Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
codespiration. stories and activities to get kids coding project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound
£761 pledged of £17,500 goal
backers
By codespiration
£761 pledged of £17,500 goal
backers

About this project

We think young kids benefit by being exposed to the basic concepts of coding, especially if it’s fun and involves more than just time in front of a screen.

The IF statement
The IF statement

That’s why we’ve started codespiration – a fun & fully illustrated storybook, a workbook, and a parent’s guide that will get kids learning about coding without them even realizing it. 

<WHAT'S INCLUDED?>

Storybook

Doing things in the right order (algorithms and all that...)
Doing things in the right order (algorithms and all that...)

Jonny’s having a bad day. Things happen in the wrong order, and he doesn’t seem able to get anything right. The buffaloes get mad, the tigers start to cry, and the monkeys are shocked. And let’s not mention the skunk... The storybook is 32 pages of full color illustrations in which kids will enjoy reading about Jonny, Joy and Jackie and their attempts to sort out the mess at the zoo. And although they won’t realize it, your kids will be introduced to major coding concepts and associated coding vocabulary along the way. These concepts and vocabulary are carried over into the… 

Workbook 

A fun workbook with loads of activities and puzzles
A fun workbook with loads of activities and puzzles

A cool workbook filled with fun puzzles and activities that start to get the kids thinking like a coder. It contains over 50 activities directly related to what happens in the storybook – all aimed at getting your kids solving problems, thinking logically, and having fun. In every unit there are problem solving exercises, physical activities (get ready to be guided around the room as a robot, Mom), games the whole family can play, and art and craft activities such as cut-outs and coloring. 

Coding book/Parent's guide

A step-by-step guide to real coding
A step-by-step guide to real coding

A complete, step-by-step guide to the world of coding, this book will get your kid writing actual code if you want them to (if you don’t want them coding at this stage – no worries - the storybook and workbook standalone). We’ll walk you through every single step, explaining what to do and what everything means, all written from the perspective of someone who has never coded before. Kids will go from understanding simple four or five line programs that display shapes and text, through to writing full-blown apps. In each unit, there are optional ‘level-up’ projects, activities that use fun (and free) online resources such as Scratch, and suggestions for further learning. And don’t worry about your kid doing too much typing, the code is downloadable from the… 

Website

A fun website with loads of resources
A fun website with loads of resources

Everything from downloadable graphics, backgrounds, and sounds that kids can use in their programs, through to the code for each activity in the coding book, the website is the perfect companion to help make coding more fun and fulfilling. 

<WHY BOOKS AND ACTIVITIES RATHER THAN ONLINE?>

We are parents of elementary school children ourselves, and the last thing we want is our kids glued to the screen. We want them to spend just the right amount of time in front of a computer and no more. 

<OK, BUT AREN'T THERE ALREADY CODING BOOKS FOR KIDS?>

Sure, and many of them are great. A quick search on amazon will give you an idea of what's available. 

We take a different approach, however. As parents of young kids ourselves, we’re pretty sure the kids don’t want to read pages and pages of text with complex explanations and daunting tasks. If they really get into computers, that can all come later. So our books use a fun, easy to follow story as the basis for learning high level coding concepts and some basic coding functions. 

We want kids to laugh at a storybook, do physical activities, solve some cool problems, and then code their own simple programs. Not read a 100 word description about the difference between a CPU and a GPU. 

<LET'S GET A LITTLE BIT TECHIE ABOUT WHAT KIDS WILL LEARN>

First, they’ll learn some ‘soft skills’; problem solving, logical thinking, avoiding repetition, and breaking problems down into small bite-size chunks for instance. These are all inherent in learning to code. 

But they’ll learn actual coding, too. Not block coding like in many online resources. Real, actual, code. 

We are using a programming framework called LiveCode. Why? Because it’s about the closest programming language to actual English as you’ll get. No long lines of incomprehensible symbols in LiveCode – just plain ol’ English gets the job done. 

Secondly, LiveCode is real-time, which means your kid can instantly see what they’ve just done actually working. We don’t need to tell you how important instant feedback is for kids. 

LiveCode is completely free, works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, and is used all over the world to build everything from ticket reservation systems for global airlines to controlling USGS satellites to building top-selling apps for Android and iOS. You can check out LiveCode on their website

codespiration for kids covers (but all in ‘kids-speak’ of course): 

  • Constants and Variables (there are always 30 chairs in the classroom, but the number of children who turn up to school can change every day) 
  • Instructions and order (you can’t put your pants on before your underwear and still look cool. That includes you, Superman) 
  • Syntax (how can the postie deliver the letter if he can’t read the address?) 
  • Conditionals (IF something is true, THEN do this, ELSE do that) 
  • Loops (FOR 10 seconds sing a song, WHILE dad is singing cover your ears and run away) 
  • Boolean and math operators (true/false, >, <, =, etc.) 
  • Errors/Debugging (working out what’s gone wrong) 
  • Basic coding vocabulary (AND, OR, NOT, GO, ASK, ANSWER, PUT etc.) 

