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Best Apps for Coding

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Best Apps for Coding

There are many apps for coding. But what makes a good coding app? One which teaches real, useful coding skills? And what age should I introduce my child to some apps for coding? Is coding an essential skill for all kids? These are questions I get often from parents. There are actually many compelling reasons for kids to use coding apps.

Last year I wrote a 10 Best Apps Series. This year, I’m updating and expanding that series because let’s face it, many times there are more than 10 best apps in a category. And when it comes to the Best Apps for Coding that certainly is the case.

In fact, I deleted coding apps only available for iOS off my list and still have well over 10 best apps for coding. I also noted apps which offer family sharing. Many parents I talk with love the ability to purchase and share apps. Sometimes that means a younger child will have a host of apps available through family sharing just waiting for them as they grow older. Think of it like holding onto those quality toys from one child to the next.

So let’s jump in and learn about my favorite apps for coding. And for those of you wondering, yes I did play…test them all. I’m removing my former numbering of them because I really think they all have great qualities. My hope is the description helps you determine the coding apps that are a fit for your child based on their age and learning style.

Lightbot Coding Puzzles #1 app recommended Best Apps for Coding list at leahnieman.comLightbot: Coding Puzzles

Recommended Ages: 9-11

Lightbot is a programming puzzle game. Users gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals as they guide a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. It’s so fun, users don’t realize how much they’re learning!

Lightbot has 50 levels and 20 challenge stars to collect. There are multiple save slots and separate progress tracking for multiple players. So, families can play Lightbot on the same device; multiple players can advance at their own pace in their own save slot. Players are also able to compete on number of levels finished, number of stars collected, and number of overall commands used to complete the game.

Lightbot lets you play in English, French, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Norwegian, Slovenian, Romanian, Indonesian, German, Polish, Danish, Croatian, Dutch, Slovak, Czech, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Thai, Hindi or Swedish! To change the language simply hit the associated flag icon on the main screen.

There are no in-app purchases.

Awards:

  • Best Kids App for iPad! -Best App Ever Awards
  • Best Educational Game App – iEAR.org

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android        Kindle

SpriteBox Coding

Recommended Ages: All

SpriteBox Coding is the perfect coding app for young learners who are just exploring the world of coding. What makes SpriteBox Coding rise above other coding apps, especially for younger kids, is it doesn’t feel like separate games or puzzles to solve. Instead, kids embark on an adventure to find pieces of their broken rocket. The adventure follows a single storyline. Along the way they’ll learn valuable coding skills. There are over 70 puzzles to keep kids learning and engaged.

In SpriteBox Coding kids will learn:

  • Sequencing
  • Parameters
  • Loops (and Nested Loops)
  • Procedures
  • Basic Swift/Java Syntax

The same team that developed Lightbot created SpriteBox Coding. So, kids can start learning to code using SpriteBox Coding and then move along to Lightbot.

There are no in-app purchases.

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android

Parents Guide to YouTube

Kodable app Best Apps for Android list at leahnieman.comKodable

Recommended Ages: 4-11

The Kodable app can be used alone, but you’ll get the most from it when you pair it with the award-winning Kodable Curriculum. This curriculum is designed to teach computer science to elementary students grades K-5. And, best of all, it’s FREE! Visit kodable.com for more information about the complete Kodable Curriculum.

Kids have the ability to learn concepts from an early age. Many of today’s best programmers fell in love with coding at a young age by experimenting with the very concepts taught in Kodable. Understanding computer science not only empowers your child for the jobs of tomorrow, it expands their mind to solve problems in more intelligent ways.

Kids learn the fundamentals of every modern programming language in a fun and inviting way. Kodable introduces computer science to kids using fun, furry aliens called Fuzzes. The naturally curious Fuzzes need kids to program them to explore all the colorful Technomazes on the planet’s surface. Along the way kids learn:

  • Sequence/Order of operations
  • Algorithmic operations
  • Conditional logic statements
  • Problem solving skills
  • Higher level thinking skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills

In-app purchases are available.

Awards:

Editor’s Choice Award! – Children’s Technology Review

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Website

 

codeSpark Academy

Recommended Ages: 5-10

The popular Foos coding app is now back and updated. And yes, the name has changed. But don’t worry, codeSpark Academy with The Foos is still an awesome coding program for kids 4-9!

Join two new Foo friends, Sergio and Sophie, on a brand new minigame adventure: Crocodile Catch! Here kids explore mysterious ancient temples. Along the way they’ll learn the concepts of variables and inequalities. But, keep an eye out for crafty crocs!

With 32 levels of discovery, Crocodile Catch will keep kids learning.

Skills players must master:

  • Determine the actions needed to solve each Foo’s problem
  • Order actions in a logical sequence
  • Recognize patterns
  • Use those patterns to make their code more efficient
  • Test solutions
  • Learn from tests and try revised solutions

There are NO in-app purchases in The Foos. But, please note before installing, this app offers push notifications. These can easily be disabled in your device settings.

