Hear what parents and other professionals have to say about these outstanding products! Below are reviews of both the KidCoder and TeenCoder series.
We selected this for our DD because we believe some computer programming knowledge is necessary today. She has never had any interest, so we were afraid this would be one of those "have to" subjects for her. This curriculum really opened her eyes to how computers operated and what you can do with programming. We are only 7 lessons in, and it is already one of her favorite subjects. We started with KidCoder, but expect her to ask for the TeenCoder courses when this one is complete.
Review from Molly D. in October, 2012.
My 9 year old son has numerous careers on his list of “what I want to be when I grow up” and computer programming is one of them. With video games and apps in such high demand, the field for programming expands every day. When I learned about the KidCoder programming course created by Homeschool Programming, Inc., we jumped at the chance to review this curriculum.
This is definitely a hands-on course, designed with kids of all learning styles in mind. The auditory learner will benefit from the instructor’s spoken lessons on the CD, visual learners will love the demonstrations shown in the instructional videos as well as the reinforced lessons in the textbook, and kinesthetic learners will enjoy the hands-on “Your Turn” activities after each chapter. My 9 year old was easily able to follow along with the lessons and he really appreciated the fact that he could go at his own pace and go back to previous screens to review the instructions.
Created by homeschooling parents, who also have a combined 17+ years of experience in the software industry, this curriculum is very organized, steadily paced and does a superb job of communicated the essentials of computers and programming. While I do have personal experience with programming and Visual Basic, the instructional videos are so thorough and easy to understand, that I have not even had to step in as teacher!
By the end of the course, your student will be able to create these Bubble Blaster and Go Fish games! How exciting, huh!
The full course will last a whole year and contains 2 books and 2 CD’s:
1. Windows Programming (first semester) – build fundamental programming skills!
2. Game Programming (second semester) – learn to write computer games!
Be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Review from "Amy" at HeartOfTheMatter.com in October, 2011.
Homeschool Programming, Inc. teaches Windows and Game Programming to students of all ages. With Homeschool Programming, students learn how to write computer programs at their own pace. The fun, engaging approach combines textbook study material and hands-on computer programming activities. No teacher expertise is required! The KidCoder Series is for elementary and middle-school students while the TeenCoder Series is geared towards older students.
The KidCoder: Year Pack includes both the first semester KidCoder: Windows Programming and the second semester KidCoder: Game Programming courses. The KidCoder courses are a hands-on introduction to the field of Windows Programming and they teach students how to write their very own Windows and Game programs using Visual Basic. The TeenCoder Series uses the C# programming language for a more in-depth study of Windows and Game Programming topics.
KidCoder uses a fun, self-study, activity-driven approach to teach computer programming. Any student with normal computer usage skills can learn programming - again, no teacher expertise is required. KidCoder comes with manuals, course CD's and optional instructional videos - the course is very thorough. Each course is installed with a professional setup program that adds graphical course menus with convenient links to all course material. Students don't need to manually unzip or manage a bunch of individual files. The instructional videos are especially helpful. The animation and narration are exceptional - the narrator is very precise and articulate. Again - this is a very thorough product.
In KidCoder: Windows Programming , students learn the basics of programming, including how to create Windows screens, how to use data and how to handle user input. Students create a different program at the end of each chapter.
In KidCoder: Game Programming, students learn the basics of game programming, including game design and logic, how to display graphics, animate images, handle sprites, play sounds, etc.
With KidCoder the course begins with a brief introduction to computer hardware, software, and programming history, followed by an introduction to Microsoft Visual Basic 2010. Students need to download Visual Basic to their computers. Also, it's important that the computer have a Flash enabled web browser to play the videos directly from the computer's DVD drive - they do not play in a standard TV/DVD player. All of this is educational.
Kids need to know about computers. They need to know how to program. This is a great product to get the ball rolling. The end goal of being able to write their own computer games, is the incentive for students to follow through and finish the course. A built-in incentive - how nice!
Review from "Ann" at Homeschool.com on June 22nd, 2011.
Donald said, "I like KidCoder because I got to learn how computers work. I also got to learn the history of computers. I found the step-by-step process explained in the books easy to understand. I learned to make forms for someone to fill out. I didn't know anything about computers when I started but I feel like I learned a lot while using this program. Mom says when I finish both the Windows Programming and the Game Programming and pass all the quizzes, then I'll get a computer science credit for my high school transcript. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to learn about computers. It does take patience because of all the typing but I am glad I got to use this program."
