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Best Coding Tools for Elementary

These elementary-level tools help kids learn to code by targeting the foundations of programming: problem-solving, logic, and critical thinking. Some of the tools on this list focus on simple, block-based coding, while others use real text-based languages; a few of the tools even incorporate both to help kids with the transition to more advanced projects. By learning these skills through the context of code, kids build essential 21st-century skills for life that empower them to become creators, not just consumers, of the technology. 

If you're looking to begin coding lessons in your classroom, check out our Teaching Strategies for how to Get Started with Coding in Your Classroom.

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Block- and Text-Based Code

Root Coding

First-rate versatile robot for all ages

Bottom line: By encouraging artistic design and creative problem-solving, Root Coding fits right into your STEAM curriculum.

Kodable

Fun procedural reasoning for kids; great curriculum for teachers

Bottom line: Kodable is a fun way for elementary school students to understand coding and contains impressive supports for teachers.

Code.org

Popular games, big names get kids and teachers pumped to program

Bottom line: A well-planned, -produced, and -curated set of free resources bound to get kids hooked on learning to code.

SpriteBox Coding

Appealing puzzle game reinforces essential coding concepts

Bottom line: This well-designed game introduces basic coding syntax and is best used for practice.

Code for Life

Comprehensive coding platform has impressive resources for teachers

Bottom line: This learn-to-code program has the breadth and depth required to meet the needs of almost any teacher.

Sphero Edu

Cool robots and creative play make programming irresistible

Bottom line: Hub for Sphero robots draws crafty kids who love making into coding, and it empowers them to be collaborators.

Tynker

Cute, colorful coding platform caters to strong independent readers

Bottom line: Students will be empowered by custom-coding creations for a variety of platforms, but may need some reading support to complete lessons.

Microsoft MakeCode

Bring code to life with circuits, robots, Minecraft, and more

Bottom line: Once you purchase the hardware, MakeCode opens doors to an incredible diversity of coding applications.

Codesters

Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences

Bottom line: The well-designed Python lessons and user interface make this a great choice for serious coding instruction.

Block-Based Code

Blue-Bot

Simple robot ideal for introducing programming to young learners

Bottom line: Students will develop logical and sequential thinking with Blue-Bot, creating a foundation for future coding activities.

Tynker Junior

Picture-based coding app piques early learners' interest

Bottom line: Early coders will enjoy the colorful interface and variety of activities as they progress through different worlds and develop foundational programming skills.

ScratchJr

Drag-and-drop programming is an effective intro for budding coders

Bottom line: With a little adult help, this is a rich platform for getting kids into programming and digital creation.

Codeable Crafts

Animate stories with accessible drawing tools and coding blocks

Bottom line: Kids get a simple peek at computer programming principles by animating stories using code blocks.

Blockly for Dash & Dot Robots

Adorable robots teach hands-on coding skills

Bottom line: You can program robots with code blocks, with plenty of creative options and lots of fun.

Cork the Volcano - Puzzlets

Fun elementary coding through hands-on puzzle tiles

Bottom line: Programming that combines engaging physical puzzle tiles with digital gameplay.

Path for Dash Robot

Impressive intro to programming and robotics grows with students

Bottom line: Fun activities will hook kids; more advanced applications will continue to challenge them.

Itch

Full-featured tool makes teaching with Scratch easier than ever

Bottom line: Here you'll find resources for teaching with Scratch and a complete management tool to support student learning.

Scratch

Creative sandbox opens the door to coding in any subject area

Bottom line: Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning.

Codemoji

Emoji-based coding tool demystifies web design and animation

Bottom line: Emoji-based lessons engage and empower kids to explore web design and animation, with instant website creation.

Evo by Ozobot

Versatile mini robot tailor-made for teaching coding

Bottom line: Evo encourages students to be creative, emphasizing that coding is a tool in your pocket, not the end game.

Hopscotch: Coding for kids

Easy-to-use visual tool makes programming fun for kids

Bottom line: Hopscotch is a great tool for introducing kids to programming, but it's just a starting point.

Cozmo

A little robot with big personality brings code to life

Bottom line: From Cozmo's engaging personality to endless programming possibilities, this little robot will capture your heart and spark imagination.

SAM Labs

Kids use block code and wireless blocks to program, design, and create

Bottom line: With some perseverance, it's a great fit for PBL and STEAM, helping students learn programming skills and engineering concepts through invention.

Tickle

Robots, Arduinos, and drones -- the block coding app to rule them all

Bottom line: Impressive tool for introducing block coding and robotics on a ton of devices.

Kodu Game Lab

Open-ended game design and programming tool for visual thinkers

Bottom line: The 3D game-making environment and fun, visual logic will definitely grab some students, but others will need support the game just doesn't provide.

Google CS First

Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools

Bottom line: If your middle school doesn't have a CS program or club, now you do!

Human Resource Machine EDU

Challenging puzzles will grab the imagination of any coding enthusiast

Bottom line: For teachers with some coding background, this is a great game-based tool for learning to code.

Made with Code

Enticing projects and inspiring videos offer anyone an intro to coding

Bottom line: Solid intro to coding with diverse projects geared toward tween/teen girls; sets foundation to explore deeper level coding and logic activities.

Cargo-Bot

Challenging game helps kids learn to think like programmers

Bottom line: Cargo-Bot is a simple concept that packs a challenging punch and teaches valuable programming skills.

Text-Based Code

CodeCombat

Dungeon-crawling adventure where code is king

Bottom line: While not everyone loves fighting ogres, CodeCombat offers a classroom-ready platform and an authentic learning experience.

CodeMonkey

Puzzler's use of real code fills niche in crowded learn-to-code genre

Bottom line: A great intro to coding that, with solid teacher support, gets students using real programming languages and digging into meatier concepts than with other early coding tools.

Swift Playgrounds

Brilliantly designed iOS coding app great for newbies or pros

Bottom line: If iPad devices are available, this is an inspired choice for learning how to create and tweak code.

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