NEWS$show=/search/label/news

Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

REVIEWS$show=/search/label/review

Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

PROJECTS$show=/search/label/project

Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

STEM$show=/search/label/stem

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

CODING$show=/search/label/coding

Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

ELECTRONICS$show=/search/label/electronics

We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

ROBOTICS$show=/search/label/robotics

We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Minecraft Modding in Tynker Review



Tynker have release Minecraft modding courses that allow kids to create mods and deploy them on a Tynker Minecraft server. Mods are customizations and extensions to Minecraft that change the way it looks and behaves. Kids who love Minecraft will know what this means!

My kids, aged 7 and 9, tried it out. They are definitely Minecraft fanatics and watch videos where they have learned about modding. We install mods written by other people and my older son has tried a few things for creating mods. They love the idea of creating their own mods.

How it Works

Tynker have created a block-based editor that allows kids to create Minecraft mods. The editor will feel familiar to kids who have tried any of Tynker's other courses. 

There are step-by-step tutorials for doing things like making a trail of flowers when you walk or creating flaming arrows. Once kids have the idea they can create their own mods using the editor. 

When kids have made a mod they can deploy it to their Tynker Minecraft server. This gets linked to their Minecraft account (they must have a desktop Minecraft license) and then they can connect to the server to play. 

There's a free version which limits server time to 60 minutes. With a paid Tynker subscription kids get 480 minutes of server time per month, more Minecraft course material and access to Tynkers other (non-Minecraft) coding courses. 

Access to the coding tools isn't time-limited. It's just the server time to test them and use them. 

Kids can even invite others to join their server. 

First Experiences

There's a bit of account setup to get started but this is straightforward. The kids were quickly up and running. 

My 7 year old tried the Path of Petals mod tutorial which is one of the easier ones and was very pleased to get it working. Then he found the skins and resources editor. He has loved creating custom items, blocks and mobs. He hasn't needed any input at all. He loves it. The skins are a bit different as they need to be uploaded to your Minecraft profile (which will have an effect beyond Tynker.) 

My 9 year old worked through the mod tutorials. The main problem he had was that many of the blocks in the tutorials and editor are just too small to read. For the tutorial he just dragged them onto the canvas where they become bigger. For creating custom mods the tiny text made it difficult to work out what's available and impossible for me to help when looking over his shoulder. Hopefully this will get fixed in future.

The 9 year old enjoyed the process but was put off when he realised that he can't get the mods out of Tynker to use in his own worlds. He has already started using MCreator and he does a lot with commands and Command Blocks in Minecraft, this means he's less willing to put up with the limitations of Tynker than he might have been if he had used Tynker Minecraft first. 

The 7 year old returned to Minecraft Tynker the next morning to continue working on his custom resources. He's definitely impressed. He's nearly 8, the recommended age for the first Minecraft Tynker course. 

More Kids at Coder Dojo

We also had a Coder Dojo meetup at the weekend and we have lots of kids who are Minecraft fans. We introduced some more children to Tynker Minecraft and it went down really well. The kids already understood all the Minecraft concepts so they got the idea quickly. 

Not all parents want to be installing and managing mods and mod creation tools. Tynker's tool was just what they needed to help their kids take Minecraft to the next level without a lot of work on their part. 

We had families going away saying their child would continue at home. 

Verdict

The Tynker Minecraft modding courses are great for kids who are just getting started with the idea of resources packs and modding. It's a really accessible way to be able to create very cool stuff without having to install mods or complex tools on your computer. 

Personally I think there's a lot to be said for exploring what can be done with 'Vanilla' Minecraft using redstone, commands and Command Blocks. A lot of neat stuff can be done without needing mods. But it can be really hard for kids to get started with that stuff. 

The block language is pretty powerful and allows kids to build some complex behaviours in Minecraft. The modding tutorials take kids through examples to build their skills and then they can work on their own ideas. 

There's also a planned Minecraft Game Design course which looks fantastic. My kids are always watching videos of their favourite YouTubers playing mini games and would love to be able to create them. 

The subscription plan of 8 hours a month isn't a lot of time for a Minecraft-crazy child or tween. But this is just the server time. Kids who are working on a complex mod will spend a lot of time coding which doesn't count towards the server time. I think you would just need to come up with a plan for how kids use the time so that they don't use it all too quickly and then lose interest because they can't carry on. Kids also get access to all the other Tynker courses so it would be a shame not to take advantage of those too. 

Tynker Minecraft looks great for kids who want to customize Minecraft but don't know where to get started. And also as a way to encourage Minecraft-crazy kids to learn to code. Making cool stuff happen in Minecraft is a major motivation. 



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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Minecraft Modding in Tynker Review
Minecraft Modding in Tynker Review
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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