This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through a link I may receive a small commission. Please see my Disclosure Policy for full details. This was given to my family in exchange for an HONEST review. No promise was made to make it a positive review if I felt it wasn’t warranted. Nor was it expected by the company. These are the true opinions of my family.
I know we’ve discussed programming software for kids before, but this time I’m bringing you a complete review of Homeschool Programming KidCoder VB. We were given this series months ago for the purposes of reviewing it. I wanted our 11-year-old son (SWB) to completely finish the program, on his own, before writing this review. I also wanted to give him “time to forget”. Basically, he finished both programs in this series and I gave him the summer break to forget everything he learned just to test the program. Harsh? Yep! But that was the only way to know if he really grasped and understood the information or if he was able to just progress without mastery. We learn to mastery in our homeschool and I don’t think that computer programming for kids should be any different! I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. ;) SWB completed both courses and helped me in writing this review. (When I am looking at reviews for homeschool curriculum, I want reviews that give the opinion of the child using it as well as the parent’s take on it.)
The KidCoder VB Series is actually two computer programming courses bundled together. You get KidCoder Windows Programming and KidCoder Game Programming. This is called the Homeschool Programming VB Year Pack on their site. SWB would have preferred to jump right into the Game Programming (what kid wouldn’t?!), but that’s now how it works.
Windows Programming is the first semester and Game Programming is the second semester. That’s exactly how we did it. SWB was so into it that he was constantly asking me to work ahead! “Mom, just one more lesson!” You have no idea how often I heard that phrase from my kid. Seriously. A lot. I rarely gave in to this though. There’s a reason why the course is billed as a semester. If you let your kids rush through just because they’re enjoying it, they’re going to forget it. You wouldn’t let them rush through Latin just because they were having a good time, right? I did let him do two lessons a day for the first few introductory lessons because I thought it wouldn’t hurt anything. This was only a few lessons, though! The couple behind these awesome programs really know their stuff! (Read their “Our Story” to learn all about how they developed their computer programming for kids series and their professional backgrounds. While you’re there, check out “Our Advantages” to see WHY Homeschool Programming, Inc is the way to go.) I completely trust them and I was determined to use the program exactly as they intended.
KidCoder Windows Programming
The KidCoder Windows Programming unit teaches kids Visual Basic. It blows my mind that they were able to break this down to a level that my 11-year-old son could understand and master with EASE. Not only that, he thoroughly ENJOYED it! I am blown away.
- Here is the demo video for KidCoder Windows Programming: VIDEO
- Here is the demo video for the KidCoder Windows Programming Instructional Videos: VIDEO
I’ve taken this list straight from the Homeschool Programming site because I didn’t want to leave out any of it!
Topics Covered in this Course
- Introduction to computer hardware, software and programming history (this is where I allowed two lessons a day)
- Using the Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express development environment
- Managing numeric and text data
- Making decisions about program flow
- Obtaining and validating user input
- Working with numbers and math operations
- Working with strings (text)
- Learning how to debug (find errors in) your code
- Learning how to write loops to execute sections of code many times
- Working with arrays (sets of data)
- Publishing your programs to other computers
- Putting it all together – write a simple graphical game!
Your head is probably spinning at this point. I know mine was. My first thought: How in the world are they going to make this appropriate for an 11-year-old?! I don’t know HOW they did it, but they DID. My kid knows all of this! He understands all of this! He can talk to you about ‘if-then’, arrays, strings, and a bunch of other geek statements. The only time he needed my help was when he couldn’t see the mistake he had made during a debugging session. I think he had just looked at it too long because it was a simple typographical error. That’s it! That’s the only time I played a role in this whole thing.
SWB’s thoughts on the KidCoder Windows Programming unit:
It’s awesome! I wanted to learn to program computers for ever. Mom said she wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted to learn Java for Minecraft. Mom said that I had to start at the beginning. I learned Visual Basic. Some stuff I knew in the beginning. The computer parts and stuff. The rest was new. It really made sense when I read the book and watched the video. I got to make a pong game! It really worked too. I liked this program a lot.
