Learning Python using Codecademy and Minecraft Pi

I met Craig Richardson at Newcastle Maker Faire and we got to talking about teaching using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. For a while I’d harboured a plan to write some proper teaching resources for it and had scribbled a few notes but hadn’t had time to develop it. Craig had had the same idea – yes, it was just like Darwin and Wallace – and we decided to get our heads together. Shortly afterwards Craig sent me what he had been working on. And here it is. It’s so good that I haven’t got anything glib to say. It’s a magnum opus.

Craig’s book is one of best teaching and learning resources that I’ve ever seen for any subject. It follows the Python lessons in Codecademy (one of the best online learning resources out there) and then reinforces these skills using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. It’s contemporary and it’s challenging and it’s fun. It’s got a 225 page student book with exercises plus separate teachers’ notes. It provides differentiation and it references the new Computing curriculum. It’s learning by stealth :)

If you are a teacher and are teaching Python in September: please go and get this, your students will thank you. (Would you rather teach loops by printing a times table or by fighting trees?)

Everyone else who would like to learn or improve their Python: please go and get this, it’s not just a classroom resource so don’t be put off.  If you don’t want to work your way through it from the start just cherry pick what you find interesting – it’s an excellent reference and I’ve used it as such in workshops, to great effect.

A treasure detector based on an exercise in Craig’s book. The LED flashes faster as you get nearer to the treasure.

The book isn’t quite finished and Craig says:

Right now the book is incomplete, especially in the later chapters. The vast majority of content is there, some bits are missing, and a lot of it needs polishing. I am just about to start teacher training and won’t be able to dedicate any time to the book for the next few months. … I do plan to finish the book, I’m just not sure when I will have the time. If you are interested in helping to further develop these resources please get in touch.

When it is done it will surely be an essential resource for learning Python on the Raspberry Pi, so if you’d like to help then please contact Craig. Oh — and there’s lots of other good Pi-related stuff on his blog too.


The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

Woah, that looks very good, just downloaded it!

I will be reading it cover to cover over the next week… Are there any plans for paperbacks? I would gladly pay £10+ for a book like yours!

The Raspberry Pi Guy

The Pi Hut avatar

I too would like to see a physical copy

clive avatar

It’s Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA 3.0) so people could get their own printed or even print a load out e.g. for classroom use. As long as you don’t sell them it’s all good.

For example, this would cost c. £6 to get printed at somewhere like lulu.com for a single copy (other online printers are available ;))

The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

Ah… I will look into that

The Raspberry Pi Guy

Craig Richardson avatar

A print edition is very tempting. If you want to print your own copy feel free to, however I’d recommend waiting a few months as I’ll have a better idea of when the book will be finished.

Steve avatar

This is nice but assumes some experience with development tools. (“assumes you know how to install the Raspbian operating system”) Is there a more basic Python/Pi learning guide for n00bs?

liz avatar

If you have NOOBS, you’ll be able to install the Raspbian operating system even if you’ve never touched a computer in your life before. (Hence the name.)

winkleink avatar

This is brilliant.
I met a kid last week (son of a friend) who was very excited by Python, but especially Minecraft and I was trying to find a way to link to the 2 in a structured way for him. This is ideal.

dodgy_coder avatar

Thanks for this, sounds like it will be great for kids who are into gaming but haven’t made the leap into programming. Second the call for a paperback version if there isn’t one already.

David avatar

Teaching loops by fighting trees is a very good example of Raspberry Pinecraft…

liz avatar


CleoQc avatar

WOW. What a fantastic ressource. I have a daughter here who will go beserk about this!

Jim Manley avatar

This looks like a great start and I (and mostly my students – heh-heh-heh!) want to help contribute to fleshing it out (and debugging at least the mistakes in our fleshiness ;) ). However, there isn’t any contact info or a website where we can get the files in either this post, or the student or teacher editions. I would suggest setting up a wiki with the text of the book there which makes crowd-sourcing simple and the resulting text can be (a)periodically moved into the LaTex form for dissemination in PDF or whatever. We can do the wiki conversion if someone can provide a site where we can dump the content of this first draft, or we can create one (but then it won’t be associated with the same place from which the PDF should be downloaded, requiring yet-another external link).

