Become a Code Master in a Weekend
Coding and programming has come so far since I took my first Basic class back in high school. At that time I was happy to write a subroutine that had the computer ‘speak’ back to me with a “Hello”. Code lines were numbered and recalling them for the proper “Goto” command required pen and paper by your side. Today, a good portion of programming software is WYSIWYG and as simple as drag-and-drop. My daughter competed in the FIRST LEGO League competition last year and her team placed first in the state for their score in the robot challenge.
If you’ve ever seen the software behind the robots, you know it is designed for young minds and features the ability to drag-and-drop commands onto a timeline. Then through trial and error they can get their robots to perform a task (or tasks), hopefully in the allotted amount of time. LEGO does a good job of introducing young boys and girls to programming through their MindStorms line of toys, but the price is not cost-effective for most families. In fact, most kids must hope their schools invest in these items and offer them during after-school programs. Sadly, the majority just don’t have the budget.
Last year we highlighted a game that attempted to introduce programming to young kids by requiring critical thinking to move their turtles through a series of objectives. Targeted at children ages 4-7, Robot Turtles was a highly-successful Kickstarter campaign that exploited a lack of STEM-related toys for this age range. Over 13,000 copies were sold during the campaign, with it hitting mass-market retail shelves by Christmas. It even made our “10 Games Under $29” gift guide last year, and is expected to still be in great demand this holiday season.
What about older kids? Specifically in the pre-teen category? ThinkFun has a new solution for them as well! Just this year they introduced Code Master, and it has already become an afternoon challenge for our girls as well as a certain ‘adult’ in our family. Why is it so engaging? Because although designed to teach pre-teens programming basics, it is more than difficult enough to challenge an adult – even on the medium level! Let’s take a look.
Your goal in Code Master is to figure out a way to get your Minecraft-styled miner to the escape portal while picking up a pre-determined number of crystals. On each page you are given a number of scenarios each with different difficulty levels. A beginner might just need to escape the mine in four moves, while the advanced level might require multiple passes through the mine, picking up gems and checking a yes/no question before you escape.
Every level has an associated “scroll” kept in a separate spiral-bound book that is your key to that challenge. It tells you how many commands are required and whether or not you’ll need to program a subroutine to complete it. The shapes on the scroll coordinate with like-shaped tokens that tell you to move on either a green, red or blue path, or perform a query to determine whether to proceed in the routine or repeat it. Those vary from checking the number of jewels you are currently holding to whether a purple or orange troll is blocking your path.
Take a moment to watch the video at the top of this page and you’ll get a feel for what I’m trying to describe. But I want to talk about value for a moment. We have all purchased a video game for our kids that gets a couple plays then collects dust. That’s usually $60 for a couple hours worth of entertainment. Code Master retails at only $19.99 exclusively at Target, and I can assure you will get many many hours of enjoyment out of the 60 included puzzles! Looking at the price-to-playtime, Code Master is a value you cannot pass up. Plus, you’ll rest well knowing your children are actually learning a skill that will apply to many facets of their life. Something shooting an alien in a video game (hopefully) won’t.
As I mentioned, Code Master is a Target-exclusive product from ThinkFun. If you have kids aged 8-12 to buy a Christmas gift for, you will not be disappointed by picking up a copy. We’d still recommend Robot Turtles for younger children, but with Code Master you might even find yourself playing a few rounds before you wrap it! This is one gem you cannot afford not to pick up.
And thanks to the generosity of our friends at ThinkFun, we are able to give away a copy to one lucky SahmReviews reader! Enter using the form below and be sure to come back tomorrow for additional entry opportunities. Good luck!
29 thoughts on “Become a Code Master in a Weekend”
I have been looking at this game for my Minecraft loving 7 yo daughter. She also enjoys Lightbot and coding games so this seems like the perfect blend for her. Thanks for the contest!
Thanks for the fun giveaway! As always Scott, great job.
This looks awesome & definitely have placed it on my wish list. Thanks for contest.
This looks awesome!
Thanks for the opportunity!
Children’s learn very quickly, and once you plant the seed they keep forward searching for tools to improve their knowledge, and learning to code helps to solve not only IT problems, but day to day issues they may fight with, this is awesome and thank you alot for the opportunity!
the best advantage is built in tech support.
This looks really interesting.
Thanks for the contest!
This looks like a great to play with young kids. Thanks for the great contest!
the learn the information faster
Just about every job there is will require some level of coding in the near future – from office assistants who need to make simple macros in spreadsheets to repairmen who need to program their scanner tools.
Im a pretty big fan of games like this!
I definitely think teaching kids to code is a great idea! It is a wonderful way to learn attention to detail along with understanding the process of how things work.
I think learning to code would help kids understand computers and how they work better. It would also come in handy at work.
This is an awesome product! Start them out young!
My boys would love this! Thanks for the contest!
This looks awesome!
Interesting! It looks a little too complicated for me LOL But I’m sure there are other brainiacs like y’all who would LOVE it!
Back when there weren’t even any computers–learning code–nope–Luckily I was able to figure out how to use computers and any program they threw at me–but coding–I am very glad they are starting kids on this young now for it will be their world!
I can totally see this being a favorite of my son. I’d love to get it (win it or buy it). 🙂 Thanks for the intro.
I have no idea about coding, but I would love to learn! It’s a really great idea to teach kids to code through games. Have to check out the Code Master for my niece!
Coding is an important skill to have these days. Kids need to know as much as they can about technology to be able to compete professionally in the future.
This is really interesting. I look forward to learning more about this.