KEEP the coding going year round:About the Author Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.
Learning how to code is fun, especially when playing the new app by codeSpark, The Foos – Code for an Hour FREE girls and boys educational app. codeSpark has generously offered this app for free! It has won numerous awards and was picked by Apple as a top educational app. It is intended for kids 6-8 years old, but the spark will also be ignited by kids that are much older. Younger ones will enjoy playing with an adult or an older student or sibling. The Foos are silly little characters that have plenty of attitudes. The main characters are the police woman – who is forever after the “Glitch,” a builder, a chef, and a Ninja, and have a Nintendo vibe to them that immediately engages kids. They were created to help introduce students to the elements of computer programming through the means of game play where you learn to control the character’s actions through coding. In this free version, there are three levels of play. Each level is increasingly more challenging, and by completing the mini challenges within a level, new commands and parameters are unlocked. Each level also has a “playground” in which to experiment with using the coding tools. In the first level, you learn basic commands of moving your character – running, jumping, and beginning looping or repeating commands. After placing your sequence of movements in the command box, hitting GO unleashes a run. Through trial and error, kids learn to recognize obstacles, and how best to work with them through anticipation, sequencing, and using the parameters of commands. Parameters may show directions, such as up, down, left or right. Hint: Timing is a big factor when putting your sequence to the test, and it is hard to stand back and allow kids to learn from their errors. But as we all know, sometimes making mistakes, helps us learn to persevere and try new strategies. The second level has the increased demand of how to add dimension using your builder, and interacting with another character for a common goal of catching that “Glitch.” You can’t help but love the playfulness of naming the villain the “Glitch.” Here a simple stick of dynamite can blow away any or all obstacles, and you gotta try it out. Stars are awarded for efficiency and economy of commands. The third level is very challenging. Here you are controlling a Ninja, where you alter her dimensions and meet up against immovable obstacles. It takes a little experimentation…but after finding one of the parameters is altering her size…you are ready to go! Slicing the wooden boxes is a whole lot of fun. I will leave it to you to find out about the qualities of the metal boxes. The game does not take a lot of time to complete, and so it is a successful experience. It is also motivating to keep coming back to earn that three-star rating! The Foos has a wonderful teacher’s guide, complete with curriculum, and after finishing, kids can download a certificate. I cannot recommend this highly enough, as it not only introduces STEM concepts but is a load of fun.