Do you have a child who is interested in learning to code or would enjoy creating their own games? Or do you want to find a great coding resource to use in your classroom?
There are so many fantastic resources out there, it’s almost overwhelming! It can be tough to navigate the options and pick the right ones for your child.
But the good news is, even if you have zero experience with coding or programming, you can help teach your kids or students, and even learn yourself. I’m sharing some of my all time favorite, kid-approved coding resources and they just might become your favorites, too.
A quick note – the age ranges I give are just guidelines. Some of the resources I recommend for older kids, my younger kids have had no problem doing. Just use your discretion – you know your kiddos and students best!
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Young Kids & Beginners – Games & Apps
This fun and simple board game begins teaching kids the basics of programming. It may seem simplistic, but it has multiple layers of play that teach concepts, since it’s designed for parents and children to play together, everyone will enjoy playing!
This game is probably best suited for ages 3-6, but my older boys still enjoy playing it with their younger siblings and using it to create games of their own.
Lego Fix the Factory is one of our son’s favorite apps to play on. It starts out basic, but gradually increases in difficulty as you try to help a robot navigate and repair a factory.
It’s full of puzzles to solve that develop logic skills and encourage spatial judgement. It’s basically a more complex, digital version of Robot Turtles aimed at children ages 8+.
The Osmo has an add-on coding game called Coding with Awebie, which is one of our favorite parts of the Osmo. I’ve been really impressed at how much my kids have learned through this one game! In order to use the Coding with Awbie game, you’ll need to get the Osmo base – which includes a whole pack of learning games and activities – and have a compatible device like an iPad or Fire. You can see my completely honest review of the Osmo here. It’s a favorite with teachers to use in the classroom as well.
Coding with Awebie is recommended for ages 5-12 and I’ve found that to be accurate. The Osmo has tons of other games and apps for children from ages 3-12.
The Ozobot Evo is an excellent, hands-on tool for making coding come to life. It’s a fun little coding robot with tons of coding possibilities, including on screen and screen-free options. You can read my completely honest review of the Ozobot here.
If you’re an educator, they offer classroom kits of the Ozobots that come with five skill levels and over 150 STEAM lessons.
Older Kids – Upper Elementary & Beyond
My oldest has a subscription to BitsBox and I have been consistently impressed. I love that there’s a hands-on aspect with coding project cards (my son loves just flipping through the binder of all the cards he’s received so far), along with the digital aspect of actually coding on the computer.
It offers kids a controlled environment to learn programming concepts, while giving them an outlet for creativity. It’s designed for ages 6-12 and is targeted to both boys and girls.
Most of us have heard of Khan Academy by this point, but did you know they offer an entire section of computer programming classes? They do! In fact, they have a robust library of topics and topics, completely free to access and use.
You can try out some of Code.org’s classes for free or, if you don’t want to commit to a class, check out their Hour of Code, one hour tutorials for all ages.
Scratch is a simple and fun way to learn programming for students, parents, and teachers, created by a team at MIT. From a simple drag and drop coding option with instant results to exploring games and apps created by other users, Scratch is a fun, free coding resource for students with a basic knowledge of coding.
If your child or student has learned the basics and wants to start creating games, Stencyl is, hands down, one of the best resources I’ve found.
There is a version that is completely free to use and then if it becomes something your kid is seriously interested in, they do have a paid version that allows you to publish the games as a mobile app or to Steam – which of course would be so fun for your kiddo!
I’ve only played around with this one a little bit, but my oldest (who is 9-years-old) has gone through one of the basic tutorials successfully, with a bit of help, and was able to create a game. This is an incredible tool, and I am so thankful they have a free-to-use version plus and entire library of books and courses that will teach you or your student how to use Stencyl.
You can see why I said the options can be overwhelming! Even though I love each of these resources for different reasons, I’ll break down what I would do if I had a child or student brand new to coding:
For ages 3-6, I’d start with Robot Turtles and move to the Osmo with the Coding with Awbie add-on.