I have one child who LOVES video games, loves, loves, loves. Sometimes he’ll have a great idea for expanding a game, or he’ll find a glitch that he wants to fix. I wanted to encourage him to get behind the screen and learn how to make the games himself. I was officially on the search for a great coding program for kids that would be friendly for beginners but able to keep his attention and grow with him.
I needed something colorful, something kid-friendly, something that can be done on our devices (Kindle Fires, a PC, and a Chromebook), something that was broken up into small pieces, and mostly it had to be something I could afford.
Here are some of the best resources I found, check them out!
Great Coding for Kids Resources
Code Spark Academy with The Foos is a wonderful place for the youngest kids to start, it’s geared for ages 5-10. My son is 9 and used the app on his Kindle Fire. Your kids will love being able to program their own mini games with cute cartoon characters. The Foos is FREE!
Scratch is a step beyond The Foos, designed for ages 8-16. Scratch is a place to design characters and games and share them in a safe and monitored community. Scratch can be played online or off. The possibilities with Scratch are almost endless! Even better, Scratch is FREE!
Khan Academy is well-known in the homeschooling and education world for the amazing and totally free videos to teach people pretty much anything they want to learn. Khan Academy offers so much for the child interested in learning about coding! Start with their FREE series for Hour of Code, and go from there!
When your child is ready for something beyond the drag & drop coding that comprises the programs above, it’s time for something like Bitsbox. Bitsbox is a monthly subscription box (they also have a classroom pack if you can get 30 friends together to share one!) that delivers big fun! Bitsbox is old school by hand coding, meaning your child will copy lines of codes into their computer to make it do things. The really cool thing is that whatever your child does on your computer can be mirrored on any portable device! SO AWESOME! As your child learns to code by hand and manipulate that code, they will start memorizing the code and before you know it your child will be creating apps on their own! Bitsbox is meant for kids ages 6-12 but it’s a great primer for older kids as well. Bitsbox starts at just $20/month.
RPG Maker is a series of software that allows your child to make intricate games and characters. They use the principals of basic coding, like Scratch, and take it a step further. This is a great program for older children and teens as the content can be more mature if they like. RPG Maker offers both free and paid versions of their software and I must warn you that it is a little addictive.
Tynker is a super fun game along the lines of Scratch, but arranged a little differently. Tynker is arranged into individual lessons for three different age levels; ages 7-9, ages 10-12, and ages 12+. Each level has several different courses, from beginner to intermediate. You can buy a monthly membership which starts at $6/month or you can buy individual units (lifetime access to each course is currently $40).
Check out these quick videos of games my kids made with some of the above resources!
A video posted by Meg (@megishappy) on
Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.