We’ve grudgingly admitted recently that, as part of their continuing education in today’s electronic world, we’re going to have to teach our kids how to do more with a computer than just hit the power button and push the mouse around. My husband is the techie of the family, but his last computer programming class was 25 years ago. While we were considering what route to take to show our kids just how those games they play are actually made, we received the opportunity to review Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic from Computer Science For Kids.
Note: For those who are interested, there is a secular version of this program as well.
The Christian version of this course, which is the one we reviewed, is currently available and priced as follows:
Single User License
Digital E-Book Download Only
Item #104-DL $59.95
$34.95 – SALE PRICE!
The secular version is available and priced as follows:
Instant Internet “Download Only”
Digital E-Book Edition
Single User License
Item #111-DL $59.95
$34.95 – SALE PRICE!
From the vendor on how long the sale will last:
“We plan to keep the $34.95 sale price going though July 4th, 2013”
From the website:
“Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic is designed to help beginner Christian middle-school students understand Small Basic programming concepts while developing “fun and simple” learning games and Computer Bible Games. Microsoft Small BASIC is a simple BASIC programming environment designed specifically for kids to help prepare them for more complex programming languages like Visual Basic, Visual C# and Java. Small Basic also includes a “graduate code” button which automatically converts the student’s source code into Microsoft Visual Basic”.
While you don’t need to be a computer programmer to take or teach this course, it is recommended you have some familiarity with navigating the Windows environment. You don’t have to know how to write a program, but you do need to know how to find them in your computer! Knowing how to move and re-size windows is a plus. You’ll also want to be able to print Microsoft Word files and download Microsoft Small Basic. There’s a “Start Here” file included that outlines all this and tells you where you can find Small Basic.
Once you’ve installed Small Basic and Computer Bible Games, you’ll find yourself looking at a step-by-step guide to learning Small Basic. There are over 400 pages of documentation included with this course, so I asked my husband to help me get everything printed out, collated and 3-hole-punched into a large binder (it was at this point that I gave in to temptation and purchased a heavy-duty hole puncher from our local warehouse club, along with a couple of bulk packages of three-ring binders in different sizes!). He opted to print it out a class at a time for me, as he is stingy about ink and was running low.
Here’s a quick look at the Table of Contents:
• Class 1: Introducing Small Basic – gives you a brief history of the BASIC programming language, plus download and installation instructions for the Microsoft Small Basic Program
• Class 2: Small Basic Program Basics
• Class 3: Your First Small Basic Program
• Class 4: Small Basic Program Design, Input Methods
• Class 5: Debugging, Decisions, Random Numbers
• Class 6: Small Basic Looping, Subroutines
• Class 7: More Small Basic Looping, Arrays
• Class 8: Small Basic Graphics, Mouse Methods
• Class 9: Timers, Animation, Keyboard Methods
• Class 10: Noah’s Ark Project
• Class 11: Daniel and the Lions Project
• Class 12: Elijah and the Ravens Project
• Class 13: More learning Games and Computer Bible Games
“The Artist” volunteered to be the student for this review. He has a favorite computer game that he “invents” characters for (on paper). And while I am game to try anything to further my children’s education, I was very happy to have my husband to fall back upon for technical support!
The “Start Here” file states: “Computer Bible Games is a self-paced course.” It’s recommended for anyone age 10 and up, and is designed in bite-sized chunks that the student can run with, asking questions as needed. This turned out to be a good thing. In spite of some non-fatal form of plague that hit our household, we managed to get through the first five classes during the review period.
Computer Science for Kids recommends one class per week and 3 to 6 hours of study for each class. There were a couple of weeks where first Dad, then Mom, then “The Artist”, were in no shape to work. In fact, whatever this virus was, it hit just about every member of the family one right after the other, even necessitating a trip to the emergency room one night! Fun times, right? And here’s where a compliment to the course developers comes in: the course is written in such a manner that, if you do need to take a break for any reason (Ebola virus, vacation, life interference, etc.), it is incredibly easy to pick up where you left off! When my husband or I were down, “The Artist” read the material and did the class project alone. When we were healthy enough to help, The Artist was down for a few days. I was able to use the time to get back up to speed and then check The Artist’s work while awaiting his recovery.
We asked “The Artist” how he liked taking the Computer Bible Games for Small Basic course. His response? “I like it . . . it’s fun! It’s teaching me how to create my own programs. At some point, I’d like to write my own computer games, and I think this is a good beginning.”
If I didn’t make it clear earlier, I am NOT a techie. But I do like the way the class is formatted, and I did manage to pick up some programming education along the way. The important thing is that “The Artist” is enjoying learning computer programming, and is able to do so without a huge amount of parental support. He is looking forward to writing his own computer games, and his brothers are looking forward to playing them in the near future!