I believe this program is an invaluable resource for teaching a little how a computer works. I will be having all my kids use this program and issue a high school credit for their transcripts and calling it Computer Science. Even though they may never go into any computer work as a career, but learning the whys and whatfores can't hurt in the use of basic computer skills.
Review by "Vickie" from Tumbleweed News on March 28, 2011.
The Kid Coder Year Pack from Homeschool Programming is excellent. It is a non-consumable product so you can use it over and over again for all your children. It gives your children a marketable skill with a useful computer language, Visual Basic. The software required is free and downloadable from Microsoft and used universally.
When our T-bone, age 12, began this course, he worked it entirely on his own! All he did was open the book and begin. Even the software download is part of a lesson, so there is no preparation needed. If you need a little guidance, the teacher’s guide contains a CD with printable instructions on downloading the software, registering the software and installing the help features.
I just have to jump-in here and tell you that, this curriculum has blessed me so much. Our youngest has skills that don’t always bring about the praise of others. His older brother is a champion archer. He’s also a bit more outgoing and enjoys being on-stage or in front of people. Although T-bone is just as bright and personable, his gifts lie more with things he does alone such as computer work. When the Kid Coder books arrived, he jumped up and down with excitement. We have always done all subject except math together with both boys, but the Kid Coder books were just for T-bone. And he couldn’t have been happier with having his own special subject that only he could master. And, oh my, how he has mastered it. He makes these things appear on the PC and he incorporates his own humor and creativity. It has been wonderful. And truthfully, I have NO clue what he’s doing. I helped on day-one with the installation of the software needed and after that, he’s been on his own. He works through the lessons and then shows me what he can make our PC do.
As part of the curriculum there are chapter tests. I love these because it reinforces that he’s reading and understanding the reading, since I’m not instructing at all. I don’t worry so much about grade as I do that he is able to answer each question. If it were left to him, my little hands-on guy would just get to the fun stuff of programming and leave all the reading for another time. With chapter tests, he has to pay attention to the reading as well as the hands-on portion.
The student book has sections for the child to read and then you have follow-up questions, or tests to print from your teacher’s CD. The teacher’s manual contains all the answers. This Kid Coder course is geared to 4th to 8th grade students, and our 7th grader had no trouble with the reading and found it interesting.
Review by "Lori Lynn" from homeschoolblogger.com on March 28, 2011.
They also like to know how things work. Sometimes their favorite part of a movie is the behind the scenes footage in the special features, and their favorite books tend to be non-fiction.
When I was given the opportunity to work with the Homeschool Programming KidCoder Course I knew it would probably be a great fit for my boys. KidCoder is a computer science course designed by homeschooling parents especially for homeschooling families. The KidCoder Series is for use with students in Grades 4-8. There is a Windows Programming Course, and a Game Programming Course. Both use Visual Basic as the platform. This is a good program for beginners, and perfect for helping kids write their very own computer programs!
I liked the curriculum very much. It started by discussing the very first computers. We read through the history of how computers have changed from that enormous machine to the hand held devices we have today. Basic vocabulary was also included so that students would be familiar with computer terminology as well as some easy programmer-speak.
I think this is a great course. It’s geared for children, and I think any parent would feel comfortable teaching it. It’s very parent – supportive. Any time I felt I wasn’t sure about something, the book or the disc was able to make it clear to me.
Review by "Catherine" from homeschoolblogger.com on March 28, 2011.
Sometimes I think this child came out of the womb with a mouse in his hand. He loves all things computer. This year, he's been learning a lot about using Microsoft Office - Word and Power Point especially. When he found out that we were going to review programming software, he literally shouted for joy!
So please allow me to introduce you to his new favorite pass-time - Homeschool Programming.
Homeschool Programming is written by homeschoolers, for homeschoolers. That's always a plus, isn't it? We were given the KidCoder Series, first edition, written for grades 4-8. The second edition was recently released. It begins with a Windows Programming curriculum, to be used over one semester and then goes to Game Programming for the second semester. We finished the Windows curriculum, and are a few lessons into the Game curriculum. There is also a TeenCoder Series for highschoolers.
You do not need to know anything about computer programming to complete this course, they truly do begin at the beginning. The history of computers was fun and interesting to both Ben and me. He laughed at the pictures of those monstrosities that were the first computers. The course is also written so that it can be completed independently by your student. Ben was not able to do this. He is at the lowest age recommendation for the course, however. If you have a 7th or 8th-grader, I'm sure they could do it independently. Expect to help a lot your 4th or 5th grader though, unless they are super smart or have some prior experience. Whatever you student's age, they do need to have experience using a computer, including operating Windows, saving files, using a keyboard and mouse, etc.