Awards:

  • 2018 ISTE Educators Conference – Best in Show
  • 2017 Wharton Re-imagine Education Awards – Best Educational App
  • 2016 KAPi Awards – Best App or Product for Younger Children
  • 2016 Kidscreen Award – Best Learning App
  • 2015 Parents’ Choice — Gold Medal
  • 2015 USA Today’s — Best Pick
  • 2015 Tillywig Toy Awards – Brain Child
  • Apple Editor’s Choice & Top Educational App
  • 2015 Children’s Tech Review— Editor’s Choice for Excellence in Design

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android        Kindle

 

Scratch Jr Best list of Coding Apps at leahnieman.comScratch Jr

Recommended Ages: 5-7

Scratch Jr is an introductory programming language inspired by the popular Scratch program used by millions of kids ages 8 & up. Scratch Jr has a redesigned interface and programming language appropriate for kids 5-7.

Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing to create their own interactive stories and games. They can also modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves. Then, they can use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life.

What’s fun and unique about Scratch Jr is the approach. Children aren’t just learning to code; they are coding to learn. They learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, not just to interact with it. Children learn to solve problems and design projects, and they develop sequencing skills that are foundational for later academic success. Math and language skills are used in a meaningful and impactful way.

Android Users: Scratch Jr works only on tablets that are 7 inches or larger, and running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) or higher.

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android        Kindle

 

Tynker Best Coding Apps at leahnieman.comTynker – Learn to code

Recommended Ages: 9-11

Tynker is an intuitive and imaginative app for coding. It’s inspired by visual programming languages like Scratch from MIT, Alice from CMU, and other programming languages like Logo, SmallTalk, and Squeak.

More than 40,000 schools and 28 million kids have used Tynker to learn coding and computer programming skills. It’s easy to see why. Tynker has over 100 step-by-step coding tutorials!

Kids can learn with interactive tutorials. Then go on to create an unlimited portfolio of games and projects to share and play with friends. A few things Tynker teaches are:

  • Animation: Stop-motion animation and custom character animation
  • Drawing: Pen commands, math art, kaleidoscopes, and your own art studio
  • Game Elements: Scoring, health, buttons, and joysticks
  • Game Kits: Arcade shooters, platformers, runners, and physics games
  • Motion: Move, follow, spin, and glide objects on the screen
  • Music: Music, sound effects, musical notes, drum beats, and tempo
  • Physics: Falling balls, bouncing penguins, zero gravity, and cannons
  • Storytelling: Slideshows, stories, comics, jokes, riddles, and quizzes

Additional puzzle sets available as in-app purchases. 

Awards:

  • Parents’ Choice Gold Award
  • Editor’s Choice, Children’s Technology Review
  • Rated 5 stars for Engagement, Common Sense Media
  • Academics’ Choice Award
  • Rated “Best for 8-14” by USA Today
  • Award of Excellence from Strictly Mobile

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android

 

Box Island – Award Winning Coding Adventure

Recommended Ages: 6 & up

Kids learn coding skills in Box Island as they help Hiro collect all the stars scattered in the wilderness! Box Island keeps young kids engaged with an exciting story and plenty of educational tutorials. But, what sets Box Island apart from other coding apps is the beautifully rendered 3D world in which the story takes place.

Upgrades available as in-app purchases. 

Awards:

  • Winner of Gold Award at Parents’ Choice Awards 2016
  • Winner of Best Fun for Everyone at Nordic Game Awards 2016
  • Winner of Bronze Award at International Serious Play Awards 2016

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android

Robot School Best Apps for Coding at leahnieman.comRobot School Programming Game

Recommended Ages: 7 & up

Robot School is a programming game that makes programming fun for kids of all ages regardless of their experience. Players are introduced to R-obbie the Robot who has crashed his spaceship in a faraway galaxy. R-obbie needs a lot of energy to get back to his planet. Players drag and drop programming instructions to help him reach the fuel he needs to return home safely.

Robot School includes:

  • 45 levels that teach real programming logic
  • Drag and drop instructions to control R-obbie and collect the fuel
  • New powers and achievements unlocked after completing each level
  • A preview of your code in Swift programming language
  • An easy way to share your code on Facebook

Robot School is a great logic game for grown-ups too! So, parents, play along with your kids.

There are no in-app purchases.

 Awards:

  • Winner of 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Award

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS 

ALEX Best Apps for Coding at leahnieman.comA.L.E.X.

Recommended Ages: 6 & up

A.L.E.X. is a no frills, but fun puzzle game. Players must think logically as they plan and program their robot, A.L.E.X., with a sequence of commands to get through each challenge. Levels progress and get more challenging. 25 levels are included in the free version. Players can upgrade to an additional 35 levels with more block types to create their own puzzles. The upgrade also gives 3 additional looks for A.L.E.X.

Upgrade available as in-app purchase. 

