first chapter details Small Basic as a programming language and how to use the Microsoft Small Basic program.  The second chapter discusses rules of small basic and creating and saving programs.  In chapter three, the student learns how to create their first program.  They learn about variables, arithmetic operators, strings, etc.  Mathematical functions, input methods, and program design and development are the topics in chapter four.  Chapter five deals with things such as debugging, logical expressions, and the "if" statement.  Nate created a "guess the number" game which we all enjoyed playing when he was finished.  He had learned so much during the first five chapters that he was able to add code to the game so it did more than just have one person guess a number.  He made it so that three of us could guess during the same game, but we couldn't guess the same number.  He showed a lot of creativity and ingenuity.

I watched him create code for these games.  I found it very interesting.  The image below shows what is used when programming.  When a command needs to be placed into the code, this box pops up, and it allows the user to choose the correct command.  I haven't programmed anything since I was in 8th grade, and it certainly didn't look this interesting.  I can see why kids would think this was fun now and want to learn and create.

Chapters six through nine deal with loops and subroutines, "shuffle" method, graphics, incorporating the mouse into the program, animation, and other topics.  Each chapter allows the student to create a game.  The last chapters teach the user how to create a Noah's Ark project, a Daniel and the Lions project, and an Elijah and the Ravens project.  I am hoping that he will want to complete the course even though the review period is over.  He has already learned so much; it will only benefit him in the long run to finish it.  I can see how much joy it brings him when he creates something and sees it working.

This is a product I would highly recommend for your children if they are interested in learning how to program.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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