Summer Learning Resources for Parents
Great programming environment for turning mathematical ideas into beautiful art.
The BBC micro:bit
$15-20 programmable technology for electronics, robotics, art, and physical computing projects. The newer v2 of the micro:bit and original version are hard to source for the time being. The first version is plenty powerful. Kintronik, a fast-shipping UK distributor is your best bet, but you can search Amazon.com too. Just make sure you get a micro:bit, USB cable, and battery box.
Micro:bit getting started materials
- Handout: Micro:bit getting started with MakeCode plus connecting external motors, LEDs, & speakers/headphones (PDF)
- Gary Stager’s micro:bit project starter Ideas
- Super collection of Scratch and micro:bit activity cards and project ideas. (2021)
Micro:bit software options
- Microsoft MakeCode programming environment for all devices
- Using micro:bits with Scratch instructions (including necessary Scratch Link software for Bluetooth Mac/Windows)
- Firmware (.HEX file) for using the micro:bit with Scratch
- New programming environments for learning (Fall 2020)
Other stuff to buy (for our workshops & beyond)
More micro:bit resources
- Code Club Micro:bit Project Ideas
- micro:bit Foundation Lessons, Project Ideas, Activities
- micro:mag, the magazine of the micro:bit community
- Books, projects, magazines, tutorials, and other programming languages
A New Block-based Programming Environment (Alpha version – try it out!)
- MicroBlocks programming environment
Micro:bit and micro:bit add-on board suppliers and vendors
- Sparkfun Electronics – Specializes in hobbyist electronic components, tools, and kits. Sparkfun micro:bit boards and add-ons. Ask for educator discounts.
- Adafruit – Unique and Fun DIY Electronics and Kits. Check the Young Engineers section for selections that are whimsical and fun. Ask for educator discounts.
- Robotshop – All your robot needs in one place. Robots for home, school, and professional use, plus drones, wearable technology, kits, toys, parts, and apps.
- PiMoroni – “Tech Treasures” abound from this UK based vendor for Raspberry Pi, micro:bit, and other microcontrollers, plus kits, accessories, and tools. The name? It stands for Pirate-Monkey-Robot-Ninja, of course.
- Kitronik – Makes and sells electronic project kits for micro:bit, e-textiles, robotics, and other maker needs. UK-based.
Program Your Own Gameboy!
Would you believe that it’s possible to not only program arcade games (and learn a lot by doing so), but to play them on inexpensive game machines that fit in your pocket? Learn how and get the gear!
Programming environment for creating games, animations, interactive stories used by millions of kids sharing tens of millions of projects that may be remixed.
Scratch Books for Kids
There is a growing library of Scratch books being published, but these are the four I recommend. The first two choices may be the best since they were specifically written for the current generation of Scratch, Scratch 3.
25 Scratch 3 Games for Kids: A Playful Guide to Coding by Max Wainewright is a beautiful new book of Scratch 3 game programming projects presented in a highly visual style. (grades 4-7)
Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games is a terrific graphic novel filled with Scratch projects. (grades 4-7)
Scratch For Kids For Dummies by Derek Breen is a terrific project-based approach to learning Scratch. Note: This was written for Scratch 2.0, but remains a valuable resource, particularly for teachers.
Natalie Rusk’s terrific The Official Scratch Coding Cards (Scratch 3.0): Creative Coding Activities for Kids are a great getting started resource.
Browser-based multimedia version of the Logo programming language allowing for an infinite range and type of projects to be created by kids.
Fun Summer Reading
A novel for kids filled with math and problem solving!
The Best Tablet/Mac/PC Game Ever
The Zoombinis is an exceptionally fun, challenging, and rewarding game for kids of all ages. Successful game play requires a great deal of logic, mathematical thinking, pattern recognition, and code breaking. If your kid is going to have an tablet, this game should be on it. The Zoombinis has the extended play value of chess, but appeals to a wider audience.