Known as one of the most popular and easiest ways to teach young kids or teens coding, Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) is a free online service designed to help kids learn more about coding. Scratch teaches children to code by giving them the ability to create games and share their creations quickly. However, while Scratch manages to introduce programming principles to kids in a fun way, it is often difficult to use as a beginner and requires further instruction.
Aiming to help make Scratch easier to understand, there are numerous coding books for kids that provide instructions for Scratch. Coding Games in Scratch authored by Jon Woodcock is one of the best of the bunch. Targeted around youth primarily between 8 and 12 years old, Coding Games in Scratch provides kids with a simple and understandable guide to the service. With so many different coding games books available for kids, Coding Games in Scratch manages to differentiate itself from the competition with its simple design and easy to understand instructions.
At around 220 pages long and available on Amazon.com for US$12 brand new, this is good value for parents wanting to give their kids something that can keep them occupied.
This is one of the best resources available for kids to learn Scratch and is a great ‘offline’ reference
About the Book
Before talking more about the book, it is important to note that anyone looking to purchase this book should have a computer that can run Scratch. Available either online or offline via a free download, Scratch requires a Windows or Mac computer with Adobe 10.2 or later.
Once you have Scratch running on your PC, the book begins with an introduction to the software complete with a user guide of the interface. The rest of the book contains step by step guides to creating eight different programs or games. Following the provided instructions and solving or creating these programs is where kids learn. The games vary in difficulty with the simplest being first, helping to explain various fundamental computer science ideas in the process. For instance, following the instructions and creating the first game provides a basic understanding of problem-solving via an included fixes section for potential bugs. Similarly, other games teach other STEM concepts like collaborative work and systematic reasoning.
Making the games is rather simple and any child who has mastered reading should be able to create the first game on his or her own thanks to easy to understand instructions. Kids get to experience a range of different games, whether it is a jumping game or a maze-type game, they are able to develop both problem solving and creative skills. Specifically, the book makes sure to provide kids with a lot of creative room via a tweaks section at the end of every game that contains added suggestions on how to enhance the game.
Pros and Cons
Guiding children through making these games is where I believe Coding Games in Scratch is better compared to other coding books for kids. By providing an easily readable map for using the Scratch platform, the book allows kids to shine their creativity and enjoy their creations.
While the book does an excellent job on detailing steps on how to create the included games, it could do a better job of encouraging kids to do more. I’ve read reviews about kids who follow the instructions and make all eight games in around a week. Besides the tweaks section at the end of every game, the book does not provide much of a challenge to kids to further the knowledge they attained via the book and take the extra step. While making the included games is fun and suitable for many children, some children may not know what to do next after finishing the book.
Overall, with numerous coding books available for kids, Jon Woodcock’s Coding Games in Scratch is a unique resource for any parent planning to get their kid interested in coding. The included instructions are easy to follow, making games is very fun for kids, and having them learn how to code while doing so is even better. The only slight criticism of this superb book would be a lack of a greater challenges or instructions for kids eager to learn more. This isn’t much of a problem given the abundant range of options now available online.
Easy to follow
Well designed with lots of fun content
Can apply what you learn in the book to a PC
May not be challenging for kids with background knowledge