We’re not from the government and we really are here to help! :D

Craig Richardson avatar

My contact details are on the about page of my blog. In terms of helping out I think that providing feedback on the exercises and documentation is the most valuable contribution anyone can make at the moment.

I need to look into how I will make the source available. I’m leaning towards GitHub at the moment.

Francois Ste-Marie avatar

Please, someone tell me that the Codecadmy typo on the logo will be fixed before printing… the typo is so obvious that it came out of my screen to hit me in the face :-) Otherwise, it looks cool

clive avatar

It will be, it’s “only” a draft! Thanks for the spot.

Rich avatar

I’m so glad someone else spotted that. I did a double take and thought, “Are my eyes going funny?”

Stephen Blythe avatar

I can never spell codecademy (that took some effort!).

I can obviously spell ‘code’, and ‘academy’, and I get what they did with removing the ‘a’, but whenever I try to type it my fingers rebel and want to put that missing ‘a’ in place of the final ‘e’ so I end up with codecadamy!

liz avatar

Glad it’s not just me! Absolutely does my nut, that missing A.

Stephen avatar

Had a look at the contents pages and it looks like an interesting book.
Huge congrats on your effort.

Um, is the cover page subtitle “Codecadmy” a spelling error or a ‘style’ I’m ignorant about? Sorry, had to mention it cos it’s educational, init?

Stephen avatar

Note to self – too slow!

Julian avatar

Great work here. I’ve been looking to brush up on my Python. I’ll definitely try out this book.

One thing I suggest to the author is to add colorful minecraft screenshots illustrating what the code should do to make it more attractive to younger people.

Tobias Huebner avatar

This is awesome! Seeing people like you spending so much time and effort in creating a free learning resource for pupils all over the world is very inspiring. I`d be glad if I could help developing this great tutorial you`ve made. Screenshots, as Julian mentioned, would be a great start.

Robin Newman avatar

This is great stuff. As a former Head of IT I wish it had been available (and the Pi) before I retired! Just what is needed.
A few years ago I used scratch with pupils and they taught themselves so much just by developing games on that platform. But this should reach the next level.

bradley avatar

Forgive me if I’m missing something blindingly obvious but I’m only reading this on a phone and I’ve only had a quick “flick” thru them…

both the student’s and the teacher’s book say part 2 on the title page. Is there a part 1?

Craig Richardson avatar

Well spotted. There is a Part 1, but it is very far from completion. The Minecraft book is entirely self-contained so there’s no need to read Part 1 beforehand.

Jon Macey avatar

I actually demonstrated this today in a lecture with visitors from Wuhan vocational College of Software and Engineering China. They were very impressed and I think some of them are going to have a go, as we have given them some pi’s as gifts. The notes are very good (I only saw them last night and decided to demonstrate in todays lecture). Thanks for all the hard work.

clive avatar

Thanks for your hard work Jon — that’s fantastic! :)


Jon Macey avatar

Were doing loads of STEM events at Bournemouth University soon and I will be showing this as part of a coding challenge were setting, I will post more info once it’s all sorted. I think this will really make people want to code and it’s a great resource for teachers.

clive avatar

Keep us updated, sounds interesting.

Jim Darby avatar

I was just wondering if there had been any developments on this in recent months. It’s my neice’s birthday in a week’s time and I’km planning to give her a copy with her new Pi.

clive avatar

Hi Jim — we’re working on it with Craig but it’s going to be a couple of months I reckon. In the meantime it’s still a brilliant resources to cherry pick from and to learn Python with.

hofmann avatar

komme nicht weiter beim laden fragt er mich nach login .ich weiss nicht was ich da machen soll

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