Coding refers to a phase within the process of computer programming. Thus, coding can also be referred to as programming. Coding is all around us – everything that works has some kind of “code” running behind it.
Learning programming or coding skills is
highly useful for children since it teaches them to solve problems and improve their technical skills. And the best part is that it can be absolutely fun kids. As MIT professor Mitchel Resnick writes that “when you introduce your child to programming, in the process he/she’s not just learning to code, but also coding to learn.”
Over the past year, a number of apps have emerged that aim at teaching children how to practice programming/coding skills, particularly on iPad. These apps can help kids even with the basic reading skills understand the basics of thinking and planning to make things happen and create numerous applications such as interactive games, quizzes, etc. The best thing about these apps is that most of them are free and doesn’t require any coding background or expertise.
Here is a list of some of the most highly recommended apps that are appropriate for young learners to learn coding skills. Most of them are iPad-based, while others are web-based applications:
Move the Turtle is a great gamified way to learn programming on the iPhone and iPad. The app teaches basic programming/coding concepts to kids of ages 5 years and above. It features a series of challenges based on the Logo programming language. As described by the App store listing “a friendly Turtle will introduce your child step by step to the basic concepts of programming in a colorful graphic environment.” It has a free play “compose” mode that lets students move the turtle wherever they want.
This free iPad app targets the youngest coders and serves as an excellent introduction to programming. In this app, kids manipulate a character named “Daisy” and pass it through different challenges that include loops, events and other basics of programming. This program is very basic and simple to use which is a great benefit for young children. The app also comes with a free-play version with the help of which kids can make Daisy jump in the air or walk backwards at will.
Scratch is a web-based project of MIT that is specifically designed for kids of ages 8 to 16 years. It is one of the first programming languages used by parents and educators all over the world in order to help kids create games, animations and interactive stories using drag-and-drop code blocks. This app actually helps youngsters learn to think creatively and reason systematically.
With GameStar Mechanic, children of ages 7 to 14 years can learn to design their own video games. This is a web-based app that uses fun, game-based quests and courses that help your children learn the techniques of game design and build their own video games. The app also features critical thinking and problem-solving tasks along with a number of game design courses.
After Scratch, the second most recommended tool is Stencyl, which is specifically designed to create games that can be published to any platform including Android, iOS, Flash, Windows, Mac and HTML5. Stencyl isn’t only typical game creation software; it is also an intuitive toolset that speeds up your workflow. Till now, more than 12000 games have been created using Stencyl.
Hopscotch is an iPad programming language that is created from the makers of Daisy the Dinosaur. It is a visual introduction to programming for kids of ages 8 to 12 years. Hopscotch is quite similar to Scratch, as it also uses the same controls to drag blocks into a workspace. Although the controls and characters aren’t as extensive as compared to Scratch, Hopscotch is an amazing app to begin with.