My boy has had the most vivid imagination for as long as I can remember. Every day always brings a new adventure. He loves to pretend he is someone else. When he was 2 he was Mozart for 3 days and wouldn’t answer you unless you referred to him as Wolfgang. I recall during 3 year old pre school his concern that his teachers kept calling him Ethan when he was in fact John Lennon reincarnated.
Since the age of 4, a character of his that has stuck is Strong Boy. Most of the time Strong Boy is a regular boy named Ethan (of course) who enjoys spending time at the skate park. However, if there is a need to free the city of evil robots and monsters, Strong Boy always comes to the rescue. This character is so real to Ethan that he will tell what he wears, what his interests are and so much more.
I found all the detail so fascinating. So I commissioned an amazing comic artist, Jared George, located in the US to create a custom comic for him. It turned out to be so much more than I ever imagined and one of the greatest gifts I have been able to give to Ethan (I think the images speak for themselves).
Jared took Strong Boy even further and introduced new characters. I really appreciated the way he incorporated Ethan’s interests and personal traits. I couldn’t have wished for a better collaborative experience. The first time Ethan saw a sketch of Strong Boy, he said “That’s me. That’s me!”
As well as having the printed copy of Strong Boy to own, Ethan was lucky enough to receive the original artwork too! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Jared should you think your child (or your own inner child) would like a custom comic or sketch too.
If you are in the Springfield, Missouri area feel free to visit Jared on the 17th of May at the release of his own project, The Adventures of Zee. You will also see the US edition of Strong Boy released too!
I wanted to mention something else in this post as it kind of relates to the first part. Now, does anyone else have a child obsessed with Minecraft? Ethan would spend hours playing it if we would let him. We have needed to be quite firm in order to keep his computer time under control. If he is not on he computer playing Minecraft, he is trying to secretly access on other devices his You Tube hero Stampylongnose. After watching the You Tube videos Ethan began to bug me about teaching him how to make a Minecraft Mod. What?!! I had absolutely no idea of how to begin to do this. I researched a little and it turns out that to make a Minecraft Mod, you actually need to know how to write or at least modify Java code. I did want to help him, but computer code is totally out of my league. This was until I came across Youth Digital’s Mod Design 1 – Kids Ages 8-14 Learn to Code in Java with Minecraft ® (PC & Mac). They provide online computer courses for kids! I signed Ethan up for Mod Design 1 straight away.
I was a little unsure at first as Ethan is only 5 and the classes are geared towards kids 8 – 14 years, but my worries quickly disappeared. The lessons are SO engaging and funny. Justin, the Mod Design instructor is hilarious. Ethan always has the biggest smile on his face (as do I) when watching the videos. Ethan does not see the course as a series of lessons. He asks to “play” Youth Digital. If your child is able to read and knows their way around the computer a little they should have no trouble following along. With him being so young I sit with him to make sure he is not messing up the code or give him some help with spelling, but he does 90% of the lessons himself. The lessons are extremely well thought out and there are opportunities to earn points from quizzes which reinforce the information taught. There is a points store. Kids love points stores! Points can be spent on gaining extra special codes to make your mod even more awesome.
One of Ethan’s favourite parts is the Trouble Mods. Trouble Mods are Youth Digital’s ingenious way of teaching kids how to fix code errors. My 5 year old fixes Java code errors and enjoys it! Once the errors are fixed your child can access the Trouble Mod where they enter a Minecraft world, complete set tasks and find a secret code. How cool is that?!
Ethan’s mod is The Strong Boy mod of course. He has designed and created his very own custom swords, pick axe, items, food, armour, creature, biomes, blocks and more. He is almost on the home stretch which is very exciting. Along the way besides the coding, he has also learned some great basic computer knowledge. Ethan is a bit of a keyboard shortcuts master now. I am learning lots too.
The customer service is amazing. Any time help is needed, the Youth Digital team is there, either through live help or if there is no one available, just send a note and a response comes super quick. Anyway, I could go on for ages about how good Youth Digital is so you should just go and check out their courses for yourselves. Ethan has just started App design 1. It is blowing his mind that he will actually make an app that he can share with family and friends. He is also incredibly excited about the animation course coming out it June. He already thinks he is going to work for Pixar or DreamWorks.
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