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 it’s 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 really actual coding, but an introduction to the logical thinking involved in coding. However, the websites and classes are actual coding, even if it’s visual coding.
Ready to see all the options?
Coding for Kids GAMES & TOYS
Code-a-Pillar Think & Learn
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. (Ages 3 – 8)
Cubetto Playset Coding Toy
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. Full review here. (Ages 3+)
Botley the Coding Robot
We really LOVE Botley! One thing that makes Botley different than most coding toys and games is it’s 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 (if, then). This cute little robot comes with many activities, tiles, building pieces for obstacle courses and coding cards. HIGHLY recommended. (ages 5 – 12)
Hands-on coding toy and game for Apple devices. Highly recommended.
Monthly code box for kids.
Code Monkey Island
A board game that helps kids learn computer science logic.
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. SO impressive. Use Dash with the free Blockly app.
A computer you make and code yourself.
Unleash the creative powers of the new LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 set with the most advanced technology LEGO ever developed to create and command robots that walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine.
Let’s Start Coding Kit
This hands-on kit teaches kids actual coding using a kit of hardware and components and a computer app with lessons and projects. I like that it’s a fairly simple set up, the lessons include videos and teach both the code and the concepts behind the code. (Like variables and loops.) (Buy It Here) I recommend it for elementary and middle school kids who want to learn actual code writing.
Teaches beginners programming, electronics and robotics; curriculum includes both Arduino code and drag-and-drop programming.
Learn computational thinking with these small robotic units! Highly recommended.
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. (Better for older kids.)
A series of educational games that teach visual programming.
A game editor that uses a block based programming language.
Learn to code, publish and earn money from games.
Hackety Hack will teach you the absolute basics of programming in the Ruby programming language from the ground up.
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.
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
A little programmer odyssey, simple programming interface using 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.
Make your own games and publish them instantly for anyone to play! Use our super easy-to-follow videos to make games like Flappy Bird, create pixel art, or build something brand new.
Kodable Pro (FREE)
This award winning game and 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 (yes, we do mean coding!)
My Robot Friend
Take control of your robot friend, Alpha-1, using logic, puzzle solving and math skills. Use your arsenal of shrink rays, invisibility cloaks, shields, propeller packs and a whole lot more as you program your way through 80 mind-teasing levels. Program a sequence of instructions for your robot to follow, and earn all 3 ribbons per level by creating efficient programs and collecting all the coins.
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
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 SO kid appealing and it’s very well-written in steps with tutorials that lead kids from knowing nothing to doing some 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
Video game design and computer programming for kids in grades 3-8.
Studio caters to entry-level novices and seasoned game development professionals equally, allowing them to create cross-platform games in record time and at a fraction of the cost of conventional tools!
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 my review here)
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.
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!