Programming

The 7 Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming

Christian Cawley Updated 26-12-2019

Young children learn languages better. While older brains may be more efficient, younger brains are increasingly malleable. Like spoken languages, it’s an excellent idea for kids to foray into programming languages.

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But just as old and young brains differ in retention, so too do learning methods. Kids coding apps offer many opportunities to teach children programming. It’s a fun, controlled environment.

Rather than send children to a coding boot camp, check out these best coding apps for kids to learn programming.

1. Kodable

Kodable’s tagline reads “programming for kids, made with love.” Its easy lessons target kindergarten to fifth graders. While the K-3 curriculum is mostly foundational, fourth and fifth grade learning shifts to a focused set of topics. Kodable adheres to programming standards which teach JavaScript. Since JavaScript is an excellent language for beginners, the fundamentals Kodable enforces foster fantastic programming skills.

Plus, progression through lessons remains fun. Games arrive as a set of challenges like navigating a maze. But Kodable doesn’t keep programming concepts too simple. Rather, Kodable even includes notions including looping and branching.

Largely Kodable presents if/then decisions to initially present the concept of programming. Moreover, Kodable makes learning JavaScript fun by using gamification. Overall, Kodable is a solid entry-level means for kids to learn programming Coding for Kids: The Best Classes and Websites Want to teach your kids computer coding? These online classes offer free and paid courses to teach your kids to code. Read More .

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Why it’s great: Kodable can be accessed via the web or an iPhone app and introduces basic programming concepts like looping and branching.

Download: Kodable for iOS ($6.99/month, seven day free trial)

2. Daisy the Dinosaur

Fact: dinosaurs are awesome. Similarly, Daisy the Dinosaur is one of the best coding apps for kids, with mini-games to teach children programming basics.

For instance, a loop-deloop challenge encourages kids to use word commands to make Daisy perform various moves. But there’s a catch: you’re limited to using the spin command once. A hint suggests nesting the spin command inside the repeat five command.

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Daisy the Dinosaur isn’t just one of the best coding apps for kids to learn programming because there’s a dinosaur. Although the dino protagonist certainly helps, it’s more the spectacular focus on coding and its challenges.

Furthermore, Daisy the Dinosaur doesn’t seem tech oriented. On the surface it’s a simple word and puzzle solving game. While Daisy the Dinosaur might be a bit short, it’s free and fundamentally sound.

Why it’s great: Daisy the Dinosaur is free, simple, offers fundamental concepts dressed as puzzles, and appeals even to non-techie kids.

Download: Daisy the Dinosaur (Free)

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3. Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar

The Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar by Fisher-Price offers a unique bonus: an app and optional offline toy. It’s aimed at younger children, ages three to six.

While it’s an excellent idea to start kids off with hands-on tech and programming edification, too much screen time yields detrimental results. Therefore, the Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar app and its corresponding toy work in conjunction.

With the app (which doesn’t require the toy) kids solve puzzles—basic computer programming and coding concepts.

However, some of the directions might be slightly challenging for smaller kids, so it’s best if an adult supervises.

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Why it’s great: There’s a corresponding physical toy in addition to the standalone app. Plus, music and effects can be disabled for a distraction-free experience.

Download: Thing and Learn Coda-a-Pillar (Free)

4.Tynker

Tynker is a solid app, giving children the chance to “tinker” with and get hands on with programming for kids.

Like many apps for kids to learn programming, Tynker infuses coding with excitement. As a platform, it boasts a smattering of choices. Kids can code robots and drones, mod Minecraft, build apps and games, or explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Children begin with code using visual blocks before starting with Python and JavaScript. Tynker starts with visual blocks before moving up to actual code, so there’s a clear learning path.

A comprehensive environment with levels of increasing advancement makes Tynker one of the best mediums for kids to learn programming.

Why it’s great: It’s free and offers paid tiers and mobile apps for iOS. Tynker allows kids to make neat projects and grows as kids do.

Download: Tynker apps for iOS (Free with in-app purchases)

5. Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues—Mystery Coding Game

Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues—Mystery Coding Game presents learning with games, and a subtle STEM theme with its protagonist.

The premise is simple yet effective. There’s a narrative about a tech fair and a mystery to solve. Along the way, kids drag and drop visual code blocks into their proper places. Certain mini games involve selecting costumes, and kids will find this a superb entry-level coding app for STEM development.

Because of its balanced gameplay, Nancy Drew is one of the best coding apps for kids to learn programming.

Why it’s great: Intuitive, entertain gameplay and STEM themes. Want your little ones to grab an appreciation for science and technology? Check out the best STEM toys for toddlers The Best STEM Learning Toys for Toddlers Introducing children to STEM is a great way to develop their curiosity. Here are the best learning toys for toddlers! Read More .

Download: Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues iOS | Android | Amazon Fire (Free with in-app purchases)

6. Algorithm City: Coding Game

Employing cute cube animals to teach basic coding concepts, Algorithm City introduces command sequencing, functions, and loops. A level-based game approach is employed, with the player guiding a character to collect gold.

In all, 51 levels are available across four chapters, split as follows:

  • Educational Chapter has six very basic levels.
  • Easy Chapter covers 15 levels, teaching coding basics.
  • Normal Chapter across 15 levels teaches loops by using functions.
  • Hard Chapter has 15 levels and teaches functions.

With simple interface, easy controls, and a choice of player character, Algorithm City teaches children procedural programming. Progression is smooth, with difficulty increased incrementally, although the game can be completed in 90 minutes of solid play.

Download: Algorithm City: Coding Game (Android)

7. ScratchJr

Finally, what many consider to be the best coding app for kids: ScratchJr. This youth-oriented variant of the main Scratch development tool is widely used in schools and is popular with children. There’s a good chance your little ones have already used this tool.

As explained on the ScratchJr website, this app is aimed at children aged five to seven years. A simple user interface is based around a stage, programming area, and blocks palette, alongside editing tools.

The result of collaboration Tufts University’s DevTech Research Group, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company, ScratchJr is accompanied by the Official ScratchJr Book and coding cards. You’ll find plenty of tutorials online, too.

Official ScratchJr Book Official ScratchJr Book Buy Now On Amazon $14.75

Download: ScratchJr for Android | iOS | Amazon | ChromeOS

The Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming

Although programming might sound incredibly advanced, it’s an excellent idea to get kids started early. These coding apps for kids provide a spectacular opportunity for kids to learn programming.

Reckon your children are getting a bit bored with programming apps? Now might be the time to change the mood and point them to some coding games for kids. If you need to keep them productively entertained, you could also try these electronics kits for kids The 5 Best Electronics Kits for Kids Electronics kits are a great way to gain experience and have fun. If you need to keep the little ones entertained, here are the best electronics kits for kids. Read More .

As your kids grow older, you may even want to introduce them to these awesome coding games for learning programming The 9 Best Coding Games to Build Your Programming Skills Coding games help you learn faster with hands-on practice and experience. Plus, they're a fun way to test your programming skills! Read More .

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  1. Michael P Carter
    January 4, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    You overlooked codeSpark Academy!

  2. Jaime Salcedo
    April 30, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    They look fine, thanks. What about Scratch?

  3. Laura
    March 14, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    http://www.vidcode.com is a great option for 4th grade+ that focuses on kids' creativity.