Our world is changing and our kids will likely need basics of coding and logic to professionally thrive in their future. As a professional, I’m experiencing first-hand the lack of software developers, and I know the situation will only grow worse in the job market. I’m convinced I can start fostering some skills already in my toddlers. No, I didn’t lose it and I am not trying to get my four year old girl into open source coding. However, I can teach her some basics of logic and problem-solving, in a creative and playful way. We have several products and games to allow this, but today I want to focus on a recent discovery we tested, that is the app The Foos developed by Code Spark.
Why I like it as a parent
I’m very selective when it comes to this kind of products. My kids’ screen time is extremely limited and tablet time even more. This is why I want to maximise its value. In addition, I’m a coder and a teacher, so definitely a picky consumer.
I was very glad to find out that Code Spark advisors include experts on computer science and education. In addition to several education prizes, the app The Foos received the Kokoa Standard certification, which makes it conform to the strict Finnish education standards (did you know Finland has one of the best education systems in the world?). Last but not least, the game is fully language-free, which allows also toddlers or children with any language background to play it.
How the app works
The game has several sections which aim to strengthen a particular aspect of basics of coding, for instance building and testing sequences of instructions, recognising different types of objects, or structuring loops. There are several levels which get increasingly difficult. The player is graded with one to three stars when she completes a level. Achieving levels also makes the player earn some virtual coins and trophies which can be spent in a in-app shop. As far as I could find, there’s no way to make “real money” purchases inside the app (if you want to be on the safe side, in the Ipad you can enable restrictions in Settings > General > Restrictions).
The interface is very intuitive and my four year old never got stuck on something. If the player doesn’t react for few seconds, a helping icon appears to guide them on how to proceed. Basic levels don’t last long, so that focus is not lost, especially in young children.
There are a couple of sections, mostly for older children, where kids can design levels and share them with the community. My toddler could play them, but not design them yet. However, I think it’s nice that there will be something new for her to play in the future.
Overall, I strongly recommend this app. It’s great fun, with a learning value. The monthly fee pricing model feels like a guarantee that new features will be constantly released and that the product will evolve in time. As a software developer, I appreciate how the creators broke down the coding frame of mind into smaller concepts, then adapted them to make them accessible and appealing to children. The user interface is really smart, well-designed, and more important the app is safe to use.
Get it now!
You can download The Foos from the App Store or from Google Play. You can even play a lite version online. After a seven day trial, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription of $7.99. You also have the chance to buy use for longer periods for a discounted price, also as a gift to others. You can register up to three children within one subscription. The target age of users is 4-9 years old. Interaction between players is allowed in some sections but limited to sending thumbs up to each other, so it’s perfectly safe.
I was temporarily granted free access to the app to test it for this review. Opinions are mine, sincere and based on parenting values, and my professional expertise as a software developer and adult education teacher. Read about my transparency values here.