Cypher Coders are offering a FREE live online taster class, for children aged 6-12 interested in learning key coding concepts and building their very own game!
We tried out the free class and it was a huge hit! The session is one hour long and is fantastic for learning the basics, plus it’s kept us busy for hours this week playing around and making different games.
I’ll be honest, I had mixed feelings on signing up. My son hasn’t done anything like this before, he’s only just turned 6 and usually prefers running riot and wrestling his little brother over doing anything academic! I was hoping it would be something a bit fun and different for him to try out, I needn’t have worried as he was hooked from the start.
Sessions are held over Zoom (there are also in-person coding camps based in London). Once a slot is booked you’ll receive an email with instructions, then a reminder and password the day before the class. I’ve managed to mainly escape using Zoom throughout the whole pandemic, so logged on early and was relieved when it worked without a hitch.
Our tutor was really welcoming and friendly, and took the time to get to know the students and find out their coding experience. My son enjoyed seeing the other kids on screen as it was a novelty for him (our lockdown home schooling was all paper-based – I’m still recovering from the trauma!). I’d imagine that using the clubs and camps more often would be a fun way for friends to keep in touch if a group signed up together.
The lesson started with the tutor giving a demo of a dance party game that she’d made earlier on the free coding website Scratch. It looked great and the fact that she could share her screen and highlight different tabs and buttons as she was talking made it really clear as she explained how to get started. The group size was small, and the tutor made sure that everyone understood the instructions at every stage. If anyone got a bit stuck they were asked to share their screen so any problems could be resolved quickly.
I helped out a little at first as my son hadn’t used a laptop much but he quickly got the hang of navigating around, and I was able to get on with a few jobs nearby. The only time I was needed was to switch between windows from Scratch to Zoom and help him share his screen, but with a bit more practice I’m sure I could leave him to it.
Students were guided through the steps to choose a backdrop, character and sound effects, moving on to how to fit lines of code together in a user-friendly jigsaw style to make the characters move around. My son was chuffed to bits with the dinosaur game he developed, with a Pterodactyl flying around the jungle, throwing shapes! The challenge was to click the moving target with your mouse to make it change colour, so it was simple enough for little brother to get involved in testing it out as well.
It was a great way to learn some basics about coding, and I could see the benefits of the elements of literacy, numeracy and logic involved. More importantly it was super fun, and my son felt pretty proud of himself making a game from scratch.
We saved our project so we can come back to it anytime, it’s given him hours of fun already (and given me a few hours of quiet!). Now that he’s been shown the basics it’s really easy to play around with different effects and to copy and tweak the code that we learned, although he’s already asking questions that I’m clueless about! There’s no obligation at all to sign up to more sessions, but with term-time lessons and themed Holiday Camps available there’s plenty of chances to learn more.
According to Cypher, it’s all about getting kids future-ready. Already, 67% of new jobs in STEM are in computing and the importance of technology in industry is only going to increase. Their award-winning curriculum not only teaches them how to code, but also develops broader skills such as creativity, communication and collaboration.
The lesson got a big thumbs up from us and some of our fellow Mumblers too, who had children of different ages enjoy a free lesson.
“…the teacher was fab and it’s literally the longest I’ve seen him sit down and listen! ” – Gateshead Mumbler (Mini Mumbler aged 6)
“…it’s been amazing! X Loved it, I’ve learned loads too!” – Hull Mumbler (Mini Mumbler aged 11)