A short browse through the app store and you quickly realize that there really is an app for everything. While games, streaming videos, and other entertainment apps may get the most attention, there is also a large and varied amount of education apps available. Among these are games and programs that can teach you how to code. We're going to take a look at three coding apps geared towards kids (but can be fun for adults too).
PBS Kids Scratch Jr.
If you have a school aged child you have probably heard of MIT's Scratch programming language. If you haven't, your kids most likely have. It is the most popular language to introduce the concepts of computer science to students 8 and up. PBS Kids Scratch Jr. is designed to teach younger kids ages 5 - 8 and uses popular PBS characters to do so.
This app is completely free to download and does not include any in game purchases.
Scratch Jr is a block-based language. Kids can build programs by connecting blocks that will make a character move, jump, talk, or perform a number of other actions. There are different backgrounds to choose from and the ability to customize the many characters. Kids can start with a black work space or select a premade scene to add to.
PBS provides a video tutorial but its questionable how helpful it could be for young kids. The block guide in the information tab is much more thorough and lists the function of each block in the program.
Creative minded coders and parents who are wary of monetized apps should try PBS Kids Scratch Jr.
Lightbot: Code Hour
Lightbot is an adorable little robot that moves around the board lighting up squares based on the instructions inputted by the user. Lightbot: Code Hour is a smaller demo version of the full app created to Hour of Code. This demo does not include any in game purchases. Each board gets progressively harder and introduces concepts such as functions but the gameplay is the same and can get repetitive. This is a good app if you are looking for a short coding experience.
Take an intergalactic coding journey with Kodable. This app is geared towards kids in Kindergarten through fifth grade. The creators of Kodable have included resources for parents and have made this program feel like a family affair. There is also education support for teachers.
In Kodable, players move fuzzy little creators, aptly called Fuzzes, across the board. Levels progress to include loops, functions, conditions, variables, and object-oriented concepts.
As players level up they unlock new Fuzzes and new looks. Unfortunately, a paid account is required to unlock all of the Fuzzes. However, the cost is only a one time payment of $29. Parents may find that price worth it to keep their kids learning. And there is plenty to learn in this app.