If you’re looking for coding or pre-coding classes, games, toys, and apps for your kids to learn to code, you’ll find everything you need here.
But first, let’s define terms.
Coding is learning a foreign language — a machine foreign language. Just like any language, the ability to read and write it is a literacy of its own. The biggest benefit of learning to code is that kids develop their abilities to think logically. LOGIC! That transfers to many other areas of learning, right?
Programming is, according to a Guardian article, “the process and concepts of logic which – when implemented via code – bring digital services to life.”
Developing programming and coding skills fall within the broader term called computational literacy (CS) meaning “solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science.” CS is understanding how to solve human problems using computers.
40+ Coding Classes, Websites, Games, and Apps for Kids
Whether or not your child is a preschooler or a high school student, there are plenty of options for introducing and developing your child’s coding knowledge.
Most of the coding games and coding apps aren’t actually coding but an introduction to the logical thinking involved in coding. However, the websites and classes teach actual coding skills, even if it’s visual or block coding.
Ready to see all the options?
Coding for Kids GAMES & TOYS
Code-a-Pillar Think & Learn (ages 3 – 8)
This is an impressive new STEM learning toy for preschoolers. Arrange the segments in different orders to make the Code-a-Pillar perform different functions.
Cubetto Playset Coding Toy (ages 3+)
We adore this wooden coding toy with hands-on coding blocks, a coding board, and robot — no extra screens required. It’s easy to use and filled with learning opportunities, not just for coding but also geography and science as well. Full review here.
Dash & Dot (ages 5+)
Dash is AWESOME — I’ve seen kids as young as five figure out how to code with these. (After instruction from an adult.) But, they’re really intuitive and easy to use. It’s an impressively intuitive system. Kids use Dash with the free Blockly app.
Botley the Coding Robot (ages 5 – 12)
We really LOVE Botley! One thing that makes Botley different than most coding toys and games is its self-contained meaning you don’t need another device like an ipad or phone to use it! It’s very user-friendly and teaches kids about sequential reasoning, looping, and conditions such as if, then. This little robot comes with many activities, tiles, building pieces for obstacle courses, and coding cards. I HIGHLY recommend it.
Monthly code box for kids.
Kano (ages 6+)
Build a computer you make and code yourself using Raspberry Pi3.
Lego Mindstorms (ages 10+)
Build and command robots with 601 pieces, motors, IR sensors, and more. The robots will be able to walk, talk, grab, and more…
Let’s Start Coding Kit (ages 9+)
This hands-on kit teaches kids actual coding using a kit of hardware and components and a computer app with lessons and projects. I dislike the small directions which are not at all appealing but like that it’s a fairly simple set up. The lessons include videos that teach both the code and the concepts behind the code. (Like variables and loops.) I recommend it for elementary and middle school kids who want to learn actual code writing, not block coding.
Robot Turtles (ages 4+)
Inspired by the Logo programming language, the game lets young kids write programs with playing cards. This game wasn’t my favorite but some people like it.
Sparki (ages 9+)
Teaches beginners programming, electronics, and robotics; curriculum includes both Arduino code and drag-and-drop programming.
Cubelets (ages 5+)
Learn computational thinking with these small robotic units! Honestly, I really like Cubelets but for the expensive price, its capabilities are fairly basic. Full review here.
Coding for Kids WEBSITES
Carnegie Melon’s Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop app uses a unique 3D programming environment to teach kids the fundamentals of programming. (This is great but better for older kids.)
This series of educational games teaches visual programming.
A website game editor that uses a block-based programming language.
Learn to code, publish, and earn money from games.
Have fun and make games, or hack your homework using Ruby.
A curriculum for elementary schools.
Lissa Explains It All
Explins how to program a webpage.
Made with Code
Website to inspire girls to see that code can help them pursue their passions.
In this Lab, you’ll defend a company that is the target of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Your task is to strengthen your cyber defenses and thwart the attackers by completing a series of cybersecurity challenges. You’ll crack passwords, craft code, and defeat malicious hackers.
