Bitsbox Subscription Box Review – March 2016
Bitsbox is a subscription service that teaches grade-school children (ages 6-12) how to code apps! Isn’t that amazing? I am well on my way to raising my two boys to be complete nerds, and this subscription may be the key piece to the puzzle.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out our review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Bitsbox
The Cost: There are 3 options. Digital Book is $20/month, Bitsbox Book is $25/month with free shipping, and Bitsbox Original is $40 + $9.10 shipping = $49.10/month.
The Products: All subscription types come with an online account for kids to create their apps. All subscriptions come with a book of projects, although the digital book option is a download. The Original Bitsbox also comes with toys and swag that support the little coder lifestyle.
Ships to: Worldwide
Good to Know: If you have multiple grade school children in your household, they can each set up an online account for free for working on their apps. There’s no need to purchase multiple subscriptions!
Also Good to Know: You need a computer for your kids to work on; Bitsbox’s interface won’t work on a tablet or phone yet.
This is a review of the Bitsbox Original.
This is the book of projects, and it’s probably the coolest technical manual I’ve ever seen! There are about 10-15 different projects in it for the kids to try, ranging from super easy and short to quite lengthy and complex.
Here’s a look at a couple of medium complexity projects from the book. Every project contains the code for the kids to copy to make their app work. Additionally, there are snippets of info such as “What’s a Flag?” that help explain what the child has just copied, plus little challenges to see if the child understands the code well enough to alter the app a little. This technique works really, really well!
The book of projects has a couple of random card tricks in it just for fun, so they sent along a deck of cards (left). They also sent a scratch pad with a tablet design so the kids can mock up any original apps they would like to try. Very helpful!
To go with the “Monkey Business” theme of the box, Bitsbox also sent along these extras: stickers, temporary tattoos, and even a whoopee cushion! Fun! The temporary tattoos are great; they are all about tech pride!
I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the back of the whoopee cushion. It has the code to make the toot sound! How nerdy is that?
When the kids log in to their home screen, this is their “tablet” where they can see all the apps they have built. They can also go back into them and edit at any time.
This is the coding interface the kids use. Obviously the graphics and sounds are already there for the kids to use, but they are writing real, honest-to-goodness code! Bitsbox makes it a really fun experience.
And without further ado – the apps! The proof is in the pudding! My older son made a sound effects machine called Did You Hear Something? The code he was given gave him the first two sound effects, and he had to customize and figure out how to fill in the next six. My younger son made a very complicated app called Zig Zag Zombie that’s a full-on game! They are both actually amazing apps! Check them out! (They will run in your browser, no download required.)
Verdict: Can you tell that I’m completely blown away by Bitsbox? And I’m so proud of my sons for the cool apps they have built! I think Bitsbox’s methodology for teaching coding to the little ones is fantastic! Explaining coding – to anyone – is completely boring, and for kids they wouldn’t really understand anyway. This way, however, they are learning by doing, and their brains are ripe for this kind of pattern-rich learning. My sons also really enjoyed it and dove right into the challenges without any prompting from me. I’m going to reserve judgement on whether the “extras” in the Original box are worth the extra $15-20 until a few months have gone by. My kids loved the extras, and I think they were very well chosen, but I’d like to see a few more boxes before I make that call. In any case, Bitsbox is amazing! We love it!
Have your kids tried Bitsbox? What do you think?