The 2015 Hour of Code event is just a couple of weeks away now and the options for how you can help students participate are broader than ever. Alongisde some awesome new online tutorials being offered by code.org, there;s a fun and free new app that's definitely worth checking out called Box Island.
Last year the Hour of Code launch of the Foos app was a brilliant addition of a simple platform that allowed pre-readers to access some simple coding in a new way. Box Island is definitely as step above the likes of The Foos and Kodable in terms of difficulty and is more akin to Tynker in terms of the way it harnesses the blockly language. It is a student-led, game-based system though and like The Foos and Kodable it does reawrd players with up to 3 stars depending on how well they complete each of the 20 included levels.
Here's a quick look at the app:
(NB this trailer is for the full Box Island app which has more than twice as many levels but is currently only availabke in the Icelandic App Store.)
Across the 20 levels, you guide the character Hiro by coding him to collect the clocks scattered across the adventurous settings. As you can see, one thing that sets this app apart from some similar offerings is the fact that it is in 3D. You'd be surprised at how much that simple twist on the "genre" adds to the overall challenge. My 5 year old daughter breezed through 20 levels on Kodable last week but got stuck on level 3 of this becuase the camera angle was throwing her sense of direction of somewhat!
Differentiation by dimension anyone? LOL
Seriously though, the graphics are superb and definitely a plus in terms of student engagement - it is unlike anything else they might have tried.
It's a worthy addition to the Hour of Code arsenal and definitely an option for some class based coding too with kids of around 6-8. You can even visit http://boxislandgame.com/hourofcode and download a free lesson plan and curriculum guide!