Do your Cub Scouts love playing games on your smartphone or tablet? Then they’re going to love Bitsbox! It’s a super fun way to learn to code for kids by allowing them to make their own apps. If you have a Webelos or Arrow of Light Cub Scout, he can use Bitsbox to complete the Game Design elective adventure.
The folks at Bitsbox were kind enough to send me one of their subscription boxes so that my Arrow of Light (aka Webelos 2), Grant and I could review it. The opinions below are all mine (and Grant’s). I’ve provided my affiliate link to Bitsbox for your convenience. If you use them, I’ll make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
What is Bitsbox?
Bitsbox is a monthly subscription box that teaches kids to code. Each month, Bitsbox has a theme such as Animal House, Welcome to the Future, Bon Voyage and Lazy Summer. They send out instructions so kids can code their own apps related to the topic. Video games, puzzles, drawing tools, music apps, and simulations are just a few of the types of apps your child can code.
Children learn to code by starting with simple apps, some with only two commands. The skills they learn build on each other, so the projects become a bit more complex as you go through them.
Both boys and girls love Bitsbox. It works best for kids in the 6 – 12 year old age range, but I had a blast playing with it too. Depending on your child’s skills and interest, both younger and older kids will enjoy making their own apps. If a child can read, he can learn to code with Bitsbox.
Grant is 11, and he had fun! He’s a bit impatient, so he preferred the shorter apps because they took less time to type in. He also enjoyed creating his own apps.
How can Bitsbox help with the Webelos and Arrow of Light Game Design adventure?
The requirements for Game Design are:
Do all of these:
1. Decide on the elements for your game.
2. List at least five of the online safety rules that you put into practice while using the Internet on your computer or smartphone. Skip this if your Cyber Chip is current.
3. Create your game.
4. Teach an adult or another Scout how to play your game.
The Game Design adventure doesn’t require the Cub Scout to make an electronic game, but if he does, he should list five online safety rules. Use this as a good time to “recharge” their Cyber Chip, if necessary.
Boys will then need to decide on the elements of their games. Their handbook describes them as:
- Goals & Mechanics
The story is often the most difficult part, but if they spend a little time looking at the “assets” they have available in Bitsbox, they will definitely get some great ideas! Assets are backgrounds, images, colors, sounds and songs as well as the commands needed to add these to the game and to make things happen in the game. Bitsbox adds new assets regularly.
Take a look at this video to see some of the assets they’ll have to play with.
As I was looking at the Bitsbox assets, I saw a Boy Scout stamp and a popcorn stamp, so I decided to make a game of the Boy Scout selling popcorn. Our boys are much more imaginative than that, so I’m sure they’ll come up with some incredible ideas.
One of Grant’s favorite parts was being able to swap out stamps. For example, the Hal Animator project has Hal the Robot dancing. Grant thought it was hilarious to swap Hal for one of the zombies.
At the end of each project, there is a challenge that has kids changing up their game. In Hal Animator, kids are told about other moves that Hal can make and are encouraged to add these to their program. I love this part because it isn’t just copying what you see. In my opinion, that’s where the real learning is.
After your son has coded his game app, he can have others play it in three ways:
- Play the game online right from the place where he created it
- Share the link to the game
- “Zap” it to a tablet or smartphone equipped with a QR reader (Free iPhone QR reader & Free Android QR reader)
Grant loved zapping his game to Nana’s tablet and my phone so that we could play the game he created!
How much does Bitsbox cost?
Deluxe Bitsbox – Each month, Bitsbox ships your child a new themed boxes which contain:
- “Giant pile” of Super Cards – The cards have the project printed on them. The graphics are awesome!
- “Apper Keeper” – The three-ring binder holds the Super Cards and will be sent to your child with his first box.
- App Trading Cards – The smaller trading cards have bonus projects for your son to enjoy.
- Coordinating Stickers – The repositionable stickers match the apps on the Super Cards.
- Temporary Tattoos – The cute tattoos show everyone that you’re a coder.
- Mystery Toy – The toy is related to the theme, and there is an app project that features the toy.
The Deluxe Bitsbox are as low as $30 per month when you purchase a one year subscription. A three month subscription is $35 per month billed quarterly. Or you can purchase the monthly bill option for $40. Shipping is an additional charge.
Bitsbox – Kids who subscribe to the regular Bitsbox will receive the Super Cards and the Apper Keeper. The Bitsbox subscription is $25 a month with free shipping.
Digital – A digital subscription is $20 per month. Each month, you’ll receive an email with a link to the pdf for each project. Your child can use this online or you can print it for him.
Personally, I’m choosing the regular Bitsbox subscription. I know that I’ll want to print out the pdf in color (because of the amazing graphics), and it’s worth it for me to pay the $5 extra rather than wasting colored ink.
My Bitsbox Game
Want to see what I did in Bitsbox? Click over to play my game! It was super simple and didn’t take me too long.
I was quite proud of it, but my boys thought it was “lame.” 🙂
While you’re there, try it out for yourself or have your Cub Scout create an app. I know they’ll love it!
Bitsbox Exclusive Discount
Bitsbox was kind enough to give me an exclusive discount code that you can use to purchase your subscription or certain items in the Bitsbox store! Just enter the coupon code CUBSCOUT15 on the checkout screen, and you’ll get 15% off your order!
Don’t forget to have your kids try out Bitsbox! The program is free to use online.
Yours in Scouting,