My kids love their tablets and could spend hours on them, if we were not around. So naturally, we looked for apps that can teach them something new and luckily there are plenty of coding apps for kids available. A lot of them are meant for older kids but we only looked for apps for kids under 8.
Wait, why would I want my kids to learn programming? Because coding is everywhere around us – from this blog, to the order you send to Amazon, from the searches you do on Google to the car you’re driving, yes everywhere. Programming skills are in demand.
It is also easier to learn a new skill, a new language for kids while their brain is malleable.
Plus the kids were already using a tablet, so why not make their screen time a bit more educational.
We tried quite a few and here is our list of the best coding apps for kids to learn programming in no particular order.
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Best coding apps for kids under 8 to learn programming
1 | Scratch JR
This was one of our favorite, partly because my four yo daughter could participate.
Kids can let their imagination go wild and create their own interactive story.
It is pretty easy to select a character, an animal, or an object, drag and drop it into the main frame, change the background or add a text. Once you’re happy with the initial setup you start animating the frame, by using the different boxes available. There a lot of options such as time delay, loops, linking frames, movements, etc (see second picture).
We love this free coding app, because:
- The kids can record their own voice to describe what is happening in the box, thanks to the green microphone button.
- They can play with the colors of the character or animal or object they choose as can be seen in the first picture above.
- They can animate and create whatever they want: a game, a story.
- You can access a guide that explains what each box does.
The only thing we didn’t like is that is not possible to export your story in a video format. As we do have an old iPad not compatible with iOS11 we couldn’t use the builtin record option and had to look into other solutions.
Check out this list story we made!!
2 | Daisy Dinosaur
If your kids are into dinosaurs, they will happily try this app.
We only play it with my son as the commands are written down, so the player need to be able to read small words and understand them.
You drag and drop the rectangles available into the main frame, you can choose between move, turn, grow, shrink, jump, roll or spin in the free play version. Once you have a sequence, you press play and watch Daisy follow all the instructions you chose.
Once comfortable with these commands, you can add a repeat and a when condition and start making more advance sequences.
The challenge mode, which teaches children coding concepts, offers 6 levels and kids are asked to make Daisy, move, jump and introduce the conditions.
We like this free coding app for kids because:
- When Daisy is following a particular command, the corresponding rectangle turns pink, so it is easy for kids to follow the sequence and see precisely what they coded.
- It has a dinosaur – it was a good enough reason for my son!
- The When condition is pretty nice, because the child need to do something in order to start the sequence – shaking the iPad or touching Daisy. So again, it is a great way for the kids to learn coding.
We would have loved a version with some icons next to the text so our little one could try it too (instead of randomly selecting the commands).
3 | Kodable
In Kodable, Kids need to help a family of aliens navigate through mazes. This is done by drag and dropping directional, rotational, looping and color changing commands. The difficulty increases all along the levels.
We like this kids coding app because:
- Its innovative way to introduce basic programming concepts – when you choose different members of the family, you can see the different syntax used for each one of them and start getting familiar with coding principles. But younger kids can still enjoy playing even if they can’t read.
- It is a game so kids forget that they are learning something and focus on solving the maze.
We think it’s a good app, but the music can be quite boring and some levels a bit repetitive.
4 | Lightbot – Programming Puzzles
The kids are introduced to programming concepts in this coding app.
A robot needs their help, and kids can make him turn left, right, jump, go backwards, forwards, to light up the blue tiles in the different puzzles.
They can do that by drag and dropping the commands and pressing play.
We like this kids coding app because:
- The commands are shapes and not texts, so easily understood by younger kids. My daughter could try out the first levels.
- It comes with a code hour free version, in case you want to test it and see how your kids respond before buying the paying version.
The first puzzles are fun and become harder the more the kids progress in the app. It was nice but it quickly became a bit too hard for my 6 yo. The procedures are a bit complex for young kids, but if yours love challenges then this app might be a good fit.
5 | SpriteBox
This coding app starts like a regular adventure game, going through mazes and solving puzzles. But at each hurdle, a little fairy appears to help pave the way. The kids need to let the fairy know where to drop the box by using arrows to make her, turn, climb, go down, etc.
Similarly to the other coding apps for kids to learn programming, it is a very good introduction to sequencing fundamentals and programming knowledge.
We like this coding app because:
- My son loves Mario and this game is a bit Mario like + it is quite beautiful.
- There is a nice learning curve through the different levels.
- The app comes with a free code hour version to try the game.
- The difficulty increases gradually, but young kids can still have fun.
Some little hints would have been nice to include, in particular for the most challenging levels.
6 | Hopscotch
In this coding app, kids get to create their own games using a drag and drop interface.
You can start a project from scratch or watch the tutorials available to get inspired.
When you start a project, there is a plus button at the bottom of the screen which allows you to choose a shape, a character, a text or jungle elements that you can move to the big screen. Then you press on the + Add code and start adding rules and commands including sounds.
Although, the app is marked for kids above 9 we decided to give it a try.
We like this app because:
- It is a very good app to learn the basics of programming, you can see that the actions are included in the loops, conditions etc. It is also very good for creative kids and there is a good amount of characters and shapes available.
- You get to publish the game you made, within the community.
- The free version is enough to keep your kids entertained for a while.
We think that this app is great but you should probably wait until your kids are a bit older to consider the In-App Purchases.
7 | Think and Learn: Code-a-Pillar
Very young kids need to help a friendly caterpillar through different puzzles by drag and dropping the right direction arrows.
While this app also introduces sequencing to very young kids, it helps them get familiar with drag and drop, colors, counting.
We like this free coding app because:
- The caterpillar talks and helps the kids understand the instructions.
- The kids also learn counting in the challenges. For instance, the caterpillar asks the kids to feed him the pile of three leaves and the kids need to find the corresponding pile between several piles.
- The levels gradually introduce the different arrows, so the kids have enough time to get use to the first ones before moving on.
This is a great app for kids under 5, but won’t be appealing for older kids.
25 Coding apps for kids under 8 to learn programming
In addition, we put together an infographic to display 25 coding apps for kids to learn programming, sorted by age in case you are after a specific age range.
I hope this list gave you some ideas and that you will give coding apps for kids a try or look for more opportunities to teach children programming. These apps are a good introduction to coding skills while adding gaming, fun and creativity to the kids’ experiences.
Still not convinced, check out this post on why coding is important for kids!
Even if your kids don’t make a career in coding, it can always help them with their problem-solving skills and logical thinking.
Finally, if you are against screen time, but still want to introduce your kids to learn programming, there a several coding games and toys that you should check out:
- Code-a-pillar, the caterpillar from the app 7.
- Think Fun Robot Turtles.
- Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set.
Have you tried any coding apps for kids? Did I miss any great app? Let me know in the comments.
Best coding Apps for Kids – Pin me for later