IrishCyborg has really gotten into programming. He likes to play with Scratch, having learned a lot from Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games (Review). He read through Scratch Programming for Teens, but it was basically a repeat of Super Scratch Programming Adventure and a lot less fun. He was ready to move on from Scratch. He wanted a “real” (his word) programming language. I searched the net for some books for kids, and ordered two; Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners, and Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming. The reviews for Python for Kids were mostly positive, though written by adult coders, not kids or parents using it with their kids, who were often nit picky about the author’s choice of some programming terms. Hello programming gurus, it’s a book for kids!
When Python for Kids came IrishCyborg dived in. He dedicated all his computer time to Python, and never felt overwhelmed, nor did he need any help besides the careful guidance of the author, Jason R. Briggs. IrishCyborg is an advanced 11-year-old, but I would expect my younger boys may need some hand holding through this book.
Python for Kids is broken into three parts.
- Learning To Program. The book starts with the basics, installing Python on your machine. Python runs on Linux, Windows and Macintosh. The book then gives you the basic programming concepts. Your child will learn how to draw graphics on the screen with tkinter and the turtle module. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a module is, your child can tell you after this book.
- Bounce! Here your child will learn how to code his first game, Bounce, using everything he has learned so far.
- Mr. Stick Man Races For the Exit. Your child will make a second game, Mr. Stick Man Races For the Exit. This is the section IrishCyborg enjoyed the most. After all, the goal for coding with kids is making games. Another favourite part for him was several pages explaining GIMP, a free image manipulation program, used to draw images for the games.
Most chapters ends with some colourful puzzles that logically build on one another, to re-enforce your child’s understanding. Don’t let them continue until they grasp the previous concepts. They may end up frustrated and give up. The solutions for the puzzles are on a website that accompanies Python for Kids, along with some extra puzzles.
Jason, the author, has a great sense of humor, and writes in an easily accessible style to a child, yet still interesting enough for an adult to read. I suspect this book could be titled Beginners Python Programming (probably used before) and successfully used by adults. Python for Kids hit the mark for IrishCyborg with its humor and illustrations. He has gone on to make many, many games using what he learned in Python for Kids. He firstly manipulated the sample code to produce his own versions of the demo games, then added in some of his own code to write many more games including, soon to be famous, Rocket © IrishCyborg 😉
Rocket © IrishCyborg
Here is what IrishCyborg(11) said about Python for Kids,
I am delighted with Python for Kids, another No Starch Press book that hits the mark. It was a perfect next step after Super Scratch Programming Adventure!for my son, with the right balance of information and fun to keep an 11-year-old boy dedicated till the last, and inspire him forward. I would recommend this book for 10 up, not limited to kids. A beginner coder could learn a lot from Jason, and have a few chuckles along the way. IrishCyborg is now slowly working through Realm of Racket: Learn to Program, One Game at a Time!
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