Skip to main content


When I started my blog in 2008 I learned how to write one line of code so that I could add links to my reviews and have them open in a new window. Since then, I have been warily fascinated by computer programming and, being a parent, I have been also keeping an eye the growing number of ways in which writing code is a vital part of our economy. In 2013, in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, code.orgthe Hour of Code was launched. is a non-profit founded by Hadi and Ali Partovi that is dedicated to "expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color." Their vision is that "every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science" and that it should be a part of the core curriculum. While computer programming is now considered a "foundational field," in 2013, as Partovi noted, is was not being taught in 90% of American schools. The goal of the Partovis and Hour of Code, which has received widespread support from programmers and entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, along with President Obama, as well as massive crowdfunding support, is to get people to write short snippets of code. What I love most about is the work they are doing in schools, with students, like most of mine, who might otherwise never even know what writing code is or what it looks like. Learn more about this great organization here. 
. uses a kind of "Sneaky Chef" approach by using the visual programming language, Blocky, and partnering with cultural icons like Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Frozen, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars. This year, through a partnership with Microsoft, Hour of Code features a Minecraft course! While I have watched my sons play it, I have never tried Minecraft, but doing my Hour of Code with Steve was really fun! By 2014, over 40 million students had takes the Hour of Code class. This year, over 191,000 Hour of Code events will be hosted worldwide.

Last year, I had a handful kids in the library coding and this year, I hope to have at least 30 kids a day starting and finishing an Hour of Code class, which you can try out here. We will even be having volunteers from our local Hewlett Packard fanning out all over the San Diego county volunteering in schools to help kids learn to code!

In honor of Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week I will be reviewing books on the subject! I hope you'll read my reviews and then try Hour of Code, or other coding sites like Scratch and Tynker! Fueled by my passion for creating a Makerspace in my school library, I have purchased a few programming-related toys to try out on my 11-year-old then purchase for the library with a lovely grant I recently won. For reviews of these toys, check back here in January!


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…