Even without ambition to raise the next Larry Page, teaching kids to code is quickly becoming part of daily life. And since it’s now on the Key Stage 1 agenda, right there alongside literacy, numeracy and traditional sciences, it makes sense to help them get code literate.
Pattern recognition, problem solving, sequencing, algorithmic thinking and conditional logic may sound heavy duty – but these coding apps make child’s play of learning the fundamentals of programming.
Here is our pick of the best coding apps for the touchscreen generation:
Ages 5- 7
Available for iPad. Android version coming soon.
Following the runaway success of Scratch, its MIT creators released a junior version in August, teaching younger children the core concepts and function of code in an intuitive way, without the need to be able to read or type. Players can create projects by snapping together graphical programming blocks to make the characters jump, dance, move and sing, and create interactive stories and games. You can even add your own voices, sounds and photographs. Nice looking interface and instant gratification make for hours of fun too (within iPad quota).
While the original Scratch remains for many the benchmark for code learning in this age group, Tynker (with nearly 9 million downloads and counting) is hard on its heels. The original puzzle format has now been supplemented with Tynker Workshop functionality for kids to build their own simple games. One 20 level puzzle and the workshop, with ten game kits, come within the free app purchase with further puzzles available as in-app purchases. Tynker is sure to induce tantrums at switch off time.
Free (with in-app purchases)
Available for iPad. No immediate plans for Android roll out.
Award winning Hopscotch teaches children problem solving, critical thinking and the fundamentals of programming while they create animations of breakdancing chimps and follow tutorials to make games like ‘food fight dodgeball’. It encourages children to be as creative digitally as they are in the real world – pretty much whatever they can imagine, they can create. It uses shaking, tilting and even shouting at the iPad to direct characters. They can then share and play their games and animations with Hopscotchers around the world.