By Michelle Berkeley and Mary Ryerse

Apps are increasingly an integral part of our everyday lives. We depend on them for our simple to complex tasks. I bet we’ve all caught ourselves saying, “Isn’t there an app for that?” and “I’m sure there’s an app” are commonly exchanged phrases.

Many of us think of app developers as highly skilled technicians. But in our DIY world where information is increasingly easily accessible information, learning to code and develop an app is not so far out of reach. Courses, tutorials and how-to guides are available at our fingertips. The challenge — as in most learning spaces — is to make the instructional format understandable and enjoyable for a beginner while also providing opportunities for growth.

For young people interested in app development, Coding iPhone Apps for Kids by Gloria Winquist and Matt McCarthy may be a perfect starting point. The book, written for ages 10 and older, takes a ‘start simple’ approach by introducing the reader to coding and by providing instruction on how to code specifically in the Swift program.

Woven throughout the teaching of this simple coding language, the authors encourage the reader to recognize how learning to code can help hone valuable skills such as problem-solving, communication, and creativity. Sometimes called “soft skills,” no doubt these are things we need to develop in kids we can all admit to desiring to improve.

About the Book

Coding iPhone Apps for Kids is a practical solution for anyone who’s interested in learning coding terminology and theory and how to apply it by actually creating an app. In this book, the authors give readers a step-by-step explanation of how to use Apple’s Swift — a powerful, beginner-friendly programming language that anyone can use to make apps for the iPhone or iPad.

To practice, readers will need a Mac running OS X 10.11.5 or later and Xcode, and the iOS Software Development Kit, both free and available on the Mac App Store. The authors provide a guide for working in the Xcode playground, an interactive environment where the users can practice code and see instant results of their work. With clear and comprehensible explanations, the reader learns programming fundamentals – things like data arrays, conditional statements and organizational functions. By the end of the book, readers will have built time-saving programs and puzzles and made a real, playable game with graphics, sound effects, a high score system and speed settings.

Three Sections. The book is divided into three parts which focus on Xcode and Swift, Birthday-Tracking and Creating a Real Game.

 

Step-by-Step Instructions for When It’s Time to Create. After providing the reader with simplified definitions, a guide to the language and tools, the book breaks down the choices and adjustments that can be made to each step in the app development process. Through user-friendly language, the reader comes to understand both the logic and complexity of different decisions. For example, the figure and description below guide the reader through the screen orientation decision-making process.

A Mom’s Perspective

One of the things I love about the book is the context it provides around coding. While our ten-year-old and I have engaged in many different coding apps, games and processes, this one provides the overall context for how the pieces fit together.

Further, the specific activities and tasks to reach a larger goal (e.g. Birthday Tracker) are really clearly laid out and build upon each other. As you can see in the above section titles, the book guides learners through the process of designing, improving and using what you make, right down to creating user notifications!

As a mom, the book has been a great way to learn side-by-side with our sons. This took me several levels deeper than I had gone before and we enjoyed learning together!

Other book reviews speak to skill development and the applicability of the book across age ranges. Huffington Post called the book “invaluable” to developing a skill in kids that may take them places and Midwest Book Review found the book “so well constructed as a do-it-yourself  instructional guide that is unreservedly recommended for adults who would like to learn how to create iPhone apps of their own.”

For anyone with an interest in coding, an instructional, user-friendly book like this is a great — and very affordable — place to launch the skill of app development. The book is a do-it-yourself challenge to all learners — elementary age to lifelong-learning adults — to devote time and patience to relevant technical knowledge and skill development. It’s never too late  (or too early) to learn.

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