New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2015
Can be used with printable and playable and accessible features of www.helloruby.com accessible using your Chromebook Google features
The author and publisher are pushing this as an early childhood family 21st century coding book but it truly is also extremely infusible into any k-3 literacy program enabling Stem and the ABC’s of programming to be infused by literacy educators. It is a great work to be happily explored by parents and children grades K-4 and beyond. It demystifies and authenticates coding basics as it contextualized them in vibrant and downloadable game boards and activities. A great beginning for starting school year relevant coding curricula with explicit links to storytelling, collaboration, problem solving and relevant life lessons.
Why I a literacy educator chose it: The cover with its fierce looking Ruby and computer icon dares the reader to accompany her on Adventures in Coding. Most literacy educators and family storytellers are ever so familiar with the key elements of the adventure quest. There is a hero and perhaps more than one hero plus a challenge. The hero makes a plan to overcome the challenges in order to complete a quest for a goal or treasure. Along the way the hero has to often come up with new strategies, overcome unexpected challenges and learn new skills or information. All of these literary and storytelling components are expertly tapped by programmer, illustrator and author Linda Liukas in service of engaging young learners, their families and this reviewer hopes early childhood educators with immediately engaging relevant to childhood interests game, searches, patterns, paper dolls, secret language experiences that make key programming and coding terms come real for young learners. The author believes “play is at the core of learning. . . and that the fundamentals of computational thinking include. . . break[ing] big problems into small ones, look[ing] for patterns, creat[ing] step by step plans” and being creative. That sounds like a tall STEM and programming order for a child age 4-8, but with the intrepid Ruby who befriends penguins, robots, foxes, snow leopard and Django with his pet python as part of her quest to find five gems, the adventure translates real life and genuine whimsical child adventures into real 21st century child owned activities that include constructing actual game boards, creating patterns, developing a programming keyboard, paper doll clothes and tools on the site that can used interactively and also viewing products of other peer young coders from around the world on the site. Using chromebooks or connected devices, children and educators can record narration and think aloud talk to track the problem solving and playtesting practices suggested in the book. They can also create their own graphic stories and save them as word docs or as picture files. One creative educator developed a screen script of the characters and filmed them having the adventures shared in the story. This video can go in the educator’s or student’s folder on the chromebook or connected devices as well.
What I like best about this standalone captivating storybook that makes key coding terms such as strings, numbers, booleons, and algorithms come alive or a stand-alone interactive early childhood or family use website with printable customized to child products- is that it uses the adventure plotting and the child heroes to translate complex coding terms into relatable aspects from the everyday lives of children and the adults who care for them or teach them. Using the chromebooks or connected devices teachers and students or parents can generate plot charts and maps to detail or to personalize the games and plotlines of Ruby’s adventure, making it a class or family one with appropriate age and community modifications. This craft use of the coding genre work can be saved in student picture documents. After the story of Ruby’s adventure to identify the sources of various gems, the second part of this accessible to ESL and visual learners book includes activities that dip into the everyday lives of young readers and also authenticate abstract coding glossary STEM vocabulary. For example, the young audience for this story of peer adventurers in coding, can using chromebooks or connected devices: sequence everyday home, pay or school activities, decompose a drawing or picture created or chosen by audience, can print out Ruby paper dolls from the site in appropriate dress for a special event using pattern recognition, can string print and design a personal keyboard using the site or draw one, can draw a map of the route from home to school or to a favorite place using algorithms and sequence, or best of all for many in the audience use data structures to create a secret code language.
Beyond the activities the plot and the optimistic “I can do it” characters of Ruby and Django emphasizes resilience in terms of finding and trying multiple plans or constructs to overcome obstacles that prevent them from immediately attaining their goals. Ruby knows that solving big problems like finding gems requires mapping carefully reading instructions and breaking down big problems into tiny problems stuck together. Plan making is a part of Ruby’s and Django’s approach to life and Django eagerly helps Ruby when her first plan does not work. Ruby realizes that learning the penguins’ language working with them will help her find her gems. Ruby knows how to loop a ladder by building one step and going over it five times. Ruby learns how to give clear if, then and else instructions to the foxes so they can get their planting done. Of course, beyond these aptitudes and coding language for success competencies, these coding precepts can also serve as literacy and life lessons for success in a variety of relationship, community, family and collaboration successes. What better philosophy to start the new school year?
How this work can be used: The beautifully illustrated maps and games grounded in Ruby and Django’s adventures can be copied from the book with the accessible early childhood traditional materials clearly listed. The Hints icons on the activity pages invite the child audience and their family, teachers and other stakeholders to find the coding realities of their own lives, home environments, and schools. Algorithms, functions and abstractions about baking, coloring, dress, music, climbing ladder- suddenly translate into child centered reality. The work is laid out in chapters with engaging and recognizable child friendly characters embodying the glossary words formally for the teacher, parent or other stakeholder in the back of the print work. Unlike many children centered informational books that teach coding on an appropriate level but using precise templates, both the book and the web resource encourage the audience to use blank templates and develop their own game boards or models that reflect thinking of even the box of this very open project.
Since coding is a key literacy 21st century language, teaching it should not only the province of educators explicitly trained in coding or STEM for early childhood, nor should parents and storytellers be excluded from integrating this language and its coding for life success lessons of resiliency , problem solving and collaboration into their rich interaction with learners. All early childhood learners and literacy learning adults can join Ruby and Django in these ongoing adventures to infuse coding for life lessons into their flowering multi-content learning. Let the chromebook passport adventures in coding begin the school year!!
Dr. Rose Reissman,
Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on http://www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and http://www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at http://www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.