Product Review of Codeable Crafts
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 or a picture they’ve taken, and select finished creatures to star in animated stories in the storybook. Then they choose 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. If the device supports sharing, kids can send via email or Airdrop.
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, perhaps even doing some offscreen practice with pretend blocks and people following the coding directions! Also, give kids lots of room to experiment on their own.
The best thing about Codeable Crafts is how easy it is to create a short, simple, animated story with the characters they create. Kids design their characters from a nice set of whimsical geometric animal templates. It’s also great fun to create new characters by taking photos of any object kids to find around them. The drawing tools make it easy for kids to erase the photo’s background and decorate the new object with colors and stickers.
Codeable Crafts also 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 be frustrating, as buttons are sometimes barely visible at the borders of the screen. There’s also very little built-in explanation of what the coding blocks do. Tapping on each block brings up a text box label, but considering the target age range, not all users are reading yet. For the most part, kids must rely on experimentation and learn by trial and error which is great for some kids but might frustrate others. Finally, kids with visual impairments will have a hard time without a screen reader. Yet overall, this is an appealing and accessible tool for creating simple animated stories or learning computer programming basics.
Overall User Consensus About the App
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.
Curriculum and Instruction
Drawing templates and coding blocks give kids a bit of structure from which to experiment. The tools are a bit basic, and there’s some trial and error required.
A brief tutorial video demonstrates everything the app can do, sample stories provide inspiration, and labels explain most of what the coding blocks do, but there’s little in-app help.