First of all, this website is very intuitive for kids. But mostly, the Scratch website gives kids ways to use block coding to program interactive stories, games, and animations. It’s a great introduction to coding! (*My full review here)
Extend Scratch’s simple block-snapping interface with new functionality and hundreds of ready-to-use blocks for programming game apps.
Coding for Kids APPS
We like this coding app! The simple programming interface uses beautiful cards with pictures.
Daisy the Dino (FREE)
This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. And how cute is Daisy?
Make your own games and publish them instantly for anyone to play! Use the easy-to-follow videos to make games like Flappy Bird, create pixel art, or build something new.
Kodable Pro (FREE)
This award-winning game and the accompanying curriculum is designed to teach the basics of computer coding to kids 5 and up.
Move the Turtle
Move the Turtle teaches children (ages 5+) the basics of programming.
Robozzle is a social puzzle game which teaches programming. Using only a few simple commands, teach the robot to recurse a tree, follow a linked list, or count in binary.
ScriptKit is a touchable programming environment for building simple mobile prototypes on iPad using native iOS UI components and social media APIs, available via an intuitive drag and drop interface.
Coding for Kids BOOKS
Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts For the Problem-Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski
In the canon of coding books, this stands apart because it teaches kids computational thinking and coding without using a computer. At all. Grab a notebook and get ready for clear directions and scaffolded instructions to learn algorithms, optimization, loops, constraints, binary code, and much more. Throughout the book, you’ll take an adventure, read your objectives and clear explanations of the concepts then write code. But there’s more. You’ll find activities, puzzles, and biographies. It’s easy-to-follow in bite-sized chunks that sequentially build upon one another.
Girls Who Code is a book that teaches kids the basics of coding. The illustrations, playful design, and teal blue colors of the pages make it an appealing read. The book prompts girls to get into coding themselves by joining a Girls Who Code club or program. It’s companion book, Code It! Create It!, is a guided journal for your coding ideas.
A Beginner’s Guide to Coding Have Fun Using Scratch and Python by Marc Scott, illustrated by Mick Marston
The design of this book is kid-friendly besides being well-written in steps with tutorials that lead kids from knowing nothing to programming amazing functions with loops and music and more. Impressive.
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Base Kit 2.0 from Let’s Start Coding : Beginners Get Started Fast with the Best Coding and Programming Kit for Kids Aged 9-13!Code Master Programming Logic GameROBOT WARS Coding Board Game – Learn and Play with Computer Programming. Geeky STEM Toy and Gift for Boys and Girls ages 7 years and up. No Prior Coding Skills RequiredLearning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set, 83 PiecesWowWee COJI The Coding Robot ToyALEX Toys Future Coders Robot Races Coding Skills KitKano Computer Kit (2016 Edition)Osmo Coding Awbie Game (Base required)Osmo Coding Jam Game (Base required)ALEX Toys Future Coders Poppin’ Pictures Coding Skills KitFisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-PillarCode Monkey IslandThinkFun Robot Turtles Board GameWonder Workshop Dash RobotArcBotics Sparki Robot – Programmable Arduino STEM Robot Kit for Kids – Complete Platform to Learn Robotics, Coding and ElectronicsCubelets SIX robot blocksPuzzlets Starter Pack with Free Programming Game: Cork the VolcanoCoding Board Game: On The BrinkA Beginner’s Guide to CodingGirls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the WorldCoding Games in ScratchPython for Kids: A Playful Introduction To ProgrammingHow to Code: A Step-By-Step Guide to Computer CodingCoding for Kids: Create Your Own Video Games with Scratch
Learn to Code CLASSES
Learn to code interactively for free.
Coding for Kids at Sylvan Learning
Kids in grades 3 – 8 can take video game design and computer programming.
Although we haven’t tried it ourselves, Studio’s website explains that it caters to entry-level novices and seasoned game development professionals equally, allowing them to create cross-platform games.
Learn coding/programming apps, HTML, games and more.
Learn programming with courses on Java, C++, Python & iOS.
Build an app. Program a robot. Control a drone.
Youth Digital – OUR TOP PICK!
In their most popular course, kids ages 8-14 learn Java programming by modifying Minecraft®* and creating their own Mods from start to finish. My daughter LOVED this class and learned so much from it. (My review here)