Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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Codeable Crafts

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Animate stories with accessible drawing tools and coding blocks

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration

Subjects
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-3
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Pros: Easy-to-use tools make creating simple animations a snap.

Cons: A small set of tools means drawing and coding options might feel limited.

Bottom Line: Kids get a simple peek at computer programming principles by animating stories using code blocks.

Kids can use Codeable Crafts to create simple animated stories. Give kids a general theme (for example, what did you do over the summer break?) and let them use their imaginations to create stories on that theme. Talk about storytelling, such as following a story arc and introducing characters. Kids can work on their language and verbal skills as they narrate their story. Save the stories and show them to the class. For a tech or computer class, Codeable Crafts can be a starter app for introducing programming. Carefully explain and explore what each coding block does and give kids lots of room to experiment on their own. Teachers should know that this app includes two options for sharing content, both of which stand wide open for kids to access. One allows them to share drawings they've made; the other allows them to see drawings others have made. Drawings are shared randomly and anonymously, though there doesn't seem to be any oversight on making sure that drawings with identifying labels or inappropriate markings aren't shared. 

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Codeable Crafts is a clever reworking of introductory coding, combining simple crafting (coloring, stickers, cut-out shapes) with visual block-based coding to get kids making animations and telling stories. It begins with a brief tutorial overview showing kids how to decorate and animate charming animal templates. Then, kids choose from My Sketchbook or My Storybook to start creating. Kids color and affix stickers to the templates in the sketchbook, and choose finished creatures to star in animated stories in the storybook, choosing from a small set of basic coding blocks to create sound, movement, and text. They put the blocks together like puzzle pieces and tap "play" to watch the finished story.

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The best thing about Codeable Crafts is how easy it is to create a short simple animated story. Kids need only to drag simple, puzzle-shaped coding blocks together in different ways to experiment with programming concepts like movement, repetition, and more. They can also just have fun telling a story. Kids create their characters from a nice set of whimsical geometric animal templates.

Codeable Crafts gives young kids a good introduction to programming, but there are a few downsides. For example, drawing tools are super basic, limited only to a handful of colored crayons and random stickers. It's a bit frustrating that once kids save a character they can't return to the drawing board to edit. App navigation can also sometimes be frustrating as buttons are sometimes barely visible at the borders of the screen. And, either bugs or poor design sometimes get it the way of smooth gameplay. Yet, overall, this is an appealing and accessible tool for creating simple animated stories, or learning computer programming basics.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids can skim the surface or dig deep as they color, animate, and create their own animal characters and stories. Simple tools get kids engaged with little effort.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Drawing templates and coding blocks give kids a bit of structure from which experiment. The tools are a bit basic, so kids' creative freedom is somewhat limited.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A brief tutorial video demonstrates everything the app can do, sample stories provide inspiration, and labels explain most of what the coding blocks do. Editing saved creations would be a nice addition.


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