Codecademy: Code Hour

App review by
David Thomas, Common Sense Media
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Quick-hit lessons cover the basics in a fun, easy way.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn some coding basics with Codecademy: Code Hour. Similar to a grocery store sample, the Hour of Code project is designed to sell the idea of learning to write computer programs, not to provide the whole meal. Although the app makes it easy to get through the exercises through trial and error and does manage to walk through most of the major concepts involved in programming, the end result is about what you would expect to learn in only one hour: the basics. For a kid expressing interest in computer programming, Codecademy: Code Hour might be a good place to start.

Ease of Play

Because each mini-lesson only requires a single selection or input, kids can guess their way to success. Friendly feedback encourages learners while gently correcting any mistakes, making it easy to work through all the challenges in less than an hour.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Codecademy: Code Hour app is only a first step. After kids complete the app, it’s time to move them to one of the more complete Codecademy programming lessons. Fortunately, Codeacademy provides in-depth, well-respected, and completely free introductions to many of the most common computer-programming languages and technology. For a kid with the desire to make the next Facebook or best-selling video game, Codecademy is a perfect place to take the next step.

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What's it about?

The CODECADEMY: CODE HOUR app lives up to its title, offering a short course in JavaScript and HTML in a handful of quick-hit lessons. Walking kids through simple point-and-click exercises, the app introduces key concepts such as variables, operators, flow control, and markup in a way that makes it easy and fun. After as little as 30 to 45 minutes, would-be programmers will have completed dozens of confidence-building lessons designed to encourage future study.

Is it any good?

What can kids learn about computer programming in an hour? They might find out that they have a knack for coding. More likely, they will discover that programming, like any other new subject, can be mastered one small step at a time. By giving kids the idea of programming in a safe environment and supported with affirmative feedback, the would-be programmer takes a tour of data types, flow control, markup, and other hairy concepts in a way that makes it seem fun.

And, although kids won't be able to crack open a compiler and start coding their next masterpieces anytime soon, the Code Hour app ends with the hope that kids will complete their hour-long tour with a renewed desire to learn more about the computer. This empowering message seems more relevant than ever in a digital life saturated with websites and mobile apps. In this way, this app is an important first step on the road from consumer to producer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what seems like more fun: designing Web pages or learning a programming language.

  • Once kids finish the Code Hour app, consider directing them to the Codecademy website for more in-depth instruction.

App details

For kids who love to learn about technology

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