And by the end, if you and your kid get really into it, you’ll have made your own app that you could even publish on iTunes or the Android App store (ps. we don’t guarantee any downloads). 

<WHO WE ARE>

Junho, Mike, & Steve
Junho, Mike, & Steve

We’re a bunch of dads who want our own kids to produce cool things on computers and mobile devices, not to just consume games and media. (We’ve also got a bit of plan for the future, see the section ‘what’s the end goal’ a bit further down the page.) 

Luckily, we think we’ve got the bases covered for what we’re doing. 

  • The writer: Steve has written numerous illustrated picture books and educational text books (published by real publishing houses). In his free time he loves to tinker around with LiveCode. 
  • The coder: Junho is a software architect at Cisco Systems. Java, C++, Azure, Python, Node.js… if there’s a programming language he doesn’t know we’re yet to find it. He’s coded everything from whole architecture telecom platforms to Content Management Systems to iOS/Android apps for his church. 
  • The teacher: Mike is an English teacher who knows all things educational. While he’s not inspiring kids in the classroom, he’s building education related apps using Swift. 

We’ve teamed up with Francesca, a supremely talented and experienced children’s book illustrator. She’s actually not into code at all. But we don’t care. Her pics are just great. 

Loops...
Loops...

Beta testing, quality control, artistic input and fun rating have all been carried out by our very own kids and their friends aged between five and nine (the most demanding of testers, we can assure you). 

<WHERE WE'RE AT, AND THE TIMELINE TO DELIVERY>

We’re not far off. We’ve spent a year putting this all together so far. Luckily, we’ve had a ball doing it. We’ve got a shortlist of commercial printing companies experienced in full color illustrated children’s books, a shortlist of packaging suppliers, and a shortlist of global logistics solutions. 

So here’s what’s next if we get funded: 

  • Funded date + 6 weeks: It will take six weeks for Francesca to complete the line work and coloring of the remaining illustrations. During this time, the workbook and parent’s guide will be professionally edited, designed and put into print-ready PDF format. We’ll sign the contract with the printing company and the logistics company, and buy the packaging. 
  • Funded date + 8 weeks: We need some time here for the book designer to layout the storybook illustrations into a print-ready PDF to the specifications required by the printing company 
  • Funded date + 11 weeks: A three week window for the printing company to schedule the print run. Everything quality checked, and ready for packaging and posting. eBook buyers get delivery during this period, and we’ll also double check delivery addresses for physical book buyers at this time. We’ll put the website live. 
  • Funded date + 12 weeks: Everything with the logistics company. Depending on your location, the books could be with you within a week, but please allow for a couple of weeks delivery time for most locations. 

<OUR PROMISE>

We’re parents of young kids ourselves. We know what it would mean if this were ordered as a present that didn’t materialize in time. We won’t let that happen. So here are our promises. 

  • We’re not going to enter into deals, agreements, or contracts with anyone other than our printer and the logistics company. No agents, publishing houses or the like that could knock out our timeline or throw askew what we’re doing. It is, and will be, our responsibility to get you your books on time 
  • Nothing will change from what we’ve described on this page. You will get an illustrated storybook, a work book, a parent’s guide, and access to the website, all just as we’ve stated. 
  • We’ll provide a weekly update to all our backers that gives actual, factual information on progress. We’ll share the whole process with you. As a taster, why not head over to our ‘predate’  that gives an overview of the road traveled so far. 
  •  We’ll respond to all messages within two working days. 

<WHAT'S THE END GOAL?>

Actually, we’re in the process of setting up a not-for-profit organization that inspires kids in disadvantaged situations to code. 

Our funding goal covers getting these books to you based on the costs we incur at the minimum print run size of 1000 for each of the three books (includes printing and finishing, illustrations, design and layout, professional proofreading and editing, packaging, worldwide delivery). If we manage to print more than 1000 book sets due to your help, and if we sell the odd eBook or two, we’ll start to make a small margin per book. This excess will be used to help make the codespiration for kids not-for-profit organization a reality. If you’d like to know a bit more about our plan we’d love you to take a peek

<SHOULD MY KID REALLY LEARN TO CODE?>

Most kids won’t grow up to be programmers or computer scientists or coding hobbyists. But we don’t think that’s the point. Learning code will open doors and help them to be in control of their future whatever they end up doing. And in the meantime maybe they could use a computer to do their homework, or build an app, or help their community. Wouldn’t that be cool? These people seem to agree. 

