11 Resources & Apps to Teach Kids How to Code

If you are one of the many parents now managing the responsibilities of working at home while also taking care of your children, you’re not alone. The internet is flooded with various educational content to keep your kids engaged and learning as we all maintain our social distance. 

Code-themed education can help your kids learn useful skills like touch typing, processing, and creative coding. Give your kids a new and exciting way to stay occupied while learning something fun.

Here are 11 resources and applications that can help teach your kids how to code.

1. Code.org– Code.Org is a nonprofit that provides a leading curriculum in computer science for K-12. Their full course catalog features interactive courses like creating your own game, building real-world apps, and encouraging students to pursue computer science in higher education.

  • Hour of Code from Code.org– The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science that was designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone could learn the basics of computer programming. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities and expanding to all sorts of community efforts. Parents can make Hour of Code a weekly activity with their children, and even host an event with friends.

2. Scratch Jr– Scratch Jr is a free app designed to teach younger children between the ages of 5-7 how to code. Kids can program their own interactive games and stories before watching them come to life using programming blocks.

3. Code Avengers– Are you ready to make screen time productive? Code Avengers teaches computer programming, problem-solving, and critical thinking through playable games and computational thinking. They also feature a junior, pro, and educator edition for everyone to get involved!

4. Kodable– This app is only available for iPhone and iPad, however, it offers a wide array of lesson plans for kids of all ages. Kodable encourages kids to “build a foundation for their future” with basic to complex programming procedures like building your first program and learning JavaScript.

5. Grasshopper App– This free app helps children learn to code JavaScript through progressively challenging activities and puzzles. Grasshopper has no age guidelines and is suitable for anyone looking to build their skills with coding fundamentals, programming language, and more!

6. CodeSpark Academy– CodeSpark Academy is an app that teaches kids how to code through characters called “The Foos”. Kids use logical thinking and problem solving to help “The Foos” complete tasks in subjects like pattern recognition, coding puzzles, and applied concepts.

7. Stencyl– A free app that is available on both Android and Apple devices, Stencyl allows kids of all ages to create and publish their own games by learning programming skills. It teaches game logic through a drag and drop interface and world-building.

8. Go Tynker– Using blocks, Go Tynker is a free iPhone/iPad app that assists kids from grades 1st-8th with learning coding in an interactive way. By completing lessons, kids earn badges to reward their progress. 

9. Hopscotch– This free app is great for kids ages 7-13, but can be used by anyone wanting to learn how to code. Hopscotch has self-paced video tutorials that teach coding through popular games like Pokemon Go and Geometry Dash.

10. Hello Ruby– Hello Ruby is a STE(A)M education-based series that takes children through the adventures of Ruby and her adventures in coding. Created by programmer and children’s author Linda Liukas, Hello Ruby has been published in over 20 languages and features free, fun activities you can print at home!

11. GoldieBlox– If you’re looking for a hands-on approach to storytelling and STEM, GoldieBlox uses videos, animation, curriculum, and more to teach girls about science, technology, engineering, and math. You can help your child build a light-up unicorn pillow or a do-it-yourself (DIY) mermaid cell phone case and more!

Tips For Teaching Kids How to Code:

Coding can be a fun and interactive experience for you and your child. Whether you’re sitting down and working with your child or allowing them to explore the world of programming while you get work done, here are some tips to keep in mind as they engage on the computer.

Challenge Kids Ideas of Computers

  • Start off the conversation by asking, “What is a computer?”. Then have a couple of pictures of household items that include different types of computers or technology like a self-flushing toilet, sprinklers, or even pets. 
  • Ask your kids to identify which of the photos are computers. When they look baffled, explain that all of these examples are computers. For example, the toilet has sensors that detect motion and communicate for the device to flush and sprinklers are set on a timer to go off on certain days at certain times.
  • Even pets can be considered a computer if they have microchips in their skin that store home addresses and contact information. By using examples they understand, parents can make computers and technology seem more interesting and something they can engage with daily. 

These exercises challenge the perception that computers are just rectangular boxes with screens. With today’s technology and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), anything can be a computer! Being on the computer can be a fun, educational, and immersive experience for a child as they learn how to focus, analyze, and train their brain with a new skill. Change up their routine using these amazing resources that can keep them entertained for hours.

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Julie Archer
Julie Archer | Contributor

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