Before you ask, yes I am going to let him learn Java. Yes, it’s mostly for a game they play called Minecraft. However, Java is a wildly popular programming language! Just because he wants to learn it to customize a video game doesn’t mean he won’t be able to use it for other things. Hopefully I will be able to bring you a review of that program later. ;D
KidCoder Game Programming
This is where it gets serious! For the kids, at least. KidCoder Game Programming takes all the stuff they learned in KidCoder Windows Programming and adds it to making video games. (Insert kids fainting all across America) There are some math concepts that SWB wasn’t quite familiar with enough to be able to do this alone. Which actually turned out to be a huge PLUS! It made him want to work hard to master these math issues so that he wouldn’t need Mom there with him to explain it. SCORE!!
- Here is the demo video for KidCoder Game Programming: VIDEO
- Here is the demo video for KidCoder Game Programming Instructional Videos: VIDEO
Again, I’m taking this directly from the Homeschool Programming site so that I don’t leave anything out.
Topics Covered in This Course:
- Game design concepts
- Drawing shapes on the screen
- Responding to keyboard clicks and mouse movements
- Displaying and animating images
- Object position, movement and acceleration
- Collision detection
- Playing music and creating sound effects
- Artificial “game” intelligence
- Saving and loading games
- Game physics
- Printing screens to the printer
They must complete the KidCoder Windows Programming unit first! There’s not getting around this. KidCoder Game Programming won’t make a bit of sense to them if they haven’t done the Visual Basic course first. Look at it as a HUGE reward for them.
Again, BLOWS.ME.AWAY! I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but these programs are the absolute best way for kids to learn computer programming. Hands down.
SWB’s thoughts on KidCoder Game Programming:
This rocks! I got to learn how to really makes games. I can put cool sounds in a game I made. And I get how physics work in games. This one is way cool. I learned a lot in the first class, but this one is my favorite. Mom let me learn how to make video games for school!!!! So cool.
I’m cool! WOOT! Can you tell he really liked this part? I’m not sure he stated that clearly enough.
Ok, the nitty-gritty.
Seriously not as expensive as I thought it would be. Especially for what you’re getting: your children are learning to program computers without you having any knowledge of how to program!
- KidCoder Windows Programming: $70
- KidCoder Windows Programming course WITH videos: $85
- KidCoder Game Programming: $70
- KidCoder Game Programming course WITH videos: $85
- KidCoder Visual Basic Year Pack (both courses): $120
- KidCoder Visual Basic Year Pack WITH videos: $145
Now, if you choose to only purchase the course/s and find that you do want the videos, you can purchase them after the fact.
- KidCoder Windows Programming videos: $20
- KidCoder Game Programming videos: $20
- KidCoder Visual Basic Year Pack videos: $30
So you can see the savings for yourself. I urge you to get the videos. It makes a world of difference! Also, if you know your kid is going to continue with programming (I think all kids should learn programming because it’s such a valuable tool to have today and I think it’s going to become necessary in the not-so-distant future), just go ahead and save some cash by getting the year pack with videos. You’re going to save at least $25 this way. That’s a lot of savings when it comes to our homeschool budgets!
I’m sure you can guess by now what my recommendation is going to be regarding the KidCoder Visual Basic series. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT! It gets 5 thumbs up from our family. My husband, an Electrical Engineer, agrees. He said it’s definitely 5 thumbs up. He is very impressed by how in-depth it goes. According to him, it’s not just fluff and filler.
Footnote: this can be done by 4th/5th graders, but they may need some help, 6th-12th graders should be perfectly fine on their own. SWB was a 5th grader when he did these programs.
Make sure you subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss the post next week when I compare KidCoder to Code Academy!
Homeschool Programming Inc.’s KidCoder Visual Basic Year Pack (Windows Programming and Game Programming) gets an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 thumbs up from the Vegan Homeschool!