Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2017 Website
Ages: 9 - 16 yrs.
Publisher: CodeMonkey

The CodeMonkey website offers series of programming challenges in which players help a monkey get to bananas in increasingly difficult circumstances. The site teaches Coffee Script, an object-oriented language that is a simplified JavaScript; rather than work in the block-style programming environment of many children's web sites, kids are challenged to learn real syntax and to find and correct mistakes. The graphics are bright and the sound effects are generally entertaining and stimulating.

The 200 progressive lessons cover variables, arrays, functions, conditionals, loops, and keyboard and mouse interaction. Students who need extra practice or who enjoy working through the challenges can take on any of another 200 exercises. For programmers who take up CodeMonkey having already learned to program in a block-code environment, the early levels will seem sluggishly remedial, and even the advanced levels can become repetitive; older students in particular might do better to pursue a true JavaScript course.

Students and parents will appreciate the game's sense of humor. The monkey has to scare a rat away from the bananas by saying, "Boo!" but must later befriend the rat. The monkey enlists the help of turtles (who can cross the rivers and lakes) and goats (who can break ice and will eat the green bananas, but not the rotten ones), but has to learn to chase off hippos that block the way.

For multi-user family and school accounts, there is a teacher account which provides lesson plans, solutions, and progress reports by student. The family accounts come at a high fee for a year of access, so parents should have children try out the first thirty levels (available for free) to see if the site is a good fit.

Emily Crawford   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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