Coding Apps that Teach Kids Real Computer Programming
There comes a time when kids who are interested in learning how to code must step away from visual block, drag and drop coding, and enter the brave new world of coding with real languages.
Some parents opt to make this leap right away, while others wait until their child has a foundation with visual beginner platforms such as Scratch or Blockly.
Back in the day when I was learning to program, the options were limited. Figuring out the basics of coding was an exhausting process that required a lot of reading and experimenting.
There were no online tutorials, and most documentation was geared towards people age 18 and older. If you wanted to teach your child to code, you were quite limited when it came to proper resources – especially fun resources kids enjoy.
Today, it’s a whole different story. There are a number of online coding apps that make coding fun and creative, and there are even many free options available.
Here is a list of my favorite coding apps for youngsters who are interested in becoming future programmers.
Code.org is a non-profit project dedicated to teaching kids of various ages and ability levels computer programming skills. The main goal of this organization is to present every student with the chance to master coding.
Filled with an impressive number of game-like interactive lessons available in different languages and exclusive videos in which such figures as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and even former President Barack Obama share their knowledge and opinions on the subject of coding – Code.org is truly a great place for getting kids excited about computer sciences and programming.
From app development to game design and website creation – Code.org has courses on a variety topics and stages of coding. Apart from that, the organization also offers App Lab, a tool that makes it easy for kids to create and share their projects.
App Lab is an amazing web-based coding app that in many ways resembles Scratch. It uses the same drag-and-drop interface and a block-based coding system that makes it super easy for kids to develop programs.
What sets this app apart is its unique option to switch from a drag-and-drop block system to “text mode”. The ability to transition between these two modes and see their text-based code side-by-side with their block-based sequence, makes learning to write code easier than ever before.
App Lab also has an asset manager that lets students upload images and sounds they want to use in their coding projects. This opens a whole lot of possibilities that will surely keep students entertained while playing around in App Lab.
CodaKid is an award-winning online kids coding school that teaches youngsters computer programming using real coding languages and professional tools. We accomplish this by teaching kids to program drones, create professional grade video games, build apps, and code Minecraft mods.
CodaKid courses are designed to teach kids how to code and fully comprehend computer programming concepts, such as conditionals, loops, and methods. Youngsters easily master the basics and are able to create their own lines of code and innovate in no time.
We at CodaKid believe that coding is a skill that anyone can learn. Our track record proves that teaching kids to write code can be quite fun and inventive. To us, coding is more than a job skill. It’s an extremely powerful and valuable tool that can transform a child’s imagination into reality.
Teaching your kids to program doesn’t necessarily mean that you are investing in a future where they’ll be sitting in front of an office computer developing apps for their employer. Coders develop games, create animations and solve all kinds of problems. Once your kids master the skill – the possibilities are limitless! CodaKid’s main and only mission is to get students to acknowledge the fun side of coding and all the possibilities that come with learning how to successfully communicate with machines!
Since 2014, CodaKid has taught thousands of kids in over 80 countries to code like the pros. We’d like to think that we’re just starting and have plans to do even more in the future. Our camps and courses are unique because they are focused on individual students and small groups. We always encourage self-initiative and nurture kids’ curiosity. That has proven to be the most effective, engaging and fun way to learn.
Here’s how the service works:
Once you subscribe, BitsBox will start delivering themed packages each month. The packages include toys, play accessories, and nicely illustrated books. Your kid can choose which project they’d like to complete. Next, once they find the one that interests them the most, the instruction directs them towards the official BitsBox site. After they land on the homepage, the students need to type in the code of the app they’re interested in.
The site will then run the app on a computer, and they will need to scan the QR code of the app they want to try. At that point, users will be granted access to the projects and all its features. Whatever changes they make on a desktop computer, they will automatically sync on a phone or tablet.
BitsBox is a fun and extremely useful app that approaches learning to code like learning any other human language. This company offers an impressive number of projects that teach coding across different ages and skill levels. They believe that your kid will never get bored with their service because BitsBox offers one of the friendliest and most engaging ways to learn computer programming.
Best suited for older kids, CodeCombat promotes learning of different computer programming syntaxes and structures.
The game is super easy to set up. All the players have to do is create an account, log in and start playing! New players are allowed to skip the tutorials and go straight to the forest where they the actual game starts. Of course, this isn’t really advisable for inexperienced coders. If your kids don’t know the ABCs of coding in their sleep, they should start from the beginning.
Commands have to be typed in correctly in order to move the character. The game rewards clean code and intelligent thinking. If users write messy code or continue to produce robust coding solutions – their warriors will wander aimlessly around until they’re killed.
At first, CodeCombat can be challenging for beginners. But for those who are willing to put in the work – CodeCombat offers a fun learning experience. The levels are well-designed, and the hints actually help players overcome challenges and pick up valuable coding tips.
Levels and missions gradually increase in difficulty, so players are constantly challenged and encouraged to tryout new concepts and improve their coding skills. If they get stuck somewhere along the game, players can turn to the CodeCombat community for help. The no-code policy prevents community members from physically writing lines of code for other players, which is great because your kids won’t be able to cheat their way through the game.
Khan Academy is a well-known website and an app where youngsters can learn everything from K-12 math, chemistry, biology, arts, history, to computer science and programming.
The best thing about this app is that it allows full access to Khan Academy’s extensive video library on the go. With over 3000 educational videos available in its repository, the Khan Academy app has a reputation online as a great tool for kids who are interested in expanding their existing knowledge on any number of different subjects.
