These coding programs and apps help students develop programming skills–and they’re free

Coding1Educators and stakeholders agree that computer science skills are some of the most in-demand skills in today’s workforce, and encouraging students’ interest in coding and computer programming in early grades can help foster interest in computer science as students enter college.

Some of the following resources or apps are designed for older students, and others are aimed at children and beginning coders.

Do you have a favorite coding tool or resource? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below.

(Next page: Free coding apps and tools)

Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where students teach a robot how to move crates.
Program characters to move, draw, and collide with each other, and use shaking, tilting, or even shouting at the iPad to control them. Hopscotch was inspired by MIT’s Scratch and gives kids a creative way to learn the fundamentals of coding and computer programming.
Codecademy: Hour of Code
Students can learn how to build things online by programming with Codecademy. The app introduces users to the basic concepts behind the apps on their phone and the websites they visit. They’ll learn to understand the basic structure of code when they see it.
Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a student’s first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to learn fundamental coding concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects.
Hackety Hack will teach users the absolute basics of programming from the ground up. No previous coding experience is needed. With Hackety Hack, students learn the Ruby programming language. Ruby is used for all kinds of programs, including desktop applications and websites.
This site offers free programming lessons in JavaScript, Python, and Ruby. Activities are completely web-based with more than 100 exercises in each course.
Mozilla Thimble
Thimble makes it ridiculously simple to create and share your own web pages. Write and edit HTML and CSS right in your browser, then instantly preview your work. Host and share your finished projects with a single click. Perfect for beginners and experts alike. web-based code editor, part of the company’s recently unveiled “Webmakers” project. Thimble is designed to give novice webmakers an easy-to-use online tool to quickly build and share webpages.
Tynker helps children develop computational thinking and coding skills in a fun, visual, intuitive, and imaginative way. Tynker is used in over 8,000 schools to teach computer programming. More than 6 million kids have started coding with Tynker. Students can solve fun puzzles and learn to code. Simply drag & drop visual code blocks and program characters to beat the level. Additional adventures and puzzle levels are available as in-app purchases.
With Scratch, students can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations. They can share their creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
Daisy the Dinosaur
This free coding app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Students will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops, and events by solving the app’s challenges. After playing Daisy, kids can choose to download a kit to program their own computer game.
Code Monster
Code Monster, from Crunchzilla, is an interactive tutorial for kids that focuses on action. Code changes immediately yield visible results. Projects start with simple boxes and colors, rapidly progressing into exciting experiments with simple animation and fractals. Important programming concepts like variables, loops, conditionals, expressions, and functions are introduced by example.
Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The visual nature of the language allows for rapid design iteration using only an Xbox game controller for input (mouse/keyboard input is also supported).

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