Kids learn to program by solving a series of puzzle challenges, using a visual coding language. Instead of being intimidating, codeSpark Academy with The Foos - coding for kids makes learning how to program seem like playing a video game.
Set in the animated world of Foosville, where the character of the Glitch is wreaking havoc, the app offers scenes where players need to help the inhabitants to do something. In one puzzle, kids create a program so the policewoman can reach her favorite donut. In another, they must help a construction worker fill a chasm with rubber tires so that he can hop over them to reach his trusted hammer. Kids will play through numerous programming puzzles, set in different locations -- including the town, outer space, and a diner.
This coding app is free for schools and for consumers there is a free Hour of Code experience. If families want to continue on after the free hour, they need to purchase a subscription at $7.99/mo. Subscribers get new content monthly.
Using a Visual Programming Language
codeSpark Academy with The Foos - coding for kids uses its own unique coding language to teach kids about programming. Each action is depicted as an animated icon, making it easy for young kids to understand what each icon does. They can string the icons together to create a program to solve a puzzle. For example, Police Foo needs your child to create a program so that she can reach her beloved donut, which is sitting on top of a crate several steps to her right. Kids will combine the icon showing a character walking with the icon showing someone jumping to help the officer satisfy her hunger.
As kids play through the progressively harder puzzles, they earn new icons which teach concepts such as loops (repeating certain actions) and conditional "If" statements. Using the latter, young coders can program a cook to fill orders based on the visual thought bubbles of their customers. While in outer space, the programming language switches from animated icons to arrows so that kids can program an astronaut to move through the maze of space to rescue cute puppies.
Coding Your Kids Will Want to Play
codeSpark Academy with The Foos - coding for kids distinguishes itself from other coding apps because it is so much fun to play. Using an animated-icon programming language that is intuitive, this app oozes silliness and fun while delivering a solid set of coding puzzles. This video game world is filled with zany and adorable characters, including a ninja who can be programmed to grow or shrink in size while also flinging ninja stars. And when players succeed at helping an inhabitant, such as programming Police Foo to get to her prized donut, they are rewarded with an adorable dance celebrating your child's coding accomplishments.
While kids think that they are just having fun, this app challenges them to think logically, come up with sequences, and learn by trial and error as they experiment with this new coding language. Frequently, there are several ways to solve a puzzle. The app even has a separate sandbox mode where kids can try their hand at creating their own puzzles.
[Note: The Foos can also be played on some browsers and on a Mac via the Mac App Store]
codeSpark Academy with The Foos is our top choice for starting young kids down the path of becoming coders. The app's fun, whimsical environment creates a situation where all kids can succeed.
This codeSpark Academy with The Foos - coding for kids app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen. This review reflects an updating of the original September 23, 2015 review of The Foos to list the new app title, format, and pricing component.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.