Today’s kids are growing up with a whole new language at their fingertips: programming. More students than ever are learning the principles of coding and development through creative games and apps. While they might not be able to whip up an app in C++ or Ruby, they’re learning the basic principles which can be applied to many aspects of their lives. As a result, we’re raising a generation of logical thinkers and strategic problem solvers. Here are just a few groundbreaking coding games and apps that are the favorites of teachers and students across the nation.
Kids used to grow up wanting to be cowboys or princesses, but today they’re aspiring app developers and engineers. In mid-September, Apple launched Swift Playgrounds, which is meant to teach kids how to code using its Swift programming language. Fortunately, parents don’t need a background in coding to appreciate the game and play it with their kids. It’s designed for anyone who lacks a background in coding to learn the fundamentals of functions, object types, and commands.
Swift Playgrounds had been in beta for the past few months, but Apple has made it available in the app store for most of its tablet models, including the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which has the brightest, most advanced Retina display, making it the perfect tool for fun education.
This app is relatively new to the development scene but is becoming a fast favorite for many kids and educators. Tynker includes more than 100 step-by-step developing tutorials and lets kids play multiple games where they use logic and applied lessons to solve problems. Kids can start on the beginner levels with the friendly monsters of Candy Quest or compete in a Hot Wheels obstacle course. Once they’re ready, they can advance to the intermediate levels to play Code Monsters, Debugger, and Lost in Space.
Even if your kids seem to have no interest in programming, they will love the interactive games and will develop important problem-solving skills.
Scratch and ScratchJr
More than 16 million projects have been created and shared through the Scratch website, making it one of the most popular development tools for students. Kids can program their own games or stories, and then receive feedback from the whole community. The top creations can be found on the Scratch homepage, from snail art to braiding tutorials.
The popularity of this site also makes it a useful tool for educators, who can assign projects or let students use it as a multimedia exploration of a subject. Younger kids (below the 8–16 age guideline set for Scratch) can play ScratchJr on their iPads.
Many parents recommend Hopscotch as a good starting point for kids learning programming. Children can create and play games, view tutorials, and build stories with bright colors and steps that walk them through what they want to create. Many of the reviews in the app store say that Hopscotch is easy to use and is incredibly simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. Just because you create a game once doesn’t mean you’re done, it just means you can move on to the next game or wherever your imagination takes you.
Move the Turtle
It’s okay if your kids are more interested in playing than programming. They’re not always going to want to learn through video tutorials and applied puzzles. In fact, some kids just want to push turtles around and help them find special gems. If this is the case with your child, consider buying Move the Turtle.
Through this game, kids learn as they go and use various buttons and commands to get a turtle from one place to another. Kids set up certain commands and can control the speed and direction that the turtle takes. As a reward, they move on to the next level, with coding principles secretly stored in their heads.
Coding is no longer the boring, endless pages of text that most adults think about. Coding is a way of life and a set of rules to live by. Children who grow up with these foundations are better equipped to become problem solvers and smart decision makers, no matter what fields they enter later in their lives.