Overall, we have loved this program. We will definitely continue with the Game course. It'll be a few years before Ben is old enough for the TeenCoder curriculum, but he's already begging for it!
Review by "Marci" from benandme.com on March 28, 2011.
My son has thoroughly enjoyed the TeenCoder Windows Programming course and is looking forward to the Game Programming course for next semester! He learned so much this semester and has gone on to write many other programs not even listed as a requirement for the course -- this is the first time I've ever seen him take so much interest in a school course!
My son has made tic-tac-toe and checkers games as well! It's funny too, because one of the projects as a course requirement was to make a notepad and he had done it before he reached that chapter. He has also added to the calculator he had to make by adding other keys such as square root, exponent, factorial, and he added a decimal point. He has also made a program to convert to any base (binary, etc). He is very enthusiastic and he is teaching his father to write C# code too!
Thanks again! We took advantage of the Black Friday sales and bought the remaining courses for teens (Game programming, android and java). Woohoo! School that my son can look forward to!
Review submitted by Crystal G. on November 26th, 2012.
Rating: 5.0 stars
"TeenCoder: Windows Programming by Homeschool Programming, Inc." is a text book for teens to learn computer programming at home. It is designed for them to learn by themselves, at their own pace. That is great because most parents would be at a loss about how to help their child if they get stuck in a "For Next loop." The book covers Microsoft’s Visual C# 2010 Express programming platform, which is similar to Microsoft's Visual Basic programming platform. So I am familiar with how this material should be presented. Programming can be VERY difficult because it is alien, unlike almost anything a student has done before. At times it looks like some crazy hybrid of Algebra and broken English. But if it is taught correctly, it can be very engaging for the student, and downright exciting. It is akin to being given all the tools and education needed to create your own Hollywood movie. Students who learn programming can create just about anything their minds can imagine. It combines their reasoning skills with their boundless imagination. The hard part is acquiring those skills.
"TeenCoder" is an excellent book for laying the foundation for strong Windows programming skills. It is written in a warm conversational style. It makes you feel as though the instructor is sitting by your side having a conversation with you about the material. It just doesn't get any better than that. Images, examples, and well-crafted sample programs enhance this extremely well-organized text book. Plop your teen down in front of their computer with this book and in 6 months he or she will be begging you for the next one! Who knows, your child could be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg!
Review by James Ventrillo for Readers Favorite on June 18th, 2012.
Last year we had the great opportunity to review a couple of beginner computer courses. One was on how to design a web page and the other was on how to make your own games. Both were great and John Allen loved them. This year, when we heard that we were going to review another computer programming course, John Allen and I were both really excited. There was only one problem. I had to pick which course to review. The KidCoder course, designed for students in 4th-8th grade, or the TeenCoder series, written for 9th-12th graders. John Allen was in 8th grade, so the KidCoder course made sense, but after I read the descriptions of each, I felt that John Allen was ready for the older TeenCoder course. The fact that the final project was designing a computer chess program, a game that John Allen loves, really helped seal the deal. I'm glad I ended up choosing the older course. John Allen is really enjoying it.
Homeschool Programming Inc. has really done a great job in preparing this course. The teacher's manual says that it is written by actual software programming professionals but, although it is very thorough, it is very easy to use and understand. Each of the 17 chapters has 3-6 lessons in it along with a chapter review and an activity. The chapters start with the very basics. Chapter one is an "Introduction to Window's Programming" and it's project is how to install Studio C# Express Edition. C# is the "language that they will use to write all of their programs in. Chapter 17 is all about the final project, which I've already mentioned is the Chess game. Along the way they will learn all about such things as an "Introduction to C#", "Working With Strings" and "Inheritance and Polymorphism".
Now, when I saw the chapter titles, I thought that this would be cinch for me. After all, I was a pro at making things with strings in school. I could make a mean "Jacob's Ladder" and "Cat's Cradle". In high school I was really into music and knew all about C#. And, I went to Bible College and learned about Polytheism. That's a lot like Polymorphism isn't it?
In fact, I was soon to find out that none of the things that John Allen was learning had anything to do with the things I learned in school. And the meager computer course I took back in '86 and the HTML stuff that I dabble with on my blog don't hold a candle to what is contained in this course.
What was I to do? Was I up the creek without a paddle? NOPE!
Really, this course is written so well that you almost don't need the teacher manual at all. In fact, most days I just told John Allen to do the next lesson or activity and left him to work on his own. Only once or twice did he ever call for my assistance. But, I say you "almost" don't need it. The Teacher's Edition does include a Chapter Summary, Activity Solution and Chapter Test for each chapter, and the computer disk that comes with the manual has printable "Hint Files" that give extra helps to a student who may be having problems with an activity. It also has printable versions of the tests if you wish to print them out to use them.
