Homeschool Programming was started by homeschooling parents with more than seventeen years of experience in the software industry. They had been approached by a homeschool teen who wanted to learn how to program computers. She called up and asked them to help her find what she needed to help her learn this art. They searched the internet for kid/teen friendly curriculum and couldn’t find anything to adequately prepare her, so they created their own material.
Computer Requirements: You must download the free software Visual Studio 2010 on your own computer in order to complete this course. In order to run Visual Studio 2010 Express your computer must meet the following minimum requirements listed on their website:
- A CPU of at least 1.6Ghz
- At least 1024MB of RAM
- A display monitor with 1024 x 768 or higher resolution
- A graphics card supporting DirectX-10 or later
- A 5400+ RPM hard drive with 3GB or more free space
- A DVD-ROM Drive
Supported Operating Systems:
- Windows XP + SP3 or above (except Starter Edition)
- Windows Vista + SP2 or above (except Starter Edition)
- Windows 7 (all versions)
- Windows 8 (except RT)
About the Program:
We received a download of the revised 2013 student book and had access to the videos online for this review. If you choose to purchase the materials for your homeschool you will receive a physical student book and can purchase the optional video instructions. We really enjoyed the videos and watched them first followed by reading the student text. We felt they offered lots of reinforcement of the material in the student text. We spent the majority of the review period working with the first semester materials KidCoder: Windows Programming. This can be purchased separately for $85 (course book and video) or $70 (course only) Semester two continues building your computer programming knowledge by introducing game programming. The price for this materials is the same as semester one materials. You can also purchase semester one and two materials together as a bundle called the KidCoder: Visual Basic Year Pack (this is what we received) for $145 (course and videos) or $120 (course only). You can see sample course pages here. This course is geared for grades 6-12, but kids as young as 4th grade may be able to handle the material with parental help.
An introduction to computer hardware and software. The videos for this portion were particularly interesting including visually appealing pictures and graphics. We learned all about the history of hardware and software and how the first computers were used. The progression of technology was explained in an engaging and interesting way. We were also introduced to some of the different computer languages used in programming today.
Using and installing the Visual Basic 2010 Express development environment. I installed this for my son and it was a rather painless process. The step-by-step instructions with screen shots made it a breeze to install. The first project involved working with forms and adding text in Visual Basic. Here is the finished project.
As we moved on we created a program with a button on the form. The projects became progressively more difficult, but the lessons were broken down into manageable chunks that were short and to the point, maintaining momentum and holding your interest. The lessons never seemed tedious even though the content could be deemed as such.
We learned some guidelines to help us avoid common coding mistakes.
We worked with two different data types: integer and fractional ( great math terminology practice)
We learned about Basic flow control
We learned about asking for, receiving and validating user imput.
Here is a screen shot of our most recent project:
We have a lot more to cover and we are looking forward to working with numbers and strings, using the debugger, learning about loops and functions, and creating arrays and structures. At the end we will put it all together to create a simple graphic program that functions as a simple animated game.
We are looking forward to working on the second semester materials this fall. The KidCoder: Game Programming materials will have us
Reviewing what we have learned previously
Learning Game Design
Practicing Drawing on Screen
Working with Graphics and User Input in Visual Basic
Working with images and Animation to create our own video game
and much more……..