We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.
If you’re like most of us, you probably spent countless hours in school wondering when you will ever use any of the stuff you’re learning, all while trying not to nod off. These days, more and more parents are purchasing coding apps for their kids, to get them started at a young age learning a skill that could be essential in a world that is becoming more digitized and automated with each passing day.
In some way or another, coding games for kids have been around since the 1970s. These games teach kids how to code, which is basically just using written instructions to tell a computer, or app, phone, or website what to do. The basics of coding are easy enough for children to pick up as young as age 4 or 5, even before they know how to write or spell words.
Coding is a great mental exercise that helps train young minds to grasp complex ideas and principles, and build problem solving skills. It can help them gain a greater understanding of the world around them, as well as a skill that they will definitely use someday long after they’re out of school.
So go ahead and take a look at what coding games have to offer, if your kids are going to have their faces glued to a screen anyway, they might as well be learning a skill that will be beneficial in today’s tech-heavy market.
Coding games run the gamut from simple puzzle-solving games, to platforms on which kids can design and build their own computer games. Part of the point is for them to be educational, without the kid realizing. Put simply, the kids are so busy having fun they don’t notice that they’ve actually learned something.
Allow kids to design and program their own video games
Teaches object-oriented programming (dragging objects to make icons/characters move)
Teaches basic programming syntax
Provides introduction to coding languages including HTML, Python, Ruby, PHP, and more
Board games that use cards, figurines, and so on, and do not need an electric device of any sort
Scratch was designed by programmers from MIT for users aged 8-16, a–d it is currently used by millions of kids in countries across the world. With Scratch, you can create your own art project, and then share them with a community of users. Users just drag and drop blocks that have instructions on them (move 10 paces, turn left, etc.) in order to animate small cartoon icons on the screen. It’s intuitive and easy enough that even a middle-aged parent can learn it.
Tynker is a children’s’ coding app that has a drag and drop function that is very similar to that of Scratch. You don’t have to worry about writing complex code or that you’ll make a typo which that throw off the whole code. The company refers to it as a “Lego-like visual language.”
“Lightbot” has gone all-in on the argument that coding can be a sort of subversive, accidental learning experience while one is having a good time. The company says LightBot “secretly teaches you programming logic as you play.” Available for all ages, Lightbot is a great app for beginners.
It’s a simple puzzle-solving game where you have a small robot on the screen that has to solve a number of problems, using the instructions available to the users on the dashboard. By arranging symbols on the screen, you are able to get the robot to follow your commands. With great power comes great responsibility, but there’s only so far the robot can go anyway.
Does it teach logical thinking and problem solving?
Can the game facilitate open-ended play, or is it too rigid?
Will the child need too much instruction or can it be mastered by the child on their own?
Will it keep the children entertained?
Is it appropriate for their age level?
Hopscotch (only on Apple)
If somebody told you that hopscotch is a skill they could use in the future, you probably didn’t think of the jump rope game. Available only on the Apple iPad, “Hopscotch” is designed to help beginner programmers develop very easy projects. It has the same drag and drop interface for creating scripts that can be activated by the user when done. While it’s a free app, if you pay more, you can share your Hopscotch creations widely on social media.
Daisy the Dinosaur
Perhaps the simplest app of all those mentioned here is Daisy the Dinosaur. Designed for the very youngest of coders, it has possibly the easiest interface of all of the brands mentioned here. With Daisy the Dinosaur, the user sends our reptilian friend Daisy through a series of simple moves such as spinning and jumping. It's built by the makers of Hopscotch, so it’s a bit simpler so as to appeal to the youngest of coders.
For the classroom, the best bet may be Kodable.
Kodable creates custom-made curriculums that are great for teachers who are trying to plan out how and where to incorporate computer science into their classroom. For the most part, the games include the same sort of problem-solving steps where you give instructions to a character about what to do.
The program includes tutorials about the game, which should not be hard for most kids to master.
In addition, the game includes extensive tracking for teachers looking to keep up with the progress of students.
Alice uses block-based programming like many others on this list, but the template corresponds very closely to how Java is written, so that students can perhaps learn a bit of both.
Alice is meant to be used by teachers from middle school and up, in all types of fields ranging from visual arts to language arts.
The name comes from Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. According to Alice, Carroll realized that “the most powerful thing was to be able to communicate clearly and in an entertaining way.”
Using Alice, you can make videos and video games of your own using their drag-and-drop interface.
This iPad-based game teaches kids to code while they solve puzzles by moving a series of colored crates around the screen with a claw crane.
It’s meant more for elementary age students, who should enjoy bossing around the robot crane, giving it and coding instructions to tell it where to put the blocks.
Robot Turtles uses an old school technology – board games – to teach coding to kids who are growing up in a digital age.
Players – known as “Turtle Masters” – take a turtle and a deck of cards. They build a maze and then navigate the turtles through it using cards that correspond to different directions (turn left, turn right, etc.).
Robot Turtles Creator and father of two, Dan Shapiro, said that he made it a board game because he figured his kids already spent enough time staring at screens anyway, and that when he first opened the box to play with them, their eyes lit up and they knew it was something special.
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Learning how to code is one of the best things you can do for yourself in this day and age. Nowadays, it seems like every job requires some sort of basic understanding of technology, so why not prepare your child with these necessary skills? Coding isn't only a good way to prepare them for the inevitable future; it will also improve their concentration and problem-solving abilities across other areas of life, too! It doesn't matter if they're 6 or 16, there are coding games tailored towards both groups that will teach them new lessons while practicing what they've learned before.
You might want to first see what type of programs they use during school hours or on weekends before deciding whether or not to put more time into coding; but don't neglect these simple yet powerful ways of teaching your kids invaluable life skills from a young age!