Craft Computer Club: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you tell us a bit about the Craft Computer Club?

The Craft Computer Club teaches children from age 5 upwards the fundamentals of computing and programming. It combines a fun book with additional online help and materials for parents. It contains simple to follow illustrated guides to the modern Computer, mobiles and tablets, the Internet and of course coding. It’s basically a fun book for kids with a ton of online support for mums and dads that might not know where to start with it all!

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You’re a software engineer why are you using glue and string to teach kids coding?

Writing an app would have been really easy. The problem was more for me as a parent, I don’t know about you but there’s plenty of things my kids love on the screen and I wanted to make something that we could do together, round the table. And I also wanted to pass on my computing experience as it’s generally really helpful for problem solving – whether you want to write code or not.

I sat down at my kitchen table to work out how to do that and I realised it was covered with craft materials – paper, glue, string, glitter, crayons etc. It seemed obvious then to use the tools my children use all the time, ones that they’re confident with and ones that don’t need a computer or tablet.

So can they actually learn to code without a computer?

Absolutely. Just to back that up, in the long distant past when I was studying for my a-levels and degree, computers were quite rare in the classroom, so we always designed programs on paper first. This lets the kids have fun and lets me develop activities that help with something called Computational Thinking which is helpful to develop ways to solve problems. This is useful for children in lots of subjects, not just programming, but especially the STEM subjects.

Can children from age 5 really learn this stuff?

Definitely and it’s evidenced by a pilot I did last year. The foundation of the project was a 6 week Computer Club I did as a STEM ambassador at Mynedd Cynffig Infant School in Bridgend. I taught a group of 20 six year old girls how computers are made, what the main parts inside do, the difference between files and programs, how programs work (we wrote one together) and how computers can only use numbers to draw pictures on screen. We finished with a trip to see the Raspberry Pi being made at Sony Pencoed.

How did you know what material to focus on?
Including my own Computer Science degree and nearly 20 years development experience I also spent a few years researching the work of people like Seymour Papert who invented Logo the first child friendly programming language.

Also the National Curriculum in England made Computing compulsory from age 5 this year and I really liked their goals so I used their KS1&2 outline as guide (ages 5-11). I was particularly impressed they wanted children to know what an Algorithm was at age 5!It sounds scary and you might question its appropriateness but when you realise that algorithms are now responsible for much of your online life I’m all for it.Algorithms are just a precise set of instructions to a specific job, normally incorporated into programs. For example, algorithms decide what results you see when you search Google, what Netflix recommends you watch, what products Amazon display when you visit their site.
Is it expensive and where can I get this for my children?

 

Actually costs less than a new video game! It was important that we make it available to as many people as we can so we’re running a Kickstarter and if we reach our goal you can get a copy of the book and a years worth of online help and support for £15!

You can see it in action on the video too and we’d love you back it and join our club.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inpractice/craft-computer-club-a-crafty-way-to-inspire-little

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