Don’t PLAY Vacuous Video Games … MAKE and BREAK the CODE with Learn to!


Well, like most modern families, my kids… errherrhem… and husband …. are into the “screen.”  My husband can actually play a game on his phone while watching the news.  I just want a blanket and a book.  As homeschoolers, I have strict limits on the “tube.”  NO TV Monday to Friday at all.  If studying Hiroshima and WWII, as my eldest was last week, we can watch the free Discovery Streaming of the bombing of Hiromshima.  Otherwise.. nada.  Friday nights we do watch a classic for Family Movie Night, though.  We watched the musical of “Oliver!” this week.  It’s like Broadway in my house.  And I noticed that the kids are secretly playing a game about the musical.  They had a GREAT deal to say about the differences between the book, BBC adaptation, and the musical.  LB:  “It was just not very realistic for the Industrial Revolution London. Dickens is making a statement!”  Me:  “Yes, yes.  I know,  but I love “Fiddler on the Roof,” and surely some liberties were taken with the Russian programs in that musical!”  “We don’t expect the Minions or any of the Marvel superheroes to keep 100% to their historical script.  And how old are you, again?”  LB:  “13 1/2.”  Me:  “Yep.  The head is starting to spin (see past post).”

SO:  I was asked to review (read, “Yippeee!  They like me… they really like me!) a new mod book connected with a well-known mod program.

Hubby came in last night:  “What did you order from Amazon?”  Ummm… “Nothing.”  Lookie here!  It’s a free book to review!  Let’s just say, he wasn’t so righteous after that!  Humph!


Learn to Mod is a very-well know program that teaches kids to mod using block and Java BOTH.  They learn to code, but not just copy code… they learn to figure out how the game was actually coded and work backwards!  WOW!  Also, they are not PLAYING Minecraft!  They are building and coding Minecraft!  WOW!  Just Google TJ.Ed or TedEx re: the 20 million surplus jobs by 2020 in the US versus the millions of graduates coming out of expensive schools and moving home unable to obtain jobs as teachers… nurses.

My house is abuzz with coding.  The history of codes and ciphers.  How musical compositions are code.  Coding and decoding using Navajo in WWII.  My grandparents as coders during WWII.  Uh oh!  Will the M5 or CIA get me for that?  It was in England?  Who knew that all of THAT was connected to computer coding?  OK.  Perhaps I am a Marshmallow head lately.

Regardless, here are my first thoughts and the TRUE clincher… my kids (7 to 13 1/2) created code behind a game.  They created their own game rather than playing one vacuously staring at the screen of a XBOX.  They created CODE to run the game.  At no point did my kids GO NEAR an XBOX to play the game today.  In fact, the more successful kids were the one’s who had NEVER played it.  They coded along with tutorials.  The decoded looking at the game platform and deducing HOW what happens was coded!  WOW!  Forward and backward logical thought.  

  (Click here for an Amazon affiliate link)
Last initial thoughts:  The book is small and not a “dummies” book at all.  It is highly colorful and my 8 year old was reading it and following along between book and computer all day.  With a green highlighter!  More engaged than he is during math!  It says a great deal about child-directed learning, I will tell you!
They simply created the game themselves and learned how it worked.  Kind of like taking apart the toaster in the 1980’s.
Your kids do that kind of thing, too, right?  It was really cool!

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