A few weeks back I wrote about a new book from DK Publishing that introduces programming concepts and the Scratch programming language. There are a number of reasons why I loved this workbook:
- It’s only $5.99 and printed in full color with pages filled with engaging graphics.
- It’s short and sweet–quick intro to programming and Scratch followed by four fun little game projects.
- Easy quiz pages at the end of each chapter with answers in the back.
- It’s an outstanding method to test the waters with a child to see if they have the interest and/or aptitude.
I reached out to DK to see if they had any other books related to programming, and they just sent me a copy of Computer Coding: An Introduction to Computer Programming. It’s the same format–40 pages, $5.99 price tag, quizzes–and still short and sweet and useful to gauge a student’s interest level.
This book, however, doesn’t use Scratch. It provides a simple introduction to the Python programming language over 16 chapters and a Glossary. Most chapters average two pages, meaning that no one chapter goes too deep into a topic. The chapter titles are:
Python and IDLE
Strings and inputs
In the loop
Tricks with print
True or False?
Glossary and Note for parents
Chapter 2, Installing Python, provides the web address to download the free Python 3–instructions are provided for Mac and Windows. After that, the student is given an easy-to-follow tutorial on using the Python shell window (called IDLE) and shown how to create the famous “Hello World” program.
Remaining chapters use an interesting method to guide the reader through writing text-based programs. Little blue boxes are provided for the student to write in–it’s a fun way to give students a sense of “programming” on paper before they attempt their program on the actual computer.
Again, I believe one of the biggest benefits to using this workbook is its ability to gauge a student’s interest in programming. The book is only 40 pages, and it gives just the right amount of hands-on time with a text-based programming tool for a student to be able to decide whether they like it or not. For my Beginning Game Programming camp this summer, I will be providing each student with a copy of Coding in Scratch: Games Workbook and Computer Coding–the first book will be a huge help in showing the kids the capabilities of Scratch, and the second book will allow me to introduce text-based programming concepts in a structured manner.
DK Publishing did inform me they have another programming book (Scratch) that follows the format of these two books, but it’s not out yet. I’ve requested a review copy when one becomes available and will provide a review after I take a look.
If you’ve got a child (or a classroom of students) who is interested in programming or who you think might find it fun, these two books won’t break the bank and will allow the student to work at his/her own pace. Five stars.