Craft Computer Club: a crafty way to inspire little coders
Craft Computer Club: a crafty way to inspire little coders
Craft Computer Club teaches kids to code with fun craft activities and great online help for parents and teachers
Craft Computer Club teaches kids to code with fun craft activities and great online help for parents and teachers Read more
About this project
I Want To Give Your Kids Coding Superpowers!
My name is Dan Bridge and I wanted a way for young children learn the basics of computing that combined their love for creative play so I designed the Craft Computer for them.
Why it's important
Computer literacy is one of the key skills our children need to equip them for the 21st Century but so is creativity and the act of craft. Problem solving, computing and creativity go hand in hand and learning this way helps to encourage and value diversity in our skills.
What is the Craft Computer?
It's a series of papercraft exercises that start with building a computer! Children are naturally creative and experimental with everyday materials like card, scissors, glue, string.
Using fun craft activities they’re introduced to the fundamental principles behind computing such as the important parts inside and what they do, how the Internet works and of course programming.
Does it work?
Better than I imagined and now I really need your help to make the materials available to more children.
Both boys and girls loved it and before long I was creating more activities and help guides for an all girls' computing club I ran at a local school, workshops at GameCity and sending makeshift kits to teachers all over the world.
What you get
A Fun Book!
You will receive a copy of the Craft Computer book which will include a complete illustrated guide to the modern computer, the fundamentals of programming and hours of computer-themed craft projects designed for children 5-11.
The book will also feature picture guides and fun games that teach the basics of computational thinking and explore how computers are used in the world around us: from controlling traffic lights and supermarkets to Raspberry Pi, the Internet of Things, how games like Angry Birds work and of course safety and security issues.
You will also receive a year's membership to our online community. Want to know what the CPU does and watch a video of how to explain it to a child? We’ll have guides to help you out. Want to show off your new creation? Pop in and share it!
We'll pack it with children’s coding guides and video tutorials to supplement the book along with news and competitions. It'll be like having your own computer tutor online. Videos will be aimed at ages 5+ and include:
- How computers, phones and tablets work
- Algorithms, programming and debugging
- Internet, search, safety and security
- Logic, sequences variables & how it can help other subjects like maths
I also want to look at the computing your children will encounter in schools. So the online club will be filled with helpful introductions and guides to languages like Scratch, Kodu, Python and HTML5 and devices like tablets, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Makey Makey etc
There will be interactive games too for your children to test out their new coding skills, like this one - click here to play a few levels http://www.inpractice.org/microtowns/ada
Recording Your Children's Achievements
We'll use Mozilla’s Open Badges to provide achievements for all your children's activities. They are like scouts/guides badges except your children will be earning them for knowing about networks, Internet safety and algorithms.
These are real badges that tell everyone what they've learned and they can show them anywhere; online and even at school.
What People Are Saying:
"These resources are ideal for young children when they are at their most creative. It is the most perfect way to help them develop their computational thinking processes and prepare them for a future that has technology in every aspect of their lives. Brilliant stuff! When can we have more?"
- Stuart Ball, Partners in Learning UK Programme Manager, Microsoft
"There's been a huge amount of talk about making coding accessible, but I don't think there's been anything quite like Craft Computer Club for injecting those ideas with material joy. We welcomed the Craft Computers along to the GameCity festival in 2013, where they instantly became one of the most popular elements. It's a beautiful mix - code and craft; putting the complexity, fun and ideas of computing directly into people's hands. "
- Iain Simons, Director of GameCity.org
"Before building the Craft Computers I don't think the children had ever really considered what might be inside a computer and they were especially excited to compare their Craft Computers to the insides of our real ones and to be able to recognise and identify the key components!
Teachers and staff across the whole school are now keen to build their own Craft Computers. Building the Craft Computers also ties in nicely with 3d shapes and nets in maths."
- Nicola Schofield, ICT technician. Merton Park Primary School, London, U.K.
"Dan has developed a series of fun and interactive activities that enables the youngest of children to understand what makes a computer work and inspires them to learn more about computer technology. The programme of learning Dan has developed is well thought out and perfect for young children, taking them on a journey of discovery through the language and art of computers. It was great to see all the children who took part, talking confidently and excitedly afterwards about what they'd learned."
Emma Richards, Project Development Manager, Chwarae Teg.
"Dan is a clear professional in his field and a pleasure to work with, his computer-coding projects for children inspire and excite even the youngest of pupils and it has been wonderful to see the development of computer literacy in primary school pupils since working with Dan. Evidence supports the real value to engaging all children at a very young age in working with and enjoying the language and art of computers, particularly girls many of whom are not choosing to pursue computer studies later on in their academic life"
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator, Chwarae Teg.
Anne-Marie Imafidon's (@aimafidon) Women Shift Digital talk featuring our girls craft computing club.
Since my Computer Science degree in 1996 I’ve worked as a software developer and managed product development teams both in the UK and America (San Francisco). I’ve got a lot of startup experience which will be essential to make sure this project is delivered. For the past ten years I’ve run a small educational consultancy called inpractice.org which develops tools for Universities.
I’m also a STEM Ambassador and volunteer my time in schools to talk about Computing and Technology. As I’ve a daughter I know first hand how important it is for girls to have early, positive experiences with STEM and the Craft Computer was designed with them in mind using England’s new KS1 and KS2 Computing curriculum as a guide.
Risks and challenges
I’ve prototyped and tested the material with great results and now need to present it in a way that your children and you will love.
To do that, I’ll work with an amazing design and print team that I’ve worked with many times. They're in the same city as me and are a team that can deliver under tight deadlines and make it look incredible.
As a software developer with nearly 20 years experience, much of it in start-ups, building online products, the online part of the club has little risk to the project - and certainly won't have an impact upon the book.
The only slight risk is international shipping, it’s a thorny problem for physical products, I’ve researched and factored the costs as best I can so that the worst outcome is probably a minor delay for worldwide shipping - but I am committed 100% to this project to make sure as much as I can that doesn't happen. In that scenario, I’ll make sure you guys have digital copies (choice of pdf,epub,etc) as soon as they’re ready.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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.
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.
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.
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).
What format will the book be arranged in? Specifically, will it have lessons or is it more of a group of craft projects for computer science?
This was a questions sent in by a backer - it's a great question so I wanted to share it
The answer is both.
I've arranged the material as activities in that progress as lessons through a Computer Science curriculum - I've been using England's computing curriculum as a guide from ages 5-11 but I also include some hardware elements such as how a computer is made and works as these are good foundations
Thanks for backing!
Really like your craft computer club & would like to sponsor my school, but nervous about "1yr membership" — what afterwards?
The idea would be to renew for another year (same price) - 1 year seemed a nice period of time to divide it up really.
The main part for me was that I didn't want anyone to have to over-commit in case they didn’t want to.
I hope we're around for a long time to come!
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