>_If {yourKid == knows code} then {yourKid == control, understanding, opportunities}; 

There are many reasons to expose kids to code. From learning problem solving and logical thinking skills, to increasing their future employability, to raising awareness that it’s coders who make Kickstarter and Facebook and Minecraft and the special effects in their favorite movies. 

And without a doubt, today's kids will grow up surrounded by ever more complex technology and the code that drives it. Our dream is to make sure that kids can understand enough about code to relate to, and perhaps even control, the technology that will be an integral part of their lives. And sure, if some kids who start out learning code end up building the next Twitter or the next NASA rocket engine control system or the next data privacy software or the next big thing in health monitoring apps, that’s great. But if they become construction workers or fashion designers or stay-at-home parents, that’s great too. At least they’ll be comfortable with the technology around them. 

<A BIT MORE INFO>

Can you really teach coding to early schoolers? 
Yes, yes you can. In countries such as the UK and Estonia, coding is now a mandatory core subject in elementary schools right alongside math and language. 

It’s all about how things are explained. For instance, Wikipedia defines a Variable as: 

In computer programming, a variable or scalar is a storage location paired with an associated symbolic name (an identifier), which contains some known or unknown quantity of information referred to as a value.

Good grief. Let’s put it in kids-speak:

If you want to keep your toys safe, put them in a Toy Box. And when you want to know how many toys you’ve got, go to the Toy Box and find out!

At a young age, kids don’t need to even know the word ‘variable’. But if they can grasp the concept that you can store something in a special place, and then go back and get it later, they’ll be well on their way to coding. 

Do I need to know programming to help my kid? 
Nope. Not at all. Zippo knowledge required. We’ll walk you through everything you’ll need to know from installing LiveCode on your computer to a step-by-step of writing some code. Read the parent’s guide beforehand, look like an expert to your kid ten minutes later as you explain that by changing this word to this the character will do a triple somersault and fly of the screen just before the explosion, instead of getting fried. Cool. 

What computer do I need?
You don’t need a whizzy computer to run LiveCode, in fact you just need 256Mb of memory and 150Mb of disk space, and it runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux. See LiveCode’s specification page for more details.

What is the age range, what reading ability does my kid need?
The story book is suitable for approx ages 5/6 to 9/10 according to the Fry Readability Formula. Of course, we’d love you to read the books with your kid even if he/she can handle the vocabulary. We think it just works better that way. 

The storybook is standalone in its own right, so even if you never touch the exercises or coding activities, you still get a fun story for your kids. 

The parent’s guide is aimed at, well…parents, and although it explains everything in very simple terms, it is not meant for the kids. 

What about the books themselves – quality and all that
The storybook is standard 8.5 x 8.5 with full-page color illustrations on every page, and will be printed on 150gsm quality paper, with 310gsm covers, with matte coating. The workbook and coding book will be printed using either Bond or 100gsm paper with 200gsm covers. We're talking with the printers about the best solution. 

What’s the limited edition artwork?
We’ve commissioned Francesca, our illustrator, to create a one-off piece of art based on the storybook. There will only be 100 printed, ever. The prints will be numbered (1/100, 2/100 etc), and will look great on your kid’s bedroom wall.

Risks and challenges

We’re producing three physical books, so there are potential printing risks. However, we’ll be using an experienced printing firm that prints gazillions of books each year. We’ll be monitoring quality like a hawk during printing, rest assured.

We’re not charging for delivery anywhere in the world. When shipping a package overseas there are obvious potential pitfalls. However, we’ve a shortlist of global logistics companies who you can probably name off the top of your head that will handle everything right to your door.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £6 or more About $9

    e-book pack
    Storybook, exercise and coding books in your choice of pdf, epub or mobi digital format, plus website access. DRM free!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £16 or more About $24

    The physical book pack – early bird offer before June 15th
    The real in-your-hands storybook, exercise book & coding book, plus website access. Delivered free anywhere in the world!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £21 or more About $32

    The physical book pack
    As per the previous reward, but for pledges received after 15th June

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £130 or more About $199

    School / kindergarten pack
    8 physical book packs sent to a school or kindergarten in your name. Plus website access for the school

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £160 or more About $245

    The physical book + limited addition signed artwork
    As per the physical book pack, plus a limited edition signed illustration print. First backer gets print 1/100, second gets 2/100 etc.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)