Teacher Review for Code Monster from Crunchzilla

Fun Introduction to Javascript for Kids

Lisa S.
Classroom teacher
Kentucky Country Day School
Louisville, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Creation
Further application
Knowledge gain
Small group
Student-driven work
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
How I Use It
Code Monster is a interactive coding tutorial that teaches kids the fundamentals of programming in Javascript.

It starts off with three lines of code on the left side of the screen and a console on the right displaying two black squares. Students are prompted to change parameters in the program and watch what happens.

After completing each prompt, students click on Code Monster for the next challenge. It will sometimes show them new code and point out what it does and sometimes ask students to change something in the code to create different effects.

Students can use the back button at any time look at the previous coding challenges. There is also a "Lesson Sections" link on the bottom of the page that they can use to jump to a particular section.

The challenges move from simple to complex and involve problem-solving and iterative thinking along the way. Rather than telling kids what to type, Code Monster explains how a concept (like changing colors) works and ask students to figure out how to apply it in a new way.

There are built in quizzes along the way, so students can review what they know. Eventually students are asked to type in code from scratch. Code Monster gives helpful tips if they have an error.

Code Monster has 59 lessons starting with "Drawing and Parameters" and ending with "Springs and Physics" in animation. The site saves the lesson on which students are currently working, so they can return at any time as long as they are using the same browser and machine. This would work fine in 1:1 or home computing environments, but would be problematic in a lab environment. The program also allows students to skip and move through the lessons freely, which prevents them from getting stuck on any lesson.
My Take
I incorporate coding activities several times a year and Code Monster is another great option for teaching programming. For students who have used Scratch or other visual programming platforms and are ready to trying direct coding, this site is fun and engaging. It would be perfect as an option for students participating in the Hour of Code. Again the lack of a dedicated save feature is problematic, making the site most useful in a 1:1 setting. Being that students can jump to any lesson, it may not be much of an issue. The app also doesn't run well on mobile devices, such as iPads, so using a laptop or desktop device is needed.

Code Monster is short on explanations and is different from other platforms that introduce kids to coding with lots of tutorials. Their FAQ states that much of the vocabulary and syntax can be learned in other places. The site aims to provide a simple environment for students to practice coding where they can see cause and effect immediately.

Students who progress through all the lessons can move on to Crunchzilla's other site, Code Maven, which tackles more complex programming