Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Free Online Coding with Hour of Code

Once again our amazing library introduced us to another free online homeschooling resource! We signed up for an Hour of Code: Minecraft at our  local library.  My kids loved it so I asked the librarian when they would have another, and she said it is a FREE ONLINE RESOURCE!

Hour of Code is a resource that public schools use primarily during a Computer Science Education Week, but it  is available for use to anyone all year long. As a homeschooler, I am thankful that we can have access to such a great curriculum right in our homes.

Free Online Coding for Kids: Hour of CodeTM 

SAFETY NOTES: Anytime you are allowing a child or student to go online, please take basic safety precautions.
  • Passwords on EVERYTHING. Our computer, along with all Internet-capable devices, is password protected, and can only be used while me or my husband is in the house AND have given permission. Use a strong password your kids would never guess. 
  • Safe Search  Filters. Make sure all your search engines are changed to safe search filter, especially your phone.This is good protection for your own heart, as well as your children. You can find these by going into Google Settings. 
  • The best Parental Control is Parental Presence. Do not allow children alone with internet capable technology.  

My first post about coding for kids was teaching kids how to use Scratch, and according to the librarian Scratch  is an HTML computer language. Hour of Code uses many computer languages, including Blocks, Python, Tynker, Javascript and more.  The type of computer language is on the description of each activities.

I am thankful that they get a variety of introductions to differing coding languages. My sons are comfortable with Scratch, but had to do several beginner level activities for Javascript.

Every activity has a Teacher Resource page, including tips for kids, worksheets, lesson plans, and recommended ages for game.

The TEACH page also gives great timelines for different ages, and suggestions for which activities to begin with. If you have several children and would like to track their progress, you can sign up for a teacher portal. 

You do not a need a sign in for Hour of Code, but most of the follow-on courses require account creation to save student progress. 

My sons watched a short How-To video with the librarian, and they were off!  The How-To page provided plenty of tutorial for all ages. 

No matter what your child's age or interest, there is an activity for them.  The website also divides activities by a few factors:
  •  Ages/Grade (starting at Pre-Reader to Grade  9+)
  •  Beginner or Comfortable levels of coding
Like I said before, my sons didn't know Javascript, so even though they are in 7th grade, they did grade 3 activities to familiarize themselves with the coding language. 
Kodables is for Pre-Readers to 5th Grade

Code with Anna and Elsa for Grade 2+

Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code Grades 2+
Digital Art in Pixels with CodeHS for Grade 6+

Friday, January 10, 2020

Porn In Your Pocket: Why My Kids Don't Have A Smartphone

This is my son's phone.

It is a simple tracfone that costs us $5 to buy at Family Dollar, and $19 every 90 days to put minutes on. He can text me and call, but it has no camera, no internet, and can not receive pictures.  It is also used often to call my phone when it's lost! Tracfone can also be bought on Amazon or at Walmart.

One of my friends calls smart phones "porn in your pocket". While it sounds crass, it's also extremely accurate.  No human being is above temptation, and for me to think my "good kid" is immune to one of the most addicting substances on this planet (brain chemistry of porn addiction is just scary) is frankly naive.

I can't shield my kids from all evil in this world, but while they are still impressionable preteen boys, I can withhold the ability to have porn in their pocket.

If your kids have a smartphone, that is 100% your decision. Do what works for your family. Whatever you choose, be vigilant, but the answer to the question, "When should I give my child a smartphone?" is "Whenever you're ready for them to view pornography."

 For more info on how statistics support this fact (even with smartphone parental controls), and how science proves the neurological harm of pornography, see Fight the New Drug.

Some people have responded to this post  with the false assumption that restricting access to porn is our ONLY line or defense. Protection isn't a choice between restriction OR conversation, it's BOTH. We restrict their access to porn during a time of life where they have low impulse control, but we also have a lot of conversations about sex, lust, and pornography. Openness about sex is the most important way to protect your children. If you'd like books to help start the conversation, see my blog post about Christian books to read with your kids about sex.