The students can quickly pick up where they left off and download videos or entire lists and watch them at their own pace. If you sign up as a coach, the app will notify you every time your student completes a challenge. Once your child passes the starting courses, you can enroll them in other advanced courses.
Everything on Khan Academy is free. All your kids need to start learning is an account. The courses are available to everyone in the world, as long as they have a good enough Internet connection to download the app.
The only real downside to using the Khan Academy app is that it’s limited to just playing videos. The site itself gives students the possibility to test what they’ve learned while watching the videos through exercises and actual coding assignment. With the app, these key features are not accessible.
Platform: iPad App
For those with an iPad, Kodable is an excellent, free app that helps teach kids complex programming procedures. Best of all, the platform makes it portable and easy for children to use on the go. This means you won’t have to map out too much time to deliberately sit down and use it!
Game play with Kodable centers around choosing a character to roll through levels. This character will encounter directional, rotational, color coding, and looping procedures. The levels will grow in difficulty and complexity, so they can match the pace of the student’s learning. That said, there are times when it can get slightly repetitive.
The reason that this app is great for beginners is in the way that it breaks down complicated topics. It will take key computer science principles and break them up into basic concepts kids can understand. This will help them to build a strong, thorough foundation for the rest of their computer science education.
Kodable also teaches soft skill topics that are relevant to computer science as well as other areas of life. Things like communication and social emotional skills are critical when it comes to the real world of computer science. Best of all? They are transferable to virtually every other area of life as well, even if computer science doesn’t end up being a student’s ultimate goal and passion.
Through Kodable, students will have the opportunity to choose from over 70 lessons with both on-screen and off-screen activities. Lessons include instructional guidance, vocabulary, and study materials to ensure a student’s success. These plans work well as either a pure computer science focus or as a complement to areas like math, ELA, robotics, and more.
7. codeSpark Academy
Platform: Apple/Android App
There is a reason that codeSpark Academy is an award-winning app – and it’s available for both Apple and Android devices! This is another application with a fantastic, game-like interface that will teach kids to code and keep them enthusiastic about learning.
The great thing about using a fun game to teach kids how to code is that they will forget that they’re even learning! They’ll be too caught up in having fun that they won’t look at it as homework or a chore, but rather a fun activity they can do in place of more tedious and monotonous work.
With codeSpark Academy, kids will learn to code with lovable characters known as ‘The Foos’. Each world they will explore teaches fundamental coding concepts. To learn these concepts, kids use logic and problem-solving skills that will help The Foos complete their necessary tasks. On top of teaching core concepts, kids will also learn to stretch their creativity as they shape and control their story along the way.
This app has a word-free design that makes it fun and appropriate for even young children and pre-readers. By starting kids off this young, they can truly get a jump start with computer science and have a much easier time as topics get more advanced. It also supports independence and autonomy since the puzzles give kids a chance to learn without excessive help from a teacher or parent every step of the way. This is a key part of building confidence and lasting results.
codeSpark introduces a variety of computer science topics that are central to a student’s foundation. This includes everything from sequencing to conditionals. Kids can embark on exciting challenges by learning algorithms that can automate their pet care center or solving math inequalities to explore a hidden temple.
The open play area in the app gives kids a chance to create and code their own games! Upon completion, kids can then share their creation with the community of kid coders. They can even code interactive stories that include custom voice recordings and photos. Best of all? The app contains no advertisements or in-game purchases, so you don’t have to worry about accidental charges from your curious child!
Platform: iPad App
Another great application designed for the iPad is Tynker. This is a revolutionary app that uses code blocks to teach young kids how to program. It’s another excellent resource for pre-readers and beginners since kids will use visual code blocks that represent more complex coding concepts.
Tynker has a number of apps to choose from, making it possible to create a collection if a child is entertained and interested. There is Tynker, Tynker Junior, and Mod Creator that kids can download and use to code, create, and mod on a tablet. Being able to use the program on an on-the-go device makes it fantastic for kids who already busy with school and activities.
The coding lessons in Tynker guide kids along a path where they will periodically earn badges as rewards for their hard work. Lessons include interactive modules, mini-games, projects, and puzzles that will teach kids the basics of computer science. Essentially, kids will solve the puzzles and tasks presented in the form of a buggy code that they will have to figure out how to fix.
Platform: Android/Apple App
Lastly, we have one more app for both Apple and Android. While it may seem that LightBot is intended solely for beginners, it is actually a great resource that grows with the user. The further you level up, the more you realize the game is a great logic activity for more advanced players as well.
Lightbot is a challenging programming puzzle that teaches students the logic of coding through basic concepts. As you provide guidance for the robot to help him light all the blue tiles, you are actually being introduced to coding basics. The commands are fairly simple, but throughout the game you encounter some of the computer programming terminology, like loops and conditionals.
Students will be provided with brief instructions at the start of a level that make it easy to follow without distracting complications. Completing one level will unlock the next one, so students are motivated to keep achieving and learning so as to unlock more exciting challenges.
The increasing difficulty of the levels makes this a great resource for kids of all ages. Young beginners and more advanced teenagers alike can solve puzzles and learn vital skills like sequencing, overloading, procedures, recursive loops, and conditionals. Millions of kids are already using this app, and there is a reason for the popularity!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article from beginning to end. As you can see from everything written above, there are some exciting apps and websites that make learning to code fun.
To recap, the fantastic apps for both web browsers and smart devices are:
- Khan Academy
- codeSpark Academy
Did we miss something that you think should have made our list? If so, please let us know your thoughts by leaving them in the comments below.