Following on from the previous post in the ‘Alternatives to Scratch’ series I thought I would share Code Combat, this is another great resource which has quickly become a favourite at my school. Code Combat is different to previous alternatives that I have shared as it focuses more on Syntax or Character based programming rather than using a familiar Block based format, that said, both you and your children will be comfortable in no time.
With my class and my Code Club I chose to use Python as we have number of Raspberry Pis and we are aiming to progress onto Python. I would recommend this for primary pupils for a few reasons:
- Devices such as Raspberry Pi, Microbits and Arduino have python as an option
- It is one of the programming languages used by professional coders
- Our local secondary schools cover python in Computing.
Similar to Rapid Router, Code Combat has decided to go along a step by step prescriptive route. As I have said previously this could be beneficial in a number of ways:
- Teachers that feel unconfident or are unfamiliar with Syntax based Programming.
- Code Club – promoting a differentiation by outcome philosophy
- Independent Learning – sometimes it’s good for the children to teach themselves, break it or get it wrong then go back a step and fix it.
- Homework from Code Club, or Digital Leaders
- Promoting a love of Coding – for those who just love it and don’t want to leave coding at school.
I tried this out with my Code Club, which is made of 9-11 year olds and they loved it! When users are getting started they can choose their character, each of them has they own strengths weaknesses and back story. I thought a nice quick link to this could be top trumps which is fantastic for teaching databases and data entry. Just a quick warning that some characters require a subscription but there are options to continue for free.
Users work through the game and win gems and experience points, when levels are completed they get experience points and gems; they also get points for less errors in their coding. They can use these points in a store before moving onto the next level and equip their player with extra features. That’s the basics of the game covered, as with other coding software there are strings, variables, loops, conditional and while statements but these are explained and demonstrated when players start the level.
There are some great features on the Code Combat website such as teacher guide and ‘cheat sheets’ complete with answers. There are also progress guides for children and guides for using python.
To summarise, I have explained previously why I am should a big advocate for a rich digital diet. Coding on different software has the advantage of understanding the concept rather than following steps from memory. I see Code Combat as a progressive step rather than a different one, using Syntax based software adds a new challenge for pupils.
Also, I love the take that Code Combat have chosen where levels build on each other in a role play game. This is similar to Code Club but the difference of completing levels, gaining experience points and moving around a digital world adds a more engaging element.
Have you tried using Alternatives to Scratch? What works for you? Please reach out by commenting below!