Most children, by the age of 7, will already have an interest in coding, which we can foster. Many of them will like playing games and will ask questions such as “How can I make him go faster / jump higher / turn around?”. Given the chance, they like designing avatars or changing the colours of images they are working with or just enjoy controlling in some way what happens on their screens.
Melanie Pinola says “The best apps for the youngest children are centered more on graphics and simple animations than the actual code itself. While most of these types of game-like educational apps are rated for ages 8+, if your kid is old enough to read, understand cause and effect, and motivated, you can introduce the games below to even pre-K learners.”
We have tried out a number of apps (most of which are iPad based, simply because that’s what we have) and most are free. Here are our favourites:
Daisy the Dinosaur ( free):
Children manipulate Daisy through challenges that involve loops, events, and other programming basics (e.g., when touched, move dinosaur forward). It’s a very stripped-down, basic program, but the simplicity is a big plus for young kids. There’s a free-play version in this app as well, so you can make Daisy jump in the air or walk backwards at will. (The novelty of this, however, wears off as soon as kids discover the stellar kids’ animation tool Toontastic, which doesn’t teach code logic, but rather storytelling basics).
Have just discovered Cargo-bot. Well worth a try. The premise is simple. Move crates from one side of the screen to the other. The execution, however, is less simple. It starts off easy with some in-app prompts, but soon gets more complicated and requires you to think like a programmer to complete your task in hand.