Thankfully, I didn't need to know much (if anything) about computer programming for John Allen to use this course and, besides, it is written so well that even if I did know something about it, my knowledge wouldn't be needed much.
John Allen is having a great time with this and can't wait until the second part of the course.
What? I haven't mentioned a second part? OH YEA! The Windows Programming stuff that I have talked about above is only the first semester of this year long program. The second semester is all about GAME PROGRAMMING! Yep! John Allen will learn how to make games complete with animated graphics and sound effects. His projects will include multi-player games and even games with artificial intelligence.
I am really pleased with Homeschool Programming's TeenCoder course! John Allen has really had fun with it and, as I've mentioned, it really doesn't need much teacher intervention at all. I'm thinking about ordering the KidCoder course for myself - I probably better start a little simpler than John Allen.
We got to review the First Edition of this great product, I just found out that the Second Edition is now out and there are some added things that you can get! Starting at the end of May, you can order instructional videos for both Windows Programming and Game Programming. They won't replace the student textbook, but will be an added thing that a student can use if he needs more reinforcement or may need something explained a little bit more.
Review by "tink38570" of Families Again on March 28, 2011.
My son’s interest in the computer quickly evolved from playing to creating. He started out using simple graphic software (like PrintMaster). He learned how to draw using the computer (He draws with a pencil, too). He has taught himself how to manipulate digital images and edit videos. Most recently he began creating games with Game Maker. It was obvious that at some point he should take his computer skills to the next level and begin to learn programming.
The problem was how?
I am not a computer programmer. My husband is not a computer programmer. My son is too young for dual-enrollment classes at the community college.
That’s why I cannot adequately express how excited I was at being given the opportunity to review the TeenCoder Series by Homeschool Programming.
TeenCoder is a High School level course consisting of two-parts. Part One covers Windows Programming and has 17 chapters. Part Two covers Game Programming in 15 chapters. Windows Programming is taught using C# and Microsoft’s Visual C# Express Edition (available free). Game Programming uses Microsoft’s Visual C# Express like the Windows course, plus adds Microsoft XNA Game Studio.
My son has been working through Part One during this school year. Both parts could be done in one school year at a pace of a chapter per week, but since he’s young, we’re spreading it out. The text is well-written with plenty of examples and activities for the student to complete. There are tests and solutions included for each chapter as well.
My biggest concern about my son taking a computer programming class was how I could help him. That has not been a problem at all with the TeenCoder series. The text is so well-written that my son has needed very little help. But the Teacher’s Guide is written with this exact problem in mind. It tells you what you should look for when you’re checking the activities, and provides a disk with files to give your student hints on the code if they get stuck. And if that’s not enough, the authors invite you to contact them with questions.
The Homeschool Programming website provides helpful information about choosing the right program including sample pages and demo videos. The TeenCoder year pack can be purchased for $130 or each book can be purchased separately for $75 each. My son and I are very pleased with this curriculum and highly recommend it for the computer-minded student.
Review by "Kristen" from homeschoolblogger.com on March 28, 2011.
One of the things that Connor keeps coming back to when discussing the "what do you want to be when you grow up" question is the idea of computer programming, and particularly game programming. When we were plotting out his potential high school course of study, he insisted that we block off a credit for computer programming.
Seeing as I know virtually nothing about anything like this, I kept my eyes opened, and I hoped. I hoped something would come along that would let him teach this to himself and it would be something painless for me.
Enter: Homeschool Programming. When I found out we'd be reviewing their entire Teen Coder series, I was thrilled – and Connor was ecstatic.
It has been perfect.
The TeenCoder series consists of two "courses" that are each perfect for a one-semester high school course. The first course is Windows programming, the second is Game Programming. Each course consists of two books – a student textbook, and a Teacher's Edition. The student book is meant to be self-teaching, which was wonderful. The Teacher's Edition contains a SHORT chapter summary, an easy-to-understand explanation of the student project for that chapter, a test and the answers. The Teacher's Edition also contains a disk with pdf files of the chapter tests and loads of help files.
Prerequisites for Windows Programming is that the child already be familiar with using a Windows computer. Prerequisites for Game Programming is the completion of Windows Programming or comparable C# programming skills.
I'll talk a bit about the Windows Programming course, but note that the Game Programming one is very similar. We just didn't get that far. I was hoping Connor would complete the final project from chapter 17 for Windows Programming before I had to write the review, but it looks like his computerized chess game won't be complete until the end of this week.
