We think Craig Richardson’s brilliant. His Python Programming for Raspberry Pi book (available as a free download) remains one of the very best tools for stealthily teaching rigorous and useful computing concepts and programming tricks to kids that we’ve seen. Kids love Craig’s resources (we’ve found it hard to make them stop working and pack up to go home when we’ve run Craig’s bag of tricks in workshops); and whether you’re a teacher, a parent or an interested learner of any age, you’ll find something in there to get your teeth into.
Craig’s Minecraft resources will be available to buy in print later in the year (we know a lot of you prefer to have textbooks and other reference material available as a dead-tree book). Speaking of dead trees, Craig’s preferred method of teaching times tables is to get kids fighting Minecraft trees. It goes down about 1000% better than number squares.
Not prepared to stop at one giant tome of Minecraft goodness, Craig is working on new materials all the time: his latest batch is a set of recipe cards for workshops or the classroom, which we used at the first Picademy for teachers.
Minecraft: Pi Edition has huge potential for engaging people with programming. The Minecraft game is hugely popular with children and adults alike, as it allows enormous creativity. Combining it with Python programming on the Raspberry Pi opens up an even greater level of creative freedom, and is a massive incentive for learning to program.
Following on from the first draft of my Python Programming with Minecraft Pi book, I developed a set of recipe cards.
The recipe cards provide short example Python programs that interact with Minecraft Pi. They are designed to be accessible for complete beginners. Each recipe card teaches the basics of a programming concept, such as variables or loops, and includes detailed explanations of how the code works.
When using the recipe cards to teach programming in workshops I’ve found that it is essential to leave scope for creativity. Having the opportunity to play and incorporate their own ideas into their programs is hugely beneficial for adults and children. It is more engaging than just copying code and helps develop a deeper understanding when they’re learning to program.
Creative freedom is one of the reasons that Minecraft is so popular, which is why it complements learning to program perfectly.
He’s right, too.
Several of you asked for a downloadable version of these cards when you saw the photographs from Picademy, so Craig has made them available on his website. Thanks so much Craig – we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next!