Coding Games for Kids: The Best Way to Teach Computer Programming
Coding is the occupation of the future. In fact, around 7 million job openings in 2015 required coding skills, so it is no mystery why people want their children to acquire the necessary computer programming knowledge and expertise while they are still young.
Nevertheless, in order to get kids interested in coding at an early age, it is imperative to carefully consider the methodology.
Coding can be challenging, and if taught the wrong way, it can seem like an endless grind akin to reading a assembly guide with impossibly long text.
Courses which to be the most effective are ones that incorporate every child’s favorite past time – coding video games.
From my experience, there’s no better way to engage a child in a code-oriented lesson than through a game – this way they hardly feel like they are studying at all. Not only do they get to explore what’s beyond the boundaries of some of their favorite games; they are also motivated to contribute with their own ideas, all while learning the basics of coding languages. It’s a perfect solution for acquiring knowledge in a fun, creative setting.
Teaching coding through games teaches rigorous computer science concepts such as loops, functions, arrays, switch statements, inheritance, and more. These are the same concepts used in building business and other consumer software applications. They are indeed transferable skills.
While there are many coding games for kids out there, today we are going to cover:
- Code Monkey
- Code Karts
- LEGO Mindstorms
- Swift Playgrounds
Without further ado, here is the list of companies that use coding games for kids as a highly effective way to teach children computer science. We hope that you enjoy!
Scratch is a programming language designed as a great starting point for learning more advanced coding languages, and computer programming concepts in general. While coding in Scratch, kids are able to design a variety of animations, stories and games that they can later share with others who are a part of this games’ community.
Although it is initially intended for children between the ages of 8 and 16, it proved to be a great learning resource for kids of all ages. Through fun and play, they will quickly learn how to think creatively, but at the same time systematically.
On Scratch website, you can find a wide range of useful online tutorials, video and PDF guides to help you get started.
What we particularly love about Scratch is the way that it allows kids to get creative while learning how to code. Students get to build a wide variety of coding games for kids,. and make important decisions about character art, enemy behavior, user controls, sound effects, and more.
CodaKid is an award-winning kids online coding school which teaches kids how to build professional grade video games, apps, websites, and more.
As far as coding games for kids, CodaKid’s projects are some of the most complex of the list here, but for the right type of student, they are immensely satisfying.
CodaKid’s game-based, self-paced online classes include live support through messaging and screen share, which means that although you may be sitting in front of the screen alone, you can count on someone to provide guidance every step of the way.
CodaKid’s online coding courses focus around internationally popular games, such as Minecraft and Roblox, and they also teach kids how to create games using professional game engines such as Unreal 4 (the tool used to make Fortnite).
Kids learn kids coding languages using these professional tools, which makes them feel like real software developers.
CodaKid is a great resource when your child is ready to move past visual block coding, and wants to create custom games, apps, mods, websites, and more.
The lessons can be taken by absolute beginners and there are many resources for experienced coders. The platform has affordable monthly subscriptions for as low as $21 per month, which includes unlimited access to hundreds of hours of student projects.
Blockly is an open source software appropriate for children age of 8 and older, because it requires them to be able to read. However, it is designed for kids who have no programming experience and represents a great starting point for learning text-based coding languages.
As its name indicates, the game consists of blocks which contain lines of code that the kids simply drag and drop onto a screen. What is great about it is the fact that they can run a program they create and see the result of their efforts immediately.
If you want your kid to advance in their knowledge of coding, CodeCombat is fun, game based resource that might be a fit. It is meant for kids age 8 and older who are already familiar with some fundamentals of this coding language.
As far as coding games for kids, CodeCombat fits the bill, as the entire coding experience takes place while your child is playing a game. The user uses lines of code to move the character past a number of increasingly difficult challenges.
As soon as you open the website, you notice the simplicity of the interface; only few minutes into the game and you’ll witness gorgeous graphics and fun RPG inspired coding challenges.
Code Combat is designed to provide a fun and engaging way to practice syntax. The kids are able to see what their code does immediately after they write it, and that way they don’t waste time proofing long lines of code to find a mistake. This not only hastens the process of learning, but minimizes stress and frustration, keeping the kids engaged longer.
Code Monkey finds itself on our list as it is primarily a coding game for kids. Instead of getting a flood of unfamiliar coding concepts, you start by playing a game in which you solve a variety of challenges by writing code in a text-based editor. The goal of the game is to help the monkey cross obstacles, or catch and collect bananas.
