How can programming for kids be fun? Through play, of course, and what better way than through apps!
Learning to code is similar to learning a second language, and the younger a child begins to pick it up, the more rapidly he or she will understand it. In addition, programming apps can develop life skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.
Today´s generation of parents are raising their children in a unique world, one unlike anything the human race has previously experienced. Most families are immersed in technology, whether they realize it or not. These technological devices require programming, or coding, to function, and it is a skill set that is becoming more and more necessary on an international level.
These 20 apps, in no particular order, are hitting the mark and making programming for kids exciting and challenging.
This article was originally published in 2015 and was last updated June 2017.
Half puzzles and games, half coding tutorials, Tynker is a series of building blocks that will lead to kids creating their own games. They can even hand draw their own people and backgrounds to give their games a personal touch. Once kids have remixed their own game after learning the basics, the game can be published to the community. You can use this app to code certain real-world robot toys, such as a Sphero robot and Parrot mini drones.
With Tickle, kids can program items around the house, such as toy robots, flying drones, Lego, and other smart toys and devices. These bits of code will create real-world interactions between kids and these devices, or you can even cause multiple devices to interact with each other. Because of the real world application, the creative possibilities are endless. Plus, kids will get an immediate sense of satisfaction and they will comprehend exactly how powerful coding can be.
3. Box Island
You must help your hero explore the island! With the use of story, Box Island motivates, excites and teaches programming for kids. This game introduces kids to algorithmic thinking, sequencing, patterns, and even debugging as an essential process. Let kids journey through a beautiful 3D world as he or she learns to problem solve through coding.
Sometimes called the Garage Band of the coding game world, Codea is a sleek platform where kids can make games, simulations, or anything else their imagination takes them to. Part of Codea’s beauty stems from its ease of use as well as the graphics. This app is intended for kids who already have a small knowledge of writing code.
Hopscotch throws words and typing (almost) out the window and takes the approach of teaching how to code by using simple blocks. This focuses on coding concepts and problem solving, rather that syntax and what to type. Of course, once the concepts are mastered, you can move on to making your own games.
7. Coda Game
Billed as a game engine for kids, Coda Game specializes in providing everything needed for kids to create their own unique, imaginative game. It uses visual coding blocks instead of text to encourage kids to jump right into coding without getting intimidated by long strings of unfathomable text. Kids can edit pre-made templates or make games from scratch, and then share them with their friends.
9. Scratch Jr.
This adorable and visual Scratch Jr. app focuses on children learning to code between the ages of five and seven. They will gain essential skills through story-building, by making the characters sing, dance, jump, and move. By using language and mathematics in a meaningful way, kids will more fully understand the exciting results behind being able to code.
GoldieBlox is an rpg coding app where the goal is to make everyone in town fill up on yummy cupcakes. The art is bright, colourful, and expertly drawn. it has a delicious storyline, and the game even comes with a sandbox mode where kids can let their imagination run free. There are over twenty levels of coding puzzles using the Ruby Rails language, and you can code your own map once you’ve mastered the basics.
11. Move the Turtle
Move the Turtle is another app that helps children as young as five begin to understand how to program, through moving an adorable turtle with reward-based play and incremental challenges. Even if you’re not sure you are interested in programming for kids, they can learn life skills, such as how to problem solve and how to plan complex activities.
Parents and adults alike can become immersed in this adorable puzzle game where you play a robot who needs to go through a series of obstacles to light up the tiles. In order to solve the puzzles, the player must use programming commands which enforce knowledge of loops, procedures, and conditionals. Lightbot or Lightbot Jr is best as an introduction to coding for any age.
CodeSpark can house profiles for up to three kids, ages 4-9, and has a variety of activities to improve programming for kids. Inspired by visual coding languages, it teaches key concepts, delivers personalized daily activities, adds new content monthly, and is word-free (and is thus an excellent choice for kids with dyslexia or those haven’t yet learned to read).
Designed for ages 7 and up, to play this game you must help a robot get the fuel he needs to return home. It includes over 45 levels, and uses drag-and-drop instructions to control the robot and gain powers and achievements. You can even preview your code in Swift coding language. Through Robot School, kids will learn procedures, loops and conditionals.
15. Code Warriors
16. Boogie Bot
Use Blockly, a programming language by Google, to teach a robot to dance in Boogie Bot. Kids will learn programming concepts, such as parallel processing, conditional statements, and variables, while laughing and playing along with a dancing robot. Kids can even earn coins, take the robot for a creative dance spin, and record a video of their end result.
Combine programming with clue collecting and hidden objects and this is your result. By coding your robot dog to carry out actions and find clues, kids will have fun while learning many coding, reading, and thinking skills that will stay with them for life. Nancy Drew is designed for beginners who want to spark an interest in coding.
This colourful platformer combines the fun of exploration, problem solving, and teaching programming for kids. SpriteBox is applicable for all levels, because you can either play with the visual coding (using icons), or type in code directly using Swift. Journey to free your friends and learn real-world skills at the same time!
Kids’n’Code is a beautiful and deceptively simple-looking app, that pulls out all the stops to teach coding to kids. By solving puzzles and moving robots, you can make sure kids learns to recognize patterns, understand algorithmic thinking, visualize well spatially, and even debug with confidence. These are skills that apply to more than just coding, but can improve algebra, geometry, and general logic as they grow older.
Get to know your new friend, El Chavo, and help him learn to code! This game, designed for ages 5-8, has incredible graphics to visually engage kids as they learn. It even includes an area for Parents to monitor progress without intruding on kids gameplay. Topics of focus include spatial reasoning and sequence order.