With the Hour of Code quickly approaching, it got us here at Teach Starter thinking about coding for kids.
The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. It started back in 2013 and was meant to promote computer science during Computer Science Education Week and to show that anybody can learn the basics of computer science. Since then it has become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. This year the Computer Science Education Week is December 9-15, 2019. That means your one hour of coding with your students can fall anywhere within this week!
Do you want your students to participate in the Hour of Code but have no idea about coding? Well, don’t worry! We have you covered with 13 coding apps you can use with your students in your classroom!
Current Coding Apps for Kids
In this episode, Taylor shares her story of how she managed to nab the position of Digital Technologies Specialist as well as when her love of digital technologies started. To help classroom teachers, she also shares some of the top coding apps that she uses in her tech classroom.
(1) Scratch Jnr App
This coding app is great for the lower grades and a great way to introduce block coding to kids.
Block coding is a great way to start off coding. They move on to text-based coding and stuff like that much later, but block coding is quite easy to get a grasp on. – Taylor
To extend, Scratch 3, although not an app, is a website that can be a great way to extend on the Scratch Jnr App.
This is a super cute app that is again suitable for the lower grades. In this app, students have mazes and games that will get your students thinking through solutions to problems! If the commands are correct, the Code-a-pillar will reach the target. If they aren’t, it will stop and your students must fix the mistake. It’s all about sequencing and directions.
I find that such a massive misconception for young students is once you’ve programmed a couple of steps, you need to pick the robot up and put it back or the trial will fail and that seems to be difficult to move past.
So, what does Taylor recommend? She has her students write down their code first on a mini whiteboard. That way, if the robot has performed the wrong action they’ll go back and check the code first.
A coding adventure around the world awaits your students with this super cool app! Suitable for upper elementary and middle school students, students use visual instructions to guide Marco and Sophia (cute cartoon characters) through a series of different levels as they try to discover themselves.
(4) Code Karts App
This app introduces pre-coding skills to children from ages four and up. So another one for little hands! This super cool car-inspired app is set on a racetrack. Code Karts teaches kids to code by navigating a race car around a track to get to the finish line.
Direction bricks are what the students use to show the car’s path.
Taylor really likes this app – “It’s focusing on text-based coding, so it’s moving on from block coding.” In this kid-friendly app, students need to solve puzzles to learn the basics of using Swift. There are a number of challenges the students then need to investigate. So, not only does it help your students with the basics – but, it also consolidates their knowledge – all in one app!
Teachers can use robots or the app’s own graphics.
“…for those people that aren’t resourced with robotics, they have a little graphic, it’s super cute and you have to program him to collect the coin or the star or something like that and then get to the end journey.”
(6) Tynker App
The Tynker app is huge! In fact, they claim to be the number one kids coding platform! So, there’s no surprise that the Tynker app appears in this list of must-have coding apps for the classroom. This app includes step-by-step tutorials that teach kids coding in a fun and enjoyable way.
Students learn to code by playing puzzles and games, use block coding to create their own games, learn sequencing and pattern recognition, all while collecting candy and much much more.
Well, Minecraft is very popular among kids, and now with this education edition, you can utilize this passion for Minecraft safely in the classroom environment.
This education edition brings the creative and game-ified environment of Minecraft to classrooms, empowering educators to use game-based learning. The possibilities for learning are endless with this app – not just coding, but much much more.
This is a fantastic app that is a visual drag and drop programming tool that was developed by Google. It allows your students to snap together commands like puzzle pieces, as well as take on coding challenges and even invent their own creations by using Blockly to control Dash & Dot!
Kids will learn concepts such as sequencing, events, loops, algorithms, operations, etc. You will need a Wonder Workshop Robot – Dash or Dot robot for this app.
(9) Micro:bit App
This app is used in conjunction with the Micro:bit – a small piece of tech that can be programmed to do a number of nifty things. This neat little device encourages kids to learn basic coding and programming skills.
The app provides another element of online access to help students program their micro:bit.
This super cute animal themed pre-coding game is perfect to help kids learn the fundamentals of coding. Your students will be presented a series of logical problems to solve! Your students will learn:
- the fundamentals of computational thinking
- foundations of coding
(11) Fix the Factory
A cool new puzzle game from LEGO featuring a cool humanoid robot. A great app for students to learn the basics of programming by setting the instructions for the robot to follow. The game is packed with fun sound effects, challenging puzzles, cool robot functions, great level designs, and a funky robotic soundtrack.
(12) Bee-Bot App (FREE)
This is another freebie that you don’t need the actual Bee-Bot robot to use in the classroom. This app helps improve students’ directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backward, left, and right.
I found that to be a really, really good app. – Taylor
An award-winning coding curriculum for kids aged 4-10.
In this super cute app, students explore the technomazes of Smeeborg, the asteroid fields of Asteroidia, and the slime-infested plains of Bug World all while learning important computer science concepts.
We hope this collection of apps has inspired you to check out the many cool ways you can include the teaching of coding and tech in your classroom during the Hour of Code Week this year! With a lot of these apps being free – it’s worth checking them out, especially because they have been approved by a technology teacher.