Code Monkey requires no previous coding experience. As they are leveling up, kids gradually acquire enough knowledge to create games of their own.
Code.org is a non-profit organization which aims to introduce kids all around the world to computer programing. On their website you will find a wide range of game-based coding lessons that are segmented in accordance with students’ grade and age. Whether a child has previous coding experience or not – it doesn’t matter. Code.org offers a series of several courses, after which kids gain relevant skills to create their own games.
This organization stands behind the famous Hour of Code which engages students from around the world to participate in innumerable activities. Even though the event takes place each year during an education week, the website offers coding games for kids you can play on all devices (even unplugged).
Codemoji is a computer programming curriculum designed for elementary school students. What sets it apart from other coding games for kids is its unique approach. Namely, it teaches kids basic programming skills using emojis, which represent the primary language for communication among today’s youth.
The goal of the game is to show children that coding is no more complex than casual chatting. Simplifying otherwise abstract concepts accelerates the process of learning and retention.
Stencyl is a coding game that allows you to design your own games. Its interface resembles Blockly and Scratch – using a drop-down-technique, you order the blocks of code to create game characters and environments.
You can also write a block of code yourself and share it with other Stencyl players, who can then use it for the creation of their own worlds.
The game is available for desktop and mobile devices, and what kids love about it the most is the fact that the game you create on one device can be played on any other they carry with themselves at all times.
While it may seem that LightBot is developed for first-time coders, the further you level up, the more you realize the game is a great logic activity for older players as well.
As you provide guidance for the robot to help him light all the blue tiles, you are actually subconsciously introduced to coding basics. The commands are fairly simple, but throughout the game you encounter some of the computer programming terminology, like loops and conditionals.
This is a great resource for kids of all ages because they can solve puzzles through programming, learning vital skills like sequencing, overloading, procedures, recursive loops, and conditionals. This is why there are already over 20 million kids across the world playing and learning the basics of coding!
If you’re looking for something with fresh new projects and ideas on a regular basis, then you should look into something like Bitsbox. Basically, it works off a subscription format that allows your child to receive either a digital or physical monthly package of new coding projects to tackle and learn.
One of the best parts of Bitsbox is the flexibility. There are three main package types (basic, deluxe, and digital) as well as numerous subscription types to choose from. This allows you to shape the experience in a way that best suits your unique circumstances, budget, and interests.
The least expensive option is the digital box. This provides the same contents as the physical basic box but in a digital, PDF format. Not only is this a great inexpensive option, it is also the most eco-friendly!
The next up is the basic box which is a physical package that comes once a month. The box contains cards, an organization binder, stickers, and everything else needed to tackle that month’s projects. Everything they do will be through the simple Bitsbox website.
Lastly, there is the deluxe box which has everything the basic box has plus extra goodies. This subscription comes with toys and trading cards that make the experience more fun. Having these prizes will add to a child’s education by incorporating rewards they can associate with the curriculum.
Plus, every Bitsbox comes with a fun theme that can keep students engaged. It helps to keep everything fresh and exciting. Even if the themes and topics have to be fairly consistent to ensure that your child is truly learning the fundamentals of programming, not everything has to be uniform. After all, what child won’t enjoy unveiling fun new themes and exciting toys and accessories in each month’s box?
For many people, an app is an incredibly useful resource. It’s portable, easy to operate, universally accessible to anyone with smartphones or tablets, and it is often free or relatively inexpensive! One great free app to look into for coding games is Code Karts.
This free app is designed to introduce computer programming and coding topics to young children, making it optimal for elementary audiences. Users will navigate 70 levels of challenges puzzles on a racetrack. The goal is to directional bricks in a way that will help the car make it to the finish line.
One of the best parts of Code Karts is that it is available to a wide range of children since it is offered in over 20 different languages. This gives children in many parts of the world the opportunity to not only use Code Karts, but to do so in the language they find most comfortable.
Another gaming platform that has a variety of different educational games to choose from would be Osmo. Not only do they have three coding resources (Coding Awbie, Coding Jam, and Coding Duo), they also have a variety of other subjects covered as well. This way, you can make sure you hit all the marks with your child’s education!
