★★★ Open House ★★★
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CodeSpark Academy With The Foos
© 2014 CodeSpark

CTR Review
Rating: 96%
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 5-8
For grades K, 1, 2, 3
$7.99/month, iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle, Mac OSX, Internet Site
Teaches: coding, math, creativity
Tagged for: Coding, STEM, Maker, Summer Learning, Android, Holiday, KAPi
8/29/2017 Update May 2017 CodeSpark Academy is free to schools, and sold by subscription to homes for $7.99/month. Up to three children can share the subscription.

Update May 2015: 18 new levels have been added, along with two new characters with pets (Astronaut with space puppies and Chef with pig). There are two new worlds to explore - Space and Restaurant, and five new commands and two new events (inlcuding IF statements). New activities let you help Astronaut Foo collect her lost space puppies and help Chef Foo cook up delicious food for his friends.

Easy to learn, and full of playful characters, this early programming for iPad mixes an Angry Birds type of leveling system with Scratch-style programming icons. In order to move your "Foo" character across the screen to a star, you must drag and drop the correct sequence of commands in the right order. Everything happens in realtime, so it's easy to experiment. There's also a handy stick of dynamite -- just in case.

There are 5 Foo characters (Chef, Cop, Builder, Doctor and Ninja) and two sandbox areas. Each character has unique abilities and structured levels designed to introduce a concept.

You jump into the first 8 levels, during which you earn your first "event." The interactions between the characters can get silly which keeps things interesting. This is one of the key strengths of this app. In terms of actual coding, it's very limited. You get just four lines of code, which are tied to four events per player, for example. Also you can't adjust the sounds.

When you finish the levels, you can print a certificate that says you've finished your "hour of code", found at by way of an external link. CodeSpark is an IdeaLab company, an incubator started by Bill Gross (the guy who started Knowledge Adventure). We're not sure how this game makes money. We suspect that this is just one level, and future levels will be available as in app purchases. It also isn't clear if this is a not-for-profit (per the .org). See also Lightbot Jr., ScratchJr., Hopscotch and Tynker for similar types of experiences for iPad.
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