STEM and CODING PROJECTS

STEM.JPG

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 coding classes, but there are also tons of other free games, apps, and other resources that help kids learn programming skills. 

Although some of these applications teach a specific language, most focus more on introducing the logic of coding. Kids learn fundamental concepts like loops, “if-then” statements, variables, and conditionals with the help of fun characters and bright colors.

What’s great about applications: they are conveniently located wherever your phone or tablet is. Through riddles, puzzles, and free play, kids also learn “soft” skills, like resilience, problem-solving, and patience. These coding apps help kids gain confidence by empowering them with positivity and fun.

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game_code-carts.jpg

Platform: iOS & Android
Pricing: Free + In-app purchase of $1.99
Ages: 3-5, PreSchool – KG

If your child loves race cars, then Code Karts is the game for them. Players guide colorful race cars around a track with drag-and-drop code. Meant for preschoolers, this game does not require any reading skills. The first 10 levels, which are free, can be beat with simple color matching. An additional $1.99 will get you 60 more levels that increase in difficulty and require progressively more coding knowledge. This game also offers a racing mode. Players can test their coding speed by racing another car around the track.

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Lightbot-logo-e1523897934230.png

Platform: iOS & Android
Cost: $2.99
Ages: 4-13+, KG to 9th Grade +  

Help a cute animated robot light up cubes in Lightbot. Lightbot offers three games: Programming Puzzles, Code Hour, and JR. Programming Puzzles is the main game, which costs $2.99.

Code Hour is the hour-long trial game, which is free. JR is $2.99 and for younger kids, ages 4 to 8. Lightbot JR is simple and age appropriate, but Programming Puzzles and Code Hour are notoriously challenging. It’s easy to get stuck on the puzzles, even for adults. So if your child is breezing through the other apps, this one is bound to give their brain a workout.

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game_scratch-jr.jpg

Platform: iPad & Android tablet
Cost: Free
Ages: 5-7, KG – 2nd Grade

Scratch is similar to another coding app for kids on this list, Hopscotch. It is an open world where kids can create their own designs and use drag-and-drop code to create games and animations. The app is only available in Scratch JR, for younger kids.

The mobile version, for older kids, is in development. Semi-customizable characters can be programmed to move, jump, dance, and sing. Kids can even record their own voices to use in the animation. Scratch JR allows young children to be creative and artistic while also learning about sequences and problem-sol

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SCRATCH.JPG

Platform: iPad & Android tablet
Cost: Free
Ages: 8 - 16+, 2nd Grade - 8th Grade+

Scratch is a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically.  Younger children may want to try ScratchJr,

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Daisy-the-Dinosaur.jpg

Platform: iPad
Cost: Free
Ages: 5-7, KG – 2nd Grade

Daisy the Dinosaur is a great coding app for kids from the creators of Hopscotch (also on this list). Kids drag-and-drop commands in a simple interface to make an adorable dinosaur move, jump, and dance. The cute female dinosaur appeals to both girls and boys.

Daisy the Dinosaur teaches basic coding concepts like sequencing and conditionals in the form of fun little challenges. It also offers a “free play” mode. The app is targeted to kids too young for the Hopscotch app. 4-year-olds can understand it, but the instructions are written and not spoken, so reading assistance from parents may be needed. Meanwhile, older kids may find it too easy and beat the game in 10 minutes.

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kodable.jpg

Platform: iPad
Cost: Free
Ages: 5-7, KG – 2nd Grade

Daisy the Dinosaur is a great coding app for kids from the creators of Hopscotch (also on this list). Kids drag-and-drop commands in a simple interface to make an adorable dinosaur move, jump, and dance. The cute female dinosaur appeals to both girls and boys.

Daisy the Dinosaur teaches basic coding concepts like sequencing and conditionals in the form of fun little challenges. It also offers a “free play” mode. The app is targeted to kids too young for the Hopscotch app. 4-year-olds can understand it, but the instructions are written and not spoken, so reading assistance from parents may be needed. Meanwhile, older kids may find it too easy and beat the game in 10 minutes.

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Spritebox.jpg

Platform: iOS & Android
Cost: Free for Code Hour, $2.99/$3.99 for Spritebox
Ages: 5-7+, KG – 2nd Grade +

Spritebox, from the makers of Lightbot (also on this list), is a 2D Super Mario-esque game that gradually teaches kids actual code. Kids switch from drag-and-drop pictures to syntax over many levels and challenges, while completing a narrative adventure.

Spritebox is beautifully designed with soft colors and watercolor-like landscapes, and a customizable avatar. 

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Box-Island.jpg

Platform: iOS & Android
Cost: Free + In-app purchases of $2.99 to $7.99
Ages: 5-10, KG – 5th Grade

Despite the main character being just a box with a face, this game has impressive visual graphics. The colorful 3D animation, coupled with the narrative, feels more like an actual video game than many of its 2D competitors.

There’s nothing very unique about the drag-and-drop game play, but it’ll do the trick for teaching your kids problem-solving and basic coding logic. Be warned that the first 10 levels are free, but you’ll need to pay to unlock all 100 levels. You can’t use the same account on multiple devices, or add multiple users.

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CodeSpark-Academy.png

Platform: iOS & Android
Cost: Free + In-app purchases of $7.99 to $119.99
Ages: 5-10, KG – 5th Grade

Codespark is a coding app for kids similar in design to Super Mario World’s colorful 2d landscapes. Kids use drag-and-drop code blocks to move cute characters, known as “The Foos”, through their world in pursuit of different prizes.

Each level in CodeSpark is different from the last. With the monthly subscription, there’s often new content to keep things interesting. In CodeSpark, players are rewarded extra gold stars for being maximally efficient in their code writing, an important skill that many coding games gloss over.

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game_Tynker.jpg
10. Tynker

Platform: iPad & Android tablet
Cost: Free + In-app purchases from $1.99 to $95.99
Ages: 6-10, 1st Grade – 5th Grade

The Tynker app is part of a larger web-based learning system and elementary school curriculum. This coding app for kids is great for home use. Like others, this app teaches kids coding concepts through drag-and-drop puzzles.

Similar to Hopscotch, it allows kids to create their own apps and animations and share them with an online community. It also incorporates Minecraft, a game that a lot of kids are already familiar with. The app mimics actual code a little more than most. The learning system eventually teaches kids Javascript, Swift, and Python. You can play some levels for free, purchase additional levels, or purchase the whole pa

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Dash-and-Dot.jpg

Platform: iOS & Android
Cost: Free + $149.99 for Dash
Ages:  6-10, 1st Grade – 5th Grade

There are several apps on this list that control robots. With multiple games and tons of accessories, Dash and Dot may be the best value. Dash, in particular, is very versatile. It looks more like a toy than app-controlled robots Cozmo and Sphero.

One interesting feature is the option to start with sounds and timers, in addition to hitting the start button. The robots remember their programming, even after the app has been shut off. However, this app is compatible with a limited number of devices at the moment. Make sure yours is on their list.

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game_Swift-Playgrounds.jpg

Platform: iPad
Cost: Free
Ages: 10-13+, 5th Grade – 9th Grade +

Swift Playgrounds is a collection of coding games for kids, created by Apple, that teach Swift, a programming language used to build apps. Swift is Apple’s coding language, but several other apps on this list also teach it.

In the main game, players guide a cute character through challenges in a colorful 3D world. The coding app for kids also offers other coding games. The game integrates with other apps, and even controls non-Apple robots and drones like Lego, and even Sphero and Dash (also on this list).

This is a great way to ease your pre-teen into real text-based code, without completely foregoing the cute characters and games.