Every day, we’re surrounded by technology. As a result, coding has become an important second language for children and adults alike. Parents may find it difficult to teach programming to children if they don’t have any experience themselves. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help parents bridge that gap and provide a great learning experience for their kids.
Today there are many online coding programs for kids that provide the structure needed for kids to learn while being flexible enough to meet the demands of the modern family. Not only are there ample options for kids programming classes, but there are also tons of other free games, apps, and other resources that help kids learn programming skills.
Read on to learn more about how to teach your kids how to code and 46 free resources that can help you along the way.
Why Should Kids Learn Programming?
Learning to program is like learning a new language. Young kids can learn languages faster and easier than adults because their developing brains are made for learning, so childhood is a great time to start learning programming concepts. Learning to program helps kids develop skills that will not only benefit them in school but also help them stand out from the crowd in the job market.
Speaking of programming jobs, did you know that half of the highest-paying jobs in America require some coding knowledge? Not only this, but the demand for programming skills continues to grow. In 10 years it’s estimated that there will be 1.4 million programming jobs available, but there are currently only 400,000 candidates with the right qualifications to fill those positions. This means that there’s a huge supply gap for people with programming skills. Despite this, only 1 in 10 schools currently teaches any programming, meaning it’s up to parents to make sure their children have access to the learning resources they need to develop these skills.
Not convinced yet? See our full list of 26 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn to Code.
How to Choose the Right Coding Classes for Kids
With the myriad of options available to parents these days, it can be difficult to determine which coding program is right for your kid. This decision can be even more daunting for parents that don’t have a background in programming. Fortunately, there are several key indicators that you can use to judge the quality of a coding program and help choose the best option for your child.
Use these indicators to determine what program provides the most value for you and your child. For more insights and tips from industry experts, see our full resource guide Choose the Right Coding Class for Your Kid.
Free Coding For Kids Resources
Free Coding Apps for Kids
CodeKarts (4+; iOS/Android)
A pre-coding game for preschoolers, players learn to develop observational skills, concentration, and logic by guiding a car through various tracks.
CodeSpark Academy (5-9; iOS/Android/ Kindle Fire/Windows)
With over 1,000 fun activities and a simple-to-use interface, CodeSpark Academy is the perfect app to introduce kids ages 5-9 to programming.
Kodable (4-11; iOS/Browser)
Kodable teaches computer science fundamentals through kid-friendly, self-directed lessons. Students get to create and play alongside bright, cute characters.
Organized as a classroom curriculum, each unit includes a teacher’s script, an unplugged activity, an independent practice activity, and some kind of assessment or quiz. Kodable is a great way to take students from block programming and transition to real code.
Scratch Jr. (5-7; iOS/Android/Kindle Fire/ChromeBook)
With ScratchJr., children ages 5-7 can program interactive stories and games to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer.
Move the Turtle (6-12; iOS)
Using visually engaging graphics, kids can implement various programming concepts to direct a virtual turtle and complete unique tasks.
Tynker (7+; iOS/Android/Chromebook)
Tynker is a self-paced online programming course for kids. It’s a coding website for kids created for them to build their own games and apps as well as learn how to program Minecraft mods. Tynker teaches in both block programming and text-based courses.
The programming courses are game-based and space-themed with space aliens and rocket ships. Kids progress through three levels of games/classes for the track that matches their age.
A collection of courses related to the popular Minecraft game teaches kids about mods and skins, how to create mods, and how to build multiplayer Minecraft games. With a paid subscription, kids have access to their own private Minecraft server, providing a safe environment for them to build mods and then play online with their invited friends.
There is no structured curriculum in Tynker, so kids progress at their own pace. It’s great for kids at any stage in learning to code whether they are beginners or advanced.
Swift Playgrounds (8-12; iOS)
Swift is a programming language for developing Apple iOS programs and apps. Especially useful for beginner programmers (even those with no Swift experience) Swift Playgrounds lets kids work at their own paces with visually appealing and educational challenges.
Hopscotch (4-11; iOS)
Create games, art, stories, and more with kid-friendly programming. Kids can program and publish unique creations to Hopscotch’s fully moderated community, where others can play and learn from their creations.
Mimo (15+; iOS)
Mimo puts the power to learn in your child’s hands! With over 23 different courses to choose from and comprehensive lessons, Mimo enables kids of any age to begin programming and advance their skills.
