Here are some of the best tried-and-true apps for teaching kids of all ages how to code.
It’s hard to imagine the amazing apps and tools they’ll develop when they’re older if we get them started learning how to tinker now. But most importantly, when you introduce your child to programming, in the process he/she’s not just learning to code, but also coding to learn, as MIT professor Mitchel Resnick writes .
While most of these types of game-like educational apps are rated for ages 8+, if your kid is old enough to read, understand cause and effect, and motivated, you can introduce the games below to even pre-K learners.
The app prompts kids to manipulate a character, Daisy, through challenges that involve loops, events, and other programming basics .
Still, with Move the Turtle, kids can learn a great deal of logical programming concepts, as Wired’s Geek Dad asserts .
Moving past the simple single-character-manipulation apps, you’ll find apps that teach programming through drag-and-drop interfaces with coding blocks.
Scratch : An MIT project specifically designed for kids ages 8 to 16, Scratch has been used by educators and parents around the world to help kids develop animations, interactive stories, and games through drag-and-drop code blocks.
Elise wanted to make a game called “Spider Run” , and the only tool we’ve discussed so far that could really pull this off is Scratch. Although they can’t be turned into bonefide mobile apps, your kids’ creations can be saved and shared on the site.
App Inventor : Formerly a Google project , now hosted by MIT , App Inventor is much like Scratch with its drag-and-drop coding blocks.
After fiddling with App Inventor, you end up with an actual Android app. This makes the online tool really robust, but the interface isn’t young-kid friendly.
Alice : Carnegie Melon’s Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop app uses a unique 3D programming environment to teach kids the fundamentals of programming.
It’s more advanced than other kid-friendly programming tools, though great for older kids.
Video Lessons from Pluralsight : Online training site Pluralsight offers three video courses for kids, teaching them how to program in C# using Visual Basic, use Scratch, and use App Inventor.
What We’ve Learned About Teaching Kids to Code
We’ve had a lot of fun using the apps above, but I think that’s because we’ve looked at them not from a “let’s learn programming” mindset but from a “hey, want to make something? We can use this to do it” mentality.