I cannot overstate how amazing this book has been for my family. I bought Code Your Own Games! for my oldest around his 11th birthday and he fell completely in love with the MIT coding language for kids, Scratch. Not only did he work through all the activities in the book, but he started writing his own code before he was even finished with it. We have tried other Scratch books in the past, but this is the one that got him hooked. He has learned so much not only about coding, but about real-life applications of math and physics as well.
Code Your Own Games! Details
Title: Code Your Own Games!
Author/Illustrator: Max Wainewright
Publication Year: 2020
Age Group: Elementary, Middle School
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This book has been a life-changer for my family. My oldest child wanted to learn to code for a while, but I really didn’t know how to help him. To start, I got a few Scratch books from the library. While the others were not particularly child-friendly or engaging, this one captured his interest immediately. At the time, he was even using an edition of the book for a previous version of Scratch. This is important to note as technology improves rapidly. Even this most recent edition will likely soon be out of date when Scratch updates to a version beyond 3.0.
However, I think the fact that my son was using a version that was slightly outdated was actually helpful. Rather than just mindlessly following the instructions in the book, he had to really understand what the instructions were telling him to do. That way if the website did not exactly match the images in the book, he could still figure out the next steps. I am not advocating seeking out an old version. I am just saying that if the version you can get ahold of does not match the most recent version of Scratch, don’t let that stop you!
What I love most about the games in this book is that they are short and provide immediate gratification. From the very first tutorial, within 20-30 minutes, the child has a game that they actually enjoy playing. Not only that, it will spark ideas in their minds for how they can improve the game. This leads to a lot of added-on learning, particularly if your child is willing to explore.
My younger kids saw my son having so much fun working through this book, that they have all been eager to start. To make sure they didn’t steal his thunder, I told them they had to wait until he finished the book. Now that he has finished it, my 9-year-old is currently working through the book. She has only done maybe the first 3 or 4 tutorials, but she spends several hours a week making her own little games and videos based on what she has already learned. My oldest, meanwhile, who is currently 12, made several of his own games and is now teaching himself how to program in Python, a language that is widely used in scientific communities.
I am so grateful to the author for writing this book and for the rabbit holes he has inspired my kids to follow!
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I would like to know how to get started here. All I need is a book? Is there an intro in the book as to how to use it and what app to install? Basically is there 101 intro how to implement it using the book?
Yes! This book is all we used to get started. Everything is done on the web. There is no software to install. There are some instructions in the book, but all you need to do to get started is go to scratch.mit.edu and click the Create button at the top. From there, you can get started with the first game tutorial on page 12 called Hungry Cat. There are a few pages of intro before that, but honestly, I’m pretty sure my kids skipped it! If you want to save your files, you will have to join (for free) by creating an account, which you can also do from the top menu bar. Feel free to reach out if you have questions!