So, what does a typical week look like when using this program? Well, Connor tended to do all of the chapter reading in one day, which typically took an hour or so. Towards the last third of the course, he'd generally spread that over two days, and at that point he'd be making an effort to find somewhere quiet so he could focus. The text is written TO the student, and mostly in a pretty engaging style. Connor would spend another day working on the hands-on part. On the PC, he would work with C# programming language (via a free downloadable program). The assignments increased in difficulty through the semester, but Connor never felt overwhelmed or unsure as to how to proceed. Sometimes the programming part would take a couple of days, but he was usually doing that in just one day. The last step was to take the short chapter tests. Connor would have preferred to skip this part, to be honest, but he really didn't complain.
The greatest part? Everything is so well laid-out that he never really had to come to me with questions. Oh, that part is marvelous. And Connor has loved it. He feels he is learning a lot. One thing he really appreciates is that the assignments did require him to think and figure stuff out for himself, but they built logically on what had been presented or demonstrated in the chapter.
Review by "Debra" from blogspot.com on March 28, 2011.
The TeenCoder Computer Programming curriculum is a one-semester computer science course in the TeenCoder series. This course provides a broad base of computer instruction that is not limited to programming. However, a large part of the curriculum is a very hands-on approach to 'C' programming. The 'C' programming language is one of the most popular and widespread in the computer-programming world today.
The course begins with an introduction to the history of computers and computer hardware. The student is then immersed in computer programming through a variety of topics: understanding data types and data arrays, getting user input and finding runtime errors, controlling program flow with conditional expressions, working with numbers and math operations, string manipulation, loops and advanced program flow, creating and calling functions, and good coding techniques. The course wraps up with a thorough overview of the software development process. Throughout each of these topics, a student project is provided so that the student can practice the concept as it is introduced. The projects increase in complexity throughout the course, culminating in the final project that is completely of the student's design. All of the student's work is done using Microsoft's Visual Studio C++ 2008 Express Edition that ships with this product. This puts your student right in the same league using the same tools that the professionals do.
For the parent that has no computer programming experience, do not fear. The Teencoder Series products have an accompanying teacher's edition that includes sample tests with answer keys for each unit. There is also an activity solutions CD, which will provide you with the exact lines of code that you should see in your student's completed projects. There is no need for prior programming experience on your part. The actual teaching content is in the Student Textbook. This allows your self-directed learner to excel at his or her own pace with all of the information at his/her fingertips.
Prior to homeschooling my children, I worked for a medical software development company. The programmers in our organization used the same development software and languages that are contained in this course. This is not an outdated programming language or environment. The cost of the TeenCoder Computer Programming course is a little higher than a programmer's reference text published by Microsoft. However, the material provided in the TeenCoder Series is much more reader friendly, not to mention the value of the project code and tests with answer keys available in the teacher's edition. This product gets a definite thumbs up!
Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2009
For nearly a year, I have been interested in choosing a programming curriculum for my teen that is both accessible and a decent stepping-stone toward real-world application. I have analyzed and worked through several courses in that time, prior to looking at the Programming for Teens books for C#. Other programs were heavily 3D-model intensive or were primarily text-display based. This course on C# is a happy medium between the extremes, all while communicating the fundamentals common to most programming languages and methods.
The author does a very excellent job of holding the reader's hand during the crucial steps, from installation to detailing how the student is to approach their solution to each project. It is clear that the intention is to get the student generating visual programs very quickly (an important step to boost the student’s confidence and enthusiasm early on).
Coming from a not-so-computer-geek, I was impressed with the content of these courses as compared to what I have seen in the past. Could it require some time with the teacher's manual or your closest computer geek friend? Sure. But that's okay with me, as this is a serious high school course where the student will learn programming basics and have a great foundation for further learning, if interested. Homeschool Programming now has videos in the works as well, which may be able to take the place of the computer geek friend (I have not seen these myself, so this is just speculation on my part).
In conversations with my computer geek friend who shared his thoughts above, I know that he liked the course (he preferred the second semester to the first, but obviously the first is necessary to the second). In fact, he is planning on working through the entire course over the summer with his son and mine (My son has not yet completed the course and I'm sure would not mind a refresher of the sections he has covered!). The TeenCoder Year Pack (containing both courses) is available for $130 or you can buy each semester individually for $75. If you're looking for a course that teaches more than basic computer skills, this seems like a good option. So grab your nearest computer geek or the video tutorials and let me know what you think of this high school programming course!
–Review by "Lori and Lori's geek-friend" from homeschoolreviewsandmore.com on March 28, 2011.