Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2015
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The Foos: Code for an Hour FREE girls and boys educational app

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Drag and drop visual code blocks, guide monsters through obstacles

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-4
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: Game-like style is well-designed and engaging.

Cons: In-app help isn't available to guide kids.

Bottom Line: With strong teaching support, a fun option for coding basics.

The Parents & Educators section includes lesson plans as well as a solutions guide that most students may need prompts from to complete all of the levels. The inspiration for The Foos is the hour of code, setting aside time to get all kids learning to code. It's designed for kids ages 5-8 but may be a bit too challenging for the younger end of the range and would still challenge players through the elementary grades. Teachers could offer The Foos as one of several options for coding time or use it to give kids another experience with visual code blocks.

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The Foos are fun little monsters navigating the city streets, encountering police officers and construction sites as well as obstacles like boxes and tires. Kids drag and drop commands -- represented by visual blocks of code from the Scratch programming language -- into the correct order to guide the monster to his destination. Kids must complete one level to advance to the next, and they receive one, two, or three stars based on how efficiently they use the commands. Levels can be replayed for a higher score. The free game includes several increasingly challenging drag-and-drop coding puzzles, but no instructions or help are available in-app.

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Kids won't actually see any of the language of programming or write actual code, but they'll drag and drop commands into place to control the game, giving them a picture of what's involved behind the scenes, so to speak, in the video games they play. Kids will definitely need support from a teacher to understand what they are doing and to help them past some of the challenges, at least explaining the objectives. Like other coding games, The Foos features monster characters that will appeal to boys and girls alike. Nicely, in this case, those characters work together and the game plays out with more of a story format. The levels get increasingly challenging, and the story gets more complex.

The only thing missing (in the app) is help and direction. Kids have to figure out what to do and how to do it on their own. A solutions guide is available through the parent section, and it's really essential, since some levels involve trickier solutions requiring multiple characters. Younger players may not figure that out on their own, so more scaffolding and support would make this app even better. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Story-based game with whimsical characters is fun, and the increasing challenge of each level will keep kids engaged.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Visual blocks of code make programming accessible for young kids. No feedback is offered, though, on how to improve solutions, and help is available only through the parent section.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Help is not available for kids in-app. Teachers will find a curriculum and solutions guide linked from the parent section.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Andy L. , Other
Other
Christa McAuliffe Elementary School
Hastings, MN
Game Under the Cloak of Coding

The Foos is a mixed bag for me. The upside is student engagement. The downside is the ease in which students can take a coding skill-building app and skip around practice to simply 'play.' I would prefer to see this app make the playing aspect of the game an earned experience - finish a round of coding practice, play a user-generated game level. By making the gaming side so easy and attractive, it feels like the app is pulling many of our kids away from the creation of game programming and locking them into game consuming - at which they are already very proficient.

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