Codea (13+; iOS)
A fully customizable code editor, Codea allows users to introduce all the colors and visual aids they may desire to assist in their programming efforts. It’s a free programming for kids app that lets your child turn thoughts into interactive creations.
Coding Safari (2+; iOS)
With a focus on pre-coding skills like problem-solving, decomposition, and computational thinking, Coding Safari is engaging and educational for children as young as two years old!
Algorithm City (8+; Android)
Algorithm City is a 3D style game where kids can learn the basic concepts of programming, such as command sequencing, functions and loops, and more. Make a character progress by collecting gold and solving levels.
LEGO Boost (7-12+; iOS/Android)
Lego Boost is an app that allows kids to build different Lego models and program them with code. Children can program their models to make sounds and move using drag and drop code.
Daisy the Dinosaur (5-7; iOS)
This app teaches basic programming concepts like sequencing and conditionals in the form of fun little challenges. Make Daisy the dinosaur move, jump, and dance with drag and drop commands as kids experiment and learn.
Run Marco (6-12; iOS)
This game uses simple commands like “move one step forward” and “repeat” to help students learn how to sequence a set of actions. Children will learn to modify their code to complete the task at hand, as well as design their own levels.
SoloLearn: Learn to Code (ages vary; iOS/Android)
Grasshopper (ages vary; iOS/Android)
Rox’s Secret Code (5-8; iOS)
Kids can explore the basic principles of coding with this app by helping Rox, a code whiz, debug a “Chorebot” that was programmed to help clean her room, but begins acting out on its own.
DCoder (ages vary; iOS/Android)
DCoder is a mobile code compiler. This app is meant for more experienced individuals who are looking for fast and easy ways to compile and run their programs on the go!
Free Coding Websites for Kids
Scratch is the platform we use for our elementary school coding program, so we obviously love it. It’s a free block coding website for kids, developed by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch is its own programming language and consists of graphical blocks that snap together.
In addition, Scratch has a large online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. The Scratch platform is designed especially for kids ages 8 to 16. Younger children can also try ScratchJr, a simplified version of Scratch designed for ages 5 to 7.
We use Scratch in our programming curriculum because it’s the perfect way for younger kids to develop their problem-solving, communication, and reasoning skills. It doesn’t teach any real coding language, but it’s a stepping stone to computer programming and coding languages.
Ever heard of robot fighting? Well here is a cool alternative! RoboCode lets kids build a robot in Java or .NET in order to compete against other robots.
Code Monkey is a programming website that teaches kids coding through playful online games. Children write code with the goal of helping a monkey gather bananas. The player works through a series of challenges and eventually learns enough code to be able to build his or her own game.
Code Monkey is made with 1st and 2nd graders in mind, but they also teach younger kids on their Code Monkey Jr. app. You do not need to download an application to play and no coding experience is required. If your child loves a good story, start with Code Monkey.
LightBot lets kids solve puzzles using programming. It’s a puzzle game, based on coding, that secretly teaches you programming logic as you play.
Kids will learn sequencing, overloading, procedures, recursive loops, and conditionals without feeling like they’re learning. The games revolve around a robot and blocks, similar to the popular game Minecraft. LightBot was designed with first-time coders in mind, so it’s simple for beginners.
CodeCombat (6+; Browser)
Players visit the Dungeons of Kithgard where they direct the hero, Anya, by writing code. After successfully completing a level, students move up to more complex tasks and programming. There are multiple worlds and levels to explore to encourage kids to learn more and take on harder coding challenges.
If you are a teacher, Code Combat developers even provide course guides and wikis for your classrooms. They also promise a Course-in-a-Box containing a semester’s worth of course content to add to your curriculum.
This is a resource for students who want to learn a programming language by themselves, but still want the support of an experienced community of people! StackOverflow is a question and answer site meant to answer a diverse range of computer science questions.
Codecademy offers a comprehensive set of text-based courses on web development and related programming languages. Students can pick which language they want to learn and advance through lessons with instant feedback on their code.
General access to Codecademy courses is free. The paid PRO track adds a personalized learning plan, quizzes, projects, and access to live advisors. For kids dreaming about a job in programming, the final project in the paid PRO track covers how to build a professional online portfolio.
Coursera (ages vary)
Offering more than 1,000 courses from 119 institutions, there are a number of free introductory programming courses in various specializations from universities. This lends itself as a very versatile and valuable tool in learning code.