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS        Android

Coding Games for Kids to Play AppCoding Games for Kids to Play

Recommended Ages: 8 & under

Getting kids interested in coding from an early age is a great way to help them learn to have fun while gaining a valuable skill. This fun app is the perfect way to introduce your elementary schooler to coding without making it seem like a boring school task. The games on this app teach players the very basics of computer programing. With more than 50 games to choose from, your little one will have a blast improving their problem-solving skills, boosting their memory, and improving their logical thinking skills.

In Coding Games for Kids to Play, your child will learn a variety of basic coding concepts, including:

  • Sequences
  • Loops
  • Functions
  • Debugging
  • Arrays
  • Coordinates

And your child will also help improve skills needed to be a successful coder, such as:

  • Pattern recognition
  • Ordering actions in a logical sequence
  • Learning to implement patterns
  • Following instructions

This app is free to use, but you can subscribe to get access to additional content.

Upgrade available as in-app purchase. 

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

Awards:

  • NAPPA 2018 – National Parenting Product Award
  • 2018 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award
  • Mom’s Choice Gold Award

IOS        ANDROID

Blocky Best Apps for Coding at leahnieman.comBlockly for Dash & Dot Robots

Recommended Ages: 8 & up

PLEASE NOTE: This app requires a Wonder Workshop robot – Dash or Dot – and a Bluetooth Smart/4-enabled device to play. I normally only recommend apps for coding which run without a toy. However, I feel this robot really is worth sharing.

What is Dash and Dot?

The app is FREE to play.

So what is Blockly? It’s a visual drag-and-drop programming tool developed by Google. With Blockly, children can snap together commands like puzzle pieces. These coding inventions can then be used to control Dash & Dot robots.

Kids learn concepts like sequencing, events, loops, algorithms, operations, and variables through self-directed play as they explore ways to code their robots. But, this coding app comes with guided challenges as well. Basic puzzles teach kids concepts of coding and give them a springboard so they can learn and explore ideas of their own. Bonus puzzles are added each week so kids never get bored!

Android users: Please note all Android tablets with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) and Bluetooth Smart/4 can download this app. These devices are supported: Galaxy Note 10.1 • Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, 10.1 • Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, 8.0, 10.1 • Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 • Galaxy Tab S 8.4, 10.5 • Nabi 2, DreamTab • Nexus 7 (2013)

Kindle users: These devices are supported: Kindle Fire Kids Edition • Kindle Fire HD 6 • Kindle Fire HD 7 (2014) • Kindle Fire 7 (2015) • Kindle Fire HD 8 • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (3rd Generation) • Kindle Fire HD 10 (2015 HD Display)

Don’t see your device on the list above? Find out if it’s supported.

Supports Family Sharing: Yes

iOS      Android       Kindle

 

If your child is ready to move beyond apps for coding, and is ready to dabble in basic coding, there are plenty of options. One of my favorites is Minecraft’s Learn to Mod. Your child does need a good understanding of coding. But, the tutorials available and the ability to create in an environment they know and love is both helpful and rewarding. If you aren’t familiar with Minecraft’s Learn to Mod, these are educational add-ons which teach the basics of programming while creating tricks and tools that kids can use within Minecraft.

Find out more about Minecraft Learn to Mod.

What are your favorite apps for coding? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

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14 Comments

  1. Kim on April 14, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Fantastic tips definitely needed to read this xo

  2. Caroline on April 14, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    great list! I’ll have to download a few of these for my son. He’s in second grade and he’s just starting to get into this.

    • Leah Nieman on April 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks! There are definitely some that fit your son’s age range. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Tia M. on April 15, 2018 at 3:18 am

    I will have to check some of these out! would be a bunch more useful than minecraft! I bet the kids will get a kick out of these!!Thanks for sharing this!

    • Leah Nieman on April 15, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      Hope you find some your kids love. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Geethica Mehra on April 15, 2018 at 4:42 am

    My kids are total computer geeks. These coding apps are certainly going to keep them busy for hours.

    • Leah Nieman on April 15, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      It’s always great to find apps that fit our child’s interests. Hope you find some your kids love on the list. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Sarah | Digital Motherhood on April 15, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Love these, my 6 year old loves Scratch so I’ll definitely have to check out some of the other apps too.

    • Leah Nieman on April 16, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      I love Scratch as well. If your 6 year old loves coding there are definitely others you can add. Hope you find a few more. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Sejal Khanna on April 16, 2018 at 5:55 am

    My nephew loves coding. He’ll go bonkers over this list.

    • Leah Nieman on April 16, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      I love how many kids are thrilled by coding. Hope your nephew finds a few coding apps he loves on this list.Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Markie on April 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. You just made my search easy. My boys love coding and the have been using scratch but have been wanting to try new things. This was right on time.

    • Leah Nieman on April 16, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Scratch is a great app for coding but I can understand wanting a bit of variety. I’m glad this list will be helpful. I hope your boys find another coding app they love.

  8. […] written about the best apps for coding before. In fact, many of you reach out to me about coding apps you’ve tried from my list. I […]

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