I’ve mentioned before that my husband works in technology, and my son has an avid interest in learning programming like his dad. Homeschool Programming has courses that teach kids programming languages such as Visual Basic, C# and Java.
We were blessed to receive the KidCoder Visual Basic Series. This series includes the Windows Programming Textbook (1st semester), the Game Programming Textbook (2nd semester), and the Instructional Videos. The Visual Basic Series is designed for grades 6th-8th and has your student use the free Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express program.
The chapters take the students step-by-step with sample codes throughout the text. The students practice what they are learning from each lesson, and at the end of each chapter, they build on what they’ve learned previously, and demonstrate understanding of the concepts. The course is a self-led, self-paced curriculum which I appreciated since I don’t know anything more than a little html. Your student doesn’t need prior programming experience. This course will lay that foundation.
Windows Programming is the first semester textbook geared to teaching students the basic programming skills. They learn a bit about programming history, hardware, software, managing both numeric and text data, strings, debugging, arrays, and more. At the end of this textbook, they put all they’ve learned thus far into creating an actual game.
There are fourteen chapters each with 3-5 lessons, a chapter review, and a Your Turn section where they put their learning to use. There are 200+ pages of learning for your student.
Game Programming is the second semester textbook, and builds on everything they learned in Windows Programming. The first semester is more the nitty gritty work, whereas the second semester is the celebration. This is where they get to create several different games. My son is really looking forward to getting to this part. They learn game design concepts, displaying and animating images, object position, movement, and acceleration, collision detection, music and sound effects, artificial “game” intelligence, game physics and more.
There are fourteen chapters each with 2-6 lessons. Scanning through the table of contents, I see chapter reviews again, but also more Your Turn sections per chapter. Lots of hands on learning. Again, there are 200+ pages of wonderful programming learning.
The Instructional Videos are not a replacement for the textbook, but rather a supplement for your audio-visual learners. They are presented in animation, covering the same topics, but with different examples, and sometimes showcasing a real programmer accomplishing the task. My son preferred just reading the text, however, if he gets stuck, he might find these useful.
After downloading, and setting up the program, I let my son take over. My only other job so far has been to be available. He likes to show me what he’s doing, and I’m often the guinea pig: “Mom click this”. Not that I mind at all. It’s fun to watch him following in his dad’s footsteps, and I imagine they will have some neat conversations in the future as he learns more.
As for how he uses it, he opens both the textbook and the Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express program. He reads his lesson, checks out the example, and then flips over to the program to put it into practice. It’s that simple. If something doesn’t work, he flips back over to the text, and reads through again. Then back to the program to correct his mistake. So far, he’s had no difficulty working through it.
Christian really likes the curriculum although he doesn’t like to do it during school time. He much prefers to tackle it during his free time. I’m not sure why it makes a difference for him, but there you have it. He’s super excited to get to the actual game making, but admits he’s learning a lot.
I love that they can take what they learn, and use it for their own future projects. This is designed to teach them a foundation of programming for life. It seems like a solid course, and covers a lot of technical type things, but presents it in an easy to understand format. I’m excited to see the games he creates, and will be looking at their other courses later on. He seems to have a knack for this, and since technology will always be around, it’s a good skill set to build.
If you are looking for a solid programming course, I highly recommend this course.
On the Sample Course Pages section of their website, you will find table of contents, sample student lessons, solutions overviews, and sample activity solutions. There are also demo videos you can watch for more of an idea.
Pricing for bundles:
KidCoder: VB Year Pack – (Courses Only) = $120
KidCoder: VB Year Pack – (Courses & Videos) = $145
KidCoder: Windows Programming (Course Only) = $70
KidCoder: Windows Programming (Course & Video) = $85
KidCoder: Game Programming (Course Only) = $70
KidCoder: Game Programming (Course & Videos) = $85