Code Monster from Crunchzilla

Common Sense Media says

Fun programming lessons from a friendly monster guide.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids may find themselves feeling empowered as they can immediately see the effects of the programing they write. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No personal information is required to use the site, and its privacy policy specifically states that there is no personal data collected. Progress is saved from visit to visit. However, as written in the privacy policy, this isn't done through cookies but through something specific to your computer, meaning no data about your site visits is stored anywhere other than your own computer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Code Monster from Crunchzilla is a very simple computer-programming tutorial that uses live JavaScript. It's intended to teach both kids and adults about the basic (and more complicated) things you can create using code. Lessons start simple and get increasingly complex, so kids of various ages can learn at their own levels. Kids can exit Code Monster and start again where they left off when they're ready to come back, if they use the same computer (though Code Monster doesn't use cookies to store information about previous visits). It's not all about coding, though! As they figure out how to write code to make things happen, kids play around with concepts in math (such as geometry and fractals) and physics (such as velocity and acceleration).

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • patterns
  • sequences

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

There are no bells or whistles here, but kids who are interested in programming, and even those who aren't, should enjoy these hands-on lessons. However, once they've finished all the lessons, there's not a big incentive for them to return.

Learning Approach

Kids learn by doing. With code on the left and visual output on the right, they can immediately see the impact of their actions. More detailed explanation could help kids who are just beginning or having trouble.

Support

There's little support for those who don't find the short, simple instructions enough, although there is a brief How to Play section. It would also be nice if kids could save, and even share, their creations. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • patterns
  • sequences

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Kids can learn how to code using Javascript, creating and changing simple properties (like varying the shape, size, color of boxes) to more complex programming (design intricate trees and fern branches and animated sequences). The lessons introduce things like coding vocabulary, variables, operators, lines and loops, functions, rotation, and arrays. Kids can also learn a bit about mathematical concepts (fractals, geometry) and physics (velocity, acceleration). Even though presentation and instruction are very simple, the hands-on, cause-and-effect approach can be an effective intro to coding for kids.

This Learning Rating review was written by Mieke VanderBorght

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Kids say

What's it about?

CODE MONSTER BY CRUNCHZILLA is a website that shows kids how to code using JavaScript. It has a very simple design: the googly-eyed blue Code Monster and his speech bubble are at the top of the screen where kids read straightforward explanations, commands, and questions. Below are two boxes: on the right, Code Monster provides a piece of code for kids to manipulate; on the left, you see the output from the code. Fifty-nine lessons progress from simple (make a square) to complex (change its shape, color, and position and make more shapes), to really complex (make complicated fern leaf patterns and animated sequences). There also are "quizzes" in which Code Monster asks kids to write their own code. Though lessons progress in order, you can go back and repeat or choose lessons at will. You also can exit the program and return where you left off if you use the same computer (and if no one else has visited Code Monster in the meantime).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Code Monster is simple but mostly effective as a self-led journey of programing discovery. The hands-on manipulation and immediate feedback can give kids satisfaction and joy in discovering how what they're writing changes what they're seeing. It should also help them understand how the different pieces of code work. This can be a fun exercise, even for kids who wouldn't normally be excited about computer programming.

Yet Code Monster teaches almost exclusively through example rather than explanation, and there's little to no help for kids having trouble. When kids can't come up with the right code (such as in a quiz), Code Monster moves on ahead (which may discourage kids from trying to get through a tough coding challenge). More hints or code analysis could help kids who can't figure out where they're going wrong. An option allowing kids to save what they've created also would be a nice addition.

Families can talk about...

  • Discuss and explore the many things computer programmers have been able to create with this kind of code.

  • Talk to your kids about careers that use coding, from video game design to engineering. 

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Code Monster from Crunchzilla was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old April 12, 2014
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Fun

What other families should know
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