Free Code Camp (ages vary)
edX (ages vary)
Another leading online-learning platform that is open source, edX was founded by Harvard University and MIT, so you can trust you’ll learn cutting-edge skills and theories from the 50+ schools included in their material.
Khan Academy (ages vary)
Each of these courses presents a comprehensive introduction aimed at building a base for professional level skills. There’s also a section called “Meet the Professional” which contains interviews with 11 computer programmers from around the world working in a variety of industries.
Normally Khan Academy presents their courses via video, but for its programming courses, they use “talk-throughs” which are more interactive than a normal video. With a talk-through the student can pause the video and “play” with the code listed on the screen. Talk-throughs are followed by step-by-step coding challenges and projects. Both are designed as programming practice.
Finally, there’s a community programs area (i.e., online forum) where students can share projects, leave comments, and ask questions.
The computer programming courses are most appropriate for high school students and adults, but a tech savvy tween could probably work through them with some mentoring.
Udemy (ages vary)
Udemy is an online learning platform used to improve or learn new skills. With plenty of free programming courses taught via video lessons, such as Python Frameworks, APIs, HTML, CSS, + Payments, this site is a convenient option for advancing your abilities.
Code Avengers (5-12)
Kids work through the lessons, debugging code, and completing challenges before. Code Avengers will automatically track your child’s achievements as they work through lessons and activities. They give you a Parent Dashboard, where you can view your children’s progress through the courses, the projects they’ve created, and the concepts they’ve learned.
When they hit a snag, kids have access to online support and technical support. This live help can be lacking in many other self-paced programs.
AGupieWare (ages vary)
An independent app developer that created a curriculum based on the free courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley and Columbia, this program is broken into 15 courses ranging in complexity and focus. Perfect for anyone looking to expand their qualifications.
GitHub (ages vary)
While this may not be the first site you think of when wanting to learn how to code, it is definitely worth mentioning! GitHub allows students to collaborate on cool projects and look at the projects of other individuals for reference.
MIT Open Courseware (ages vary)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has publicly available courses for a multitude of subjects, including programming. You get the chance to sit in programming classes from a very prestigious university!
Hack.pledge() (ages vary)
Hack Pledge connects mentors and mentees with each other so that young programmers can learn and grow from experienced individuals.
As one of the most popular eLearning platforms out there, BitDegree offers a multitude of fun computer science courses!
CodeWars (ages vary)
In an approach based on the Japanese martial arts practice of kata, the first step in Code Wars is to choose a language and prove your skills. It’s a unique and fun approach to learning and practicing programming skills. It can especially help kids who are trying to master a language or expanding their knowledge of newly learned languages.
Free Coding Activities & More for Kids
Unplugged Activities (ages vary)
If you prefer more hands-on activities, go ahead and try some unplugged activities. This a compilation of different computerless games and paper activities. Plenty of free programming for kids resources here.
Free activities and tutorials, right here at CodeWizardsHQ. Try our Scratch, HTML, and CSS #NowYouCode activities that are perfect for beginners. It’s also a fun way to practice your coding skills and personalize your own games and projects. If you have questions, we’re ready to help in our STEM, Coding, and Robotics Facebook group.
GoalKicker (ages vary)
Do you like learning through reading? Then check out GoalKicker! GoalKicker collects a ton of free programming books so that anyone can read about different programming languages and ideologies.
As a volunteer-led community of free programming workshops for kids, CoderDojo teaches programming to young, interested, individuals in multiple locations around the United States.
IDE (ages vary)
An integrated development environment is a must-have for people learning how to code. Whether the IDE be BlueJ, Eclipse, or Microsoft Visual Studio, kids will have an easy way to debug, compile, and run their code.
Hackathons (ages vary)
There are plenty of hackathons all over the world that are not only free, but give you the chance to learn programming skills from experienced mentors, support you through your journey of bringing your cool coding idea into fruition, give you swag, and give you free food!
CodeWizardsHQ: The Ultimate Coding Class for Kids
If you want more support and a structured curriculum while learning to code, see the online coding classes for kids that we offer here at CodeWizardsHQ. We’ve adopted a blended method to teach kids programming principles and practices using a combination of small, online teacher-led classes delivered and build-as-you-learn projects.
Kids can start in elementary school with block-based programming and advance to front and back end coding languages in high school. Every student has direct access to a teacher who is an experienced programmer. The instruction and projects are all web-based, so students can attend CodeWizardsHQ from any place where there is a reliable internet connection.