Coding Awbie and Coding Jam both utilize fun, quirky characters that give your child the opportunity to use their creativity as they shape their stories and adventures. Coding Jam even uses music as the centerpiece of the program! Kids can combine their coding education with their love of music to create their own songs.
Osmo is made up of certain base elements you can purchase through their store and a long list of possible add-ons to shape the experience however you like. This is great news for anyone looking for flexibility with their coding games. You can pick and choose the exact things that your child wants and needs all while factoring your budget into the equation.
Another interactive gaming platform that comes with plenty of material for kids is Kodable, an online resource that is used all over the world. With over 70 different lessons that combine both on-screen and off-screen activities and elements, it’s no wonder that so many parents and teachers use it to help further their child’s computer programming education.
Kodable breaks down complicated computer science topics into much simpler, more easily digestible concepts that kids can learn and apply to everyday life. This includes skills like critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and more.
The game has all needed materials included within the lessons and connects with an app to further allow for engagement. There are countless ways that children can express their creativity through this game both on and off screen, so it’s a fantastic investment for beginners of all ages.
The basic version of Kodable is free with an option for the $29 unlimited version, so you can test it out before making a financial commitment. And, if you do decide that the unlimited version is worth the investment, it won’t break the bank!
Another popular gaming platform that many parents and schools use is Tynker. It comes equipped with just about everything your child could need to embark upon their computer science journey.
Currently, Tynker has 32 online courses. They consist mostly of beginner visual block courses that slowly ramp up in complexity. This helps the courses grow with the student and be there for each step in their journey. Tynker offers different subscription types as well so that you can pick the one (monthly, annual, or lifetime) that best suits your needs and budget.
If your child has an interest in robotics specifically, they may take a particular interest in LEGO Mindstorms. This is a game whose app is free, but if you want the robotic kit itself, it will be a more pricey endeavor.
The LEGO Mindstorms: Fix the Factory is the free application for both iOS and Android that your child can enjoy. The main feature is a puzzle game with obstacles and challenges that push users with logic, spacial intelligence, and robot commanding skills.
Kids will have a blast helping the robot make its way through the factory to achieve its goals. All the while, they will be learning programming basics as the clock ticks down to beat the challenges. With incentives and high scores, this game will feel a lot more like entertainment than education. And, at the end of the day, this is what keeps kids engaged.
For students in the middle school age range and iOS devices, there is also Swift Playgrounds. This is a free app designed for iPads that uses interactive puzzles to help kids learn and experiment.
This game is centered around the well-known and powerful Swift language by Apple. This is a language that many professionals use for mobile app development, so exposure to it is incredibly beneficial. Swift Playgrounds serves a platform for creativity and experimentation that kids will love. Plus, it teaches fundamental skills like directions, terms, definitions, and functions in computer programming.
To add to the fun, players have a chance to use their own sounds, images, and photos within the program. This makes it uniquely theirs and adds a personal touch that will add to the creativity and excitement. Best of all, there are new coding challenges released regularly to keep students engaged and on their toes.
Last but not least, we have one of the most popular and well-known game programming platforms out there: Roblox.
One thing to note about Roblox is that it isn’t just a platform designed specifically for kids. In fact, many teens and adults also enjoy and take advantage of everything that Roblox has to offer, especially since it is such a dynamic community with games for (and by) everyone.
In a nutshell, this is a gaming platform with a similar aesthetic to Minecraft that allows users to create and play games within the Roblox community. There is also a currency feature called Robux that can allow users to have an entrepreneurial approach. Users take the Robux they earn from other players (which can be spent on in-game upgrades) to then use on other games. Better yet, they can also convert it into cash and really make money off their creations.
Of course, with any online community it is important to make sure you are keeping your child safe. It is recommended that you look into using Roblox safely and the parental controls that you can set on your child’s account. This can help to ensure that they are still able to enjoy the features of Roblox without encountering strangers or inappropriate content that would present a risk to their well-being.
Coding Games for Kids – Wrap Up
Thank you for taking the time to read Coding Games for Kids: The Best Way to Teach Computer Programming from beginning to end. As you can see from everything we’ve discussed, there are a wide variety of coding games for kids that help even the youngest of learners break into the world of computer programming.
To recap, here are some of the best coding games out there for kids of all ages:
- Code Monkey
- Code Karts
- LEGO Mindstorms
- Swift Playgrounds
Did we miss anything? Do you think there are some other coding games for kids that deserve a place on this list? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments section.