Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Code for Teens a Homeschool Crew Review

I’m really excited to share with you our latest review from Code for Teens and their Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1).

Back in April at the TPA convention in Wichita, KS my son who joined me at the convention so he could help out with some of his curriculum. During the convention he came to me and said, “MOM, you have to come and see this book!” He went on to inform me that they are really busy talking to other parents. He told me, “I really want this book it’s amazing and you should tell them about reviewing with the Crew because, it’s really good.” After all this I still had no idea what kind of book it was. All I knew was that he was really excited about it. For him to mention the Crew review it was strange indeed, my first thought was that it must be way out of our budget. He dragged me over there and I was excited to see him be so enthusiastic about whatever it was. I should have known it had something to do with coding. After looking at it and talking to Christine Moritz (just in case you’re wondering my son reminded me again about the Crew in a whisper!) The best part was that the book wasn’t expensive! I (my son was really excited) was delighted to know that they already had information on the Homeschool Review Crew. My son was happy that I he walked away with the book in hand.

The book is written by Jeremy Moritz and illustrated by his talented wife Christine Moritz. Jeremy Moritz is a software engineer, a homeschool dad, and has been teaching teens in throughout the years.

Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is for teens to learn how to code by themselves. They are learning Javascript in this first volume. As a parent you don’t need to know any coding at all. Thank goodness or all would be lost if it was up to me to teach him how to code. My son is familiar with coding already and has been doing it for a while. He is all for a refresher course as he was self-taught with many of the concepts. He knows some Javascript and felt that this would fill in the gaps and he would learn some previous concepts he didn’t know from a pro.

This is a softbound book with 219 pages and 10 chapters. The pages are glossy and on a heavy weight paper to last countless flipping back and forth. The book is fully illustrated and appropriate for the intended teen. The illustrations and the writing style are fun and humorous. I know my son liked that it didn’t feel so serious and yet at the same time is teaching a solid foundation in coding.

Chapter 1: Hello World!
Chapter 2: Time to Operate
Chapter 3: Comment on the String Section
Chapter 4: Have Some Functions
Chapter 5: Shall I Compare?
Chapter 6: Logically Operational
Chapter 7: Projects Galore
Chapter 8: Hip Hip Array!
Chapter 9: Loop a Round
Chapter 10: Make a Hangman Game

Also in the back is a Conclussion that talks about the next installment for Volume 2 which will cover HTML and CSS and he goes on to explain why he choose to do and untraditional approach of teaching Javascript first rather than HTML and CSS like most courses.

Then there is an Answer Key which breaks down each exercise, review, and quizzes. Honestly, it’s all a foreign language to me! I’ve heard my son use the terminology but, I just listen while not getting it at the same time look! This book encourages you to look at the Answer Key if you need help.

The last portion of the book is the Glossary. A nice addition to go back to if you forget what something is. My son read the glossary first!

You will need a computer with Google Chrome as a browser. A smartphone or tablet is not going to work with this. It is set up for learning code for both Windows and Mac. It tells you which keys to use on both operating systems throughout the book.

After I read the introduction and looked over the book I was satisfied that my son was going to learn a lot. It builds the concepts with each lesson. You get step by step instructions in layman’s terms but, at the same time you are learning all the technical terminology. Some of the words are in bold which means they are in the glossary as they are important words you need to know. In the first chapter there are several pictures showing you the console to make sure you start out without any problems.

Each chapter starts out explaining the concepts being taught. Next are the exercises that you will read and then apply the exercise with the coding. You get feedback from everything you are doing as it’s an interactive book. The reading portions are smaller and it alternates back and forth with several exercises.

The code portion is in a in a blue text with a grey highlight and it gives you all the coding formulas you need to complete your task. Some of it your adding your own information into it. Basically it tells you to hit ENTER, what you need to type in and where. It explains what you should expect to happen.

In Chapter 1 I learned why some of the text in blue, red, and black. That clarified some things for me when I look at the backside of my blog when I’m trying to figure something out! I took something away from just the first several pages. My son just grinned at me when I told him what I learned!

Each chapter teaches a new concept and builds upon itself in a steady pace. There are drills and Aggregate Reviews, lots of practice coding opportunities.   Each chapter concludes with a Do-it –Yourself exercise which my son created projects like: Average Age of Your Family, Four Square, Your Personal Bio, Town Lottery, and other projects.

My son liked that it used the computer coding language rather than sugar coat it with kid friendly terminology.  He also appreciated the Key Concepts at the end of the chapters. He said he made him double check everything to make sure he understood those Key Concepts before moving ahead to the next chapter. My son is really serious with coding and wants to possibly go into this line of work someday.

The author recommends that the student creates a Google Doc workbook to keep track of their work.

My son told me something that he liked in the first chapter. He liked how it had a section dedicated to making errors within the Javascript syntax.  He felt that’s a good way to let someone make an error while coding so you can see the messages so you’re not confused by it later. He said, “That this would have saved him a lot of time if he would have started off coding with this book.” The error messages use to frustrate him when he was teaching himself. He actually has a lot to say about this book and all of it has been good.

