Blogger Review: How To Teach Kids to Code By Using Their Favorite Game

cI know that kids use of technology can be a hot topic worthy of many opinions and debates. But like it or not, it is the world our kids live in now, and there’s no indication that amount of technology in everyday life is going to decrease. As a homeschooling mom, I want nothing more than to help prepare my son for his future. We do this through traditional school subjects, character, and social development, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t include technology as part of his curriculum. I want his technology education to go beyond how to use technology but the idea of me teaching him programming skills scares me to death! When I was given the opportunity to review the Learn to Mod Minecraft program from Educents I jumped at the chance.

engineeringHow it works

You see, I have a Minecraft lover in my family, and he will do almost anything if it involves Minecraft. As I type this, he is creating an interactive digestive system on Minecraft. So if I can take a program he loves and is familiar with to teach him something important yet out of my realm of expertise then I am all for it.

The Minecraft program allows for users to modify the game through computer programming. These “mods” are quite popular and help Minecraft players take the game to the next level. So why not learn some basic programming skills using Minecraft? That is exactly what Learn to Mod does!

I’m sure you can imagine the excitement as we logged in to Learn to Mod for the first time. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but the site was super easy to navigate! We quickly found the modding lessons. The modding lessons are divided by subject matter and allow the user to earn badges for each completed lesson. The picture below shows the lessons for using drones to build in Minecraft. As you can see, once the lesson is successfully completed the badge is marked in full color. This makes it easy to remember where you left off.

Lessons focusing on practice

One thing I love about Learn to Mod is that each lesson is very focused on a specific task to teach. This makes the lessons short, easy to understand, and easy to put into practice. This is really important for my highly distractible kiddo. Each lesson includes a short video and step by step instructions that help him stay on task.

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The folks at Learn to Mod also really understand that true learning takes practice. Each task has multiple lessons, each one leading to more and more independence. As a classroom teacher, I was to introduce a concept, model the concept, do whole group practice and then release the students to do independent practice. This is what the lessons at Learn to Mod reminded me of – slowly releasing the student to independence.

Each lesson has a practice component that built right into the Learn To Mod platform. The lessons at the beginning of teaching a concept walk you through step by step. But as you get further along, the user is challenged to view the mod in action, figure out what is happening, and then go and re-create the mod. I love the critical thinking skills that this uses and helps develop.

I love the critical thinking skills that this uses and helps develop.

As you work on building the mod in the Learn to Mod program, there is a tracker that appears at the top of the programming area to let the user know how close (or far) they are from finishing. My son has developed independence knowing that he can self-check his work using the tracker. If the number grows towards 100% complete he knows he added a correct piece of code. If the number decreases, then he knows the code he just added was not correct, and he can fix it.

mod3Smart troubleshooting

Learning a new skill is never without issue, and sometimes he just gets stuck. Learn to Mod understands this and has a built in ‘hint button’ that the user can click to get a hint on the piece of code that needs to be changed. This hint button has helped him develop independence and saved him from frustration on more than one occasion.

A couple summers ago I purchased a similar modding class from another company for my son to use during summer break. This other course taught multiple tasks in one lesson that moved very quickly. My plan for a fun and exciting summer of Minecraft modding more often than not ended in lots of frustration by both he and I. More often than not, I had to sit with him and guide him through each step due to the details and complexity. We haven’t experienced anything like that with the Learn to Mod program. In fact, Learn to Mod has led to more independence, many, many smiles and lots of proud moments.

So I’m just the Mom – why take my word for how amazing the Learn to Mod program is. Instead, here’s the words of my 12-year-old, Landry. He’s the real Minecraft expert!

Hands down, I would highly recommend the Learn to Mod program. It’s a great way not just to learn more about Minecraft, but also to learn important computer programming skills too!

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Similar Resources You Will Love

Looking for some other ways to teach those important technology skills to your child? Educents has some great options in addition to Learn to Mod. Check out these other options too!

  • Taken Charge is a browser-based video game series for teaching technology to students in grades 3rd – 9th. The Taken Charge game platform utilizes game-based learning with defined educational outcomes. Taken Charge teaches, assesses and validates each students’ learning.
  • Welcome to the Future is a book that teaches kids to code by building apps that work on real phones and tablets. Children ages 6-12 learn computer programming, first by following instructions to create fun, interactive apps, and then by building their own.
  • How about some Minecraft for reading time. My Minecraft lover is not too fond of reading, so anytime I can get him reading I am happy. The Ultimate Unofficial Guide is filled with tons of information for playing Minecraft. What a great way to check for reading comprehension – read and then put into practice on Minecraft what you read about.

About the All-Star Blogger

Amy Teaching in Blue Jeans

Amy Teaching in Blue JeansAmy is a former kindergarten teacher turned homeschooling mom. She focuses on multi-sensory teaching methods and making learning fun and engaging. Amy shares her teaching tips and resources at Teaching in Blue Jeans.