By Christine Elgersma, Common Sense Media
When your kid starts talking about loops, go-to commands, and branches, it probably means she’s learning to code, and that’s a very good thing. In a technology-fueled world, coding is quickly becoming a prized, 21st-century skill. Plus, it encourages kids to become creators, not just consumers, of the technology they use.
Coding apps come in a range of formats designed for different ages and abilities. They often incorporate bright colors, cute characters, and elements of game design to appeal to kids. Beginners typically learn to create programs by dragging and dropping visual blocks of code. Intermediate users are ready for kid-friendly programming languages, specially designed to train newbies. Advanced coders can start working with real programming languages that have a more gradual learning curve than what the pros use — but still produce sophisticated results.
Whatever your kid’s level, there’s a tool that will get her behind the computer curtain to actually create content.
- The Foos: Code for an Hour FREE. 5+
Story-based coding game has kids play through increasingly challenging levels.
- Kodable Pro. 6+
Solid beginner game that introduces coding concepts and has lots of parent resources.
- ScratchJr. 6+
Kids drag and drop blocks of code, snap them together, and watch them work.
- Tynker. 7+
Use either the website or app to let your kids learn coding logic through games.
- Cato’s Hike. 8+
Through it’s a story-based adventure, kids learn basic coding concepts.
- Scratch. 8+
After creating scripts through coding blocks, kids can share their creations online.
- My Robot Friend. 9+
This robot-themed coding puzzler has kids coding their way through mazes to find treasure.
- Hopscotch. 10+
Appealing interface draws in boys and girls who can share creations with online community.
- Lightbot. 10+
By meeting programming goals, kids unlock new levels and learn more advanced concepts.
- Mozilla Thimble. 12+
Advanced, side-by-side coder lets kids see what programming codes do as they create.
- Codecademy. 13+
Interactive lessons for several programming languages offer several skill-level tracks.
- CodeHS. 15+
Membership service offers instruction and examples for more advanced coders.
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