We have had unbearable heat here in Kansas and no one in my family wants to play outside. My son has been busy learning Javascript at his own pace and has completed several chapters already rather quickly. I hope to see Volume 2 soon and other books to follow. 

My son states, “I think this book is amazing and the authors personality is great.” I hope he’s at the convention again next year because, I want to meet him also and to shake his hand.”  It’s very easy to follow and I think even my mom could learn how to code if she’d just sit down long enough to work through it.” Yes, he really said that! He went on to say. “I learned a lot and by the end of the book I may go over it again if the next book isn’t out when I’m done.”

I would say that Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is a winner in my house. If I had one complaint I think this book would be better in a spiral format to lay out flat. My son disagrees with me as he likes how it is already.  

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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew have had teens learning how to code with Code for Teens. Stop by and see what they think about Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1)


Monday, July 9, 2018

Tales of the Kingdom 30 th Anniversary Edition by David & Karen Mains Book Review

Twelve stories centering on the adventures of two orphaned brothers who escape a polluted city ruled by an evil enchanter to seek their exiled king in Great Park – the place where trees grow. This exciting set of 12 incredible Gold-Medallion Award-Winning short stories for children of all ages (from best-selling authors David and Karen Mains) offers fast-paced action and engaging characters wrapped up in exciting storytelling that deals with good versus evil themes. In addition, your family will appreciate the beautiful, full-color illustrations, featuring multicultural characters that bring each chapter to life.

My thoughts:

When I first came across this book I had no idea that it was a revised Publication originally published in 1983. I was intrigued as this was the first I had heard of the book and the series.

I received a hardback book in which the authors autographed for me. Thank you that’s a nice touch. This is a chapter book with 12 chapters and a total of 80 pages. The chapters vary from a few pages to maybe 10 at the most. The book is made with quality in mind as it has a wonderful binding and the paper quality is superb.  The illustrations are many and in full color. I love stories with illustrations that have a lot of details. I like looking around them and seeing all the small details in an illustration.

I like to think of the story as an allegory and science fiction story. Age range would probably be 1 st grade to 5 th grade. Younger depending on your child as it does have a few scary parts and the allegoric style may be confusing to younger kids. I have found that some younger kids get it and others don’t.  When I mention scary it does have the death of a mother and her being burned by the Enchanter and a few other things that may scare them. You know your child best.

The main character is Scarboy which is later named Hero. He escapes the Enchanted city with his little brother Little Child after his mother dies and they are hunted by the Orphan Keepers.

 Each chapter is a short story within itself. Each story teaches a Biblical concept within the allegory. Hero meets many new friends while searching for the true King.  I see in the story that sin has corrupted the world. Because of that sin we have to search for truth. Seeking for truth isn’t always easy. It takes faith in believing in something that we can’t see.

I’ll let you read the book yourself to find out the rest of the story.

This is a series of three books. The start of the trilogy is “Tales of the Kingdom” “Tales of the Resistance” and the last book is “Tales of Restoration”.

This book is a joy to read and I look forward to getting the other two books in the series.

 I received a free copy of this product from BookCrash.com in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Memory Cross Review

The Memory Cross is an exciting evangelism tool for children and adults.  The origami Gospel tracts fascinate everyone who sees them.  The designs of the Bible tracts makes people want to keep reading and share them with their friends.
My Thoughts:

I’ve used a lot of tracks throughout the years. Some tracts are more appealing for children and others for adults. The Memory Cross is by far the most unique gospel tracts I’ve seen and will be received well by adults and children alike. 

 I received a sample bag of 13 tracks to try out.

The Memory Cross is created by Pastor Andy Lambert in Winston-Salem, NC in the United Methodist Church. He wanted something unique to help with teaching children to capture their attention in class and to teach them the scripture. Thus Memory Cross came about as a result.

The tracts are bright and colorful. The paper is sturdy for countless use while folding the cards over and over. They even have a blank tract you can color yourself to make a unique track yourself. The blank card tracks would be a fun activity for kids to make one themselves. The kids could take home their homemade tracks to share with their parents. I remember when my husband was the children’s pastor in the inner city of Denver we would make sure the kids took home tracks for their parents. Some of the parents couldn’t read and I can’t help thinking how neat these would have been for the kids to take home sharing their homemade gospel tracks with their parents. What a unique way to share the gospel.

I don’t know if I can adequately explain how these work. Each card opens up in the middle, then folds out horizontally, then vertically and coming to the shape of the cross and keeps folding within itself until it goes to the beginning. Each fold is a unique picture all by itself. Don’t worry they aren’t complicated to use. You can watch the video to get a full picture of The Memory Cross. 

They have a variety of options available from scripture memorizations, Ten Commandments, ones for adults and kids, Spanish, VBS, and much more available.
This are quite impressive and can be used in your children’s school, VBS, mission trips, and spreading the gospel to others. There is a variety of sizes available also.

Another neat feature is that The Memory Cross can be customized for your unique organization. 

The Memory Cross is a high quality product to share the message of our Lord and Savior Jesus. I highly recommend them.

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I received a free copy of this book to review from CWA Review Crew.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations


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