Monday, 7 December 2015

Hour of Code: What's New for 2015?

Hopefully many of the parents reading Tech Age Kids will have their children come home talking about the Hour of Code this week.

You might be wondering what it's all about and how you can build on your kids' enthusiasm to carry on learning about coding at home.

We've put together a list of our favourite Hour of Code resources that are new for 2015. There's some really good stuff out there for free so it's definitely worth taking a look. Note that some of the hour of code projects require specific additional hardware to complete while others can be completed in a web browser or on a tablet.

We're seeing lots of branded content which will have broad appeal to children and is a clever marketing move for the brands involved. Coding for kids is a fantastic cause to be associated with.

The projects are listed roughly in order of difficulty, but some of them cover a range of ages so the ordering is only approximate.

What is the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is an initiative from to get kids interesting in coding by giving them the chance to take part in a fun coding activity that takes about an hour to complete. 

Hour of Code demystifies coding and provides a starting point for kids who want to learn more. 

Dash & Dot

Cute robots Dash & Dot have a new challenge for 2015: have some fab new activities this year:

  • I've already used the Minecraft Hour of Code activity with pupils and it was very popular. Kids who love Minecraft will find the setting very familiar it works really well for introducing basic coding concepts. Age 6+ but higher levels do get harder. 
  • And who can resist the opportunity to control BB-8 using code in the Star Wars Hour of Code activity. I think more than a few parents will be tempted by this one too. Age 6+ but higher levels do get harder. 
  • have also introduced two new themes for their freeplay PlayLab just in time for HOC: Ice Age and Gumball


Kids coding subscription service Tynker have some fun new hour of code stuff for 2015. And did you know that the Tynker mobile app can control Sphero, Ollie and the Parrot Mini Drone?


Scratch also have new activities for this year.

  • There's a Hide and Seek Game featuring the We Bare Bears from Cartoon Network. Kids get to write code for Grizz, Panda and Ice Bear.

    If kids enjoy this the they can also try Bearstack Story and B-Ball Hoops featuring the same characters and quality artwork. 

Made with Code

Made with Code is a Google initiative to encourage more girls into computer science.
  • Made with Code have teamed up with Pixar to release a new Inside Out themed hour of code tutorial for 2015 where kids write Blockly code to control Riley. Success is rewarded with clips from the movie. 


OzoBot Bits are cute little robots that follow lines and colour codes on paper or on a tablet. 

  • There's an OzoBot challenge for the Hour Code 2015 with some fab prize packs.

    OzoBots are tiny robots. You can see the electronics inside the Crystal White version which is neat.

    As well as understanding colour commands OzoBot Bits can also be controlled using drag and drop programming with Blockly.

    Note that the HOC challenge can be done with or without OzoBots. 

Box Island

Box Island is a new kids coding adventure for tablets and they have released an Hour of Code version of the app. Box Island is from Icelandic start-up Radiant Games.

  • In Box Island: One Hour Coding children use colourful drag and drop coding to solve problems on an adventure island. Box Island has fab graphics and made my 9 year old think! It's didn't take anywhere near an hour though.

    : "Mum, can we get the full version?" (He tells me that the early content in the full version of the app is similar to the Hour of Code, but flipped to make it a bit different.)

    Box Island is designed for 8-12 year olds. 

Alice Game Jam

Alice Game Jam comes from Catrobat and partners. Catrobat is a fab Android-based coding app for kids that uses drag and drop coding. Catrobat will seem very familiar to kids who have used Scratch but allows them to create their own projects on Android. 

Raspberry Pi Foundation

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation have some fab projects for this year's Hour of Code.

    • The Raspberry Pi HOC Projects include a selection for beginners and more advanced coders. Some of them use Scratch 1.4 on the Pi, others use Python and there's a fab Sonic Pi musical project. Three of the projects use the fantastic Sense Hat add-on to the Raspberry Pi and there are tie-ins to the current ISS space mission. You'll find a range of projects here that will appeal to tweens and teens. 

    The Ben Heck Show

    Ben Heck also has a hardware-based hour of code project:

    • Ben Heck uses the CodeBug (these are fab by the way, we've got a couple from the Kickstarter) for a neat project.

      The CodeBug is a mini programmable and wearable board that has an LED matrix, buttons and input / output connections.

      Buy a CodeBug: US | UK


    Vox-L is an extensible 3D sandbox game that runs in a web browser. You build stuff with 3D cubes, also known as voxels. 

    • Vox-L has some really interesting hour of code mod tutorials that use block-based graphical programming. Great stuff. Note that it takes a while to load, but is quick once loaded, though we did experience a few glitches. My nine year old spent ages working through this and really enjoyed it. There a paid Learn to Mod service which allows kids to use the same approach to write code which can also be used in Minecraft.  

    That lot should keep your kids busy! It's definitely kept my 7 and 9 year old's busy helping me research this article. 

    Happy Hour of Code
    Tech Age Kids

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    Lindsey Handley said...

    Thanks for trying out our Hour of Code!! =D
    -Lindsey from the LearnToMod Team

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