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KidCoder: Computer Programming Review by Courtney Larson

Homeschool Programming, Inc.
908 Birmingham Rd. Suite 501-128
Alpharetta, GA 30004

KidCoder: Computer Programming is a computer-programming course written for children in 4th through 8th grades. The student is taught beginning computer programming step-by-step (using Visual Basic), and by the end of the course they are able to write a program for a simple video game. This course consists of a Student Textbook and a Teacher's Edition. The Teacher's Edition comes with a Teacher's CD that includes sample programs for each chapter, chapter tests, and solutions to the Your Turn exercises. The student will need to download and install Microsoft's Visual Studio Express. This is a free download, and the student is told how to download and install this program in the first chapter of the Student Textbook. In order to run Visual Studio Express and use this course, the student will need to have access to a computer with the following: a CPU of at least 2.2Ghz, at least 512MB of RAM, a hard drive with about 1.3GB or higher of storage, Windows XP, Vista, or Windows Server Operating System, an Internet connection, and a CD-ROM Drive. This course will not teach your child how to use a computer; Some basic knowledge is assumed, such as how to use the keyboard and mouse and how to save and find files.

Kid Coder: Computer Programming is intended to be a semester-long course. There are twelve chapters, and each is broken down into three separate lessons, a bulleted chapter review, and a Your Turn exercise. In chapters 2-12, the student will write basic computer programs on their computer, and the Your Turn exercises allow the student to add on to the program for that chapter. One chapter can be completed in a week if the student is able to devote time to this course every day. (We found lessons to average about 30 minutes.)

The Student Textbook is written directly to the student, so there is minimal teaching involved. The Teacher's Edition contains Teacher's Notes for each chapter, activity solutions, chapter tests, and test answer keys. The information provided in the Teacher's Edition allows the parent to understand what their child should be learning in each chapter, and the solutions and answers are written so that a parent with no understanding of Visual Basic can easily check the student's work and progress.

I really like this program. It is an open-and-go program written for homeschoolers, and it makes computer programming accessible for younger students. I don't know anything about Visual Basic, and honestly, I don't really have an interest in learning this computer language. However, my sons have expressed an interest in designing video games, and this program allows them to learn the basics without requiring me to invest much brainpower or time. The textbook is just a basic black-and-white text, and the font is on the small side. But those are just aesthetic issues that don't detract from the fact that your child is learning how to write basic programs on the computer. Overall, I give KidCoder: Computer Programming two thumbs up and would recommend it to anyone whose child is interested in computer programming.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009