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Best Coding Tools for Middle School

Middle school is a perfect time to get students coding, but by then, students might be at different levels of familiarity. We've hand-picked these tools so that students at every level of knowledge and achievement will find something useful, from more visual, building block-style coding tools great for beginners to advanced courses and tutorials that get students learning and using real languages to make apps, websites, and games. Whether students are playing a simple logic-based game or writing scripts to create the next big app, these tools are sure to get students thinking about what sort of language goes into the technology they use every day.

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

Block- and Text-Based Code

Code.org

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

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

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

Tynker

Approachable, powerful coding curriculum covers much ground, provides support

Bottom Line: Tynker empowers students of all ages and experience levels to create custom coding projects for a variety of platforms.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free to try

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.

Grades: 1–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 5–8
Price:
Free to try

Machine Learning for Kids

Authentic AI-powered projects make kids' creations feel like magic

Bottom Line: It takes a topic that would be difficult to teach in any practical way and makes it accessible for the classroom.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

micro:bit

Code games or fun displays with mini piece of hardware

Bottom Line: This versatile tool for learning how to program with blocks or text is a nice fit for STEM classes and clubs.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Block-Based Code

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.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 1–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

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.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Free to try

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.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Free, Paid

Google CS First

Middle school CS curriculum has stellar resources, room for creativity

Bottom Line: A high-quality introductory CS curriculum where students can be creative, collaborate with others, and express themselves, in the classroom or at home.

Grades: 4–8
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–10
Price:
Paid

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.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

Algo Bot

Simple coding game a fun intro to algorithms

Bottom Line: This coding game is a fun and helpful introduction to basic algorithm development, but other resources will be needed for more depth.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

Appinventor.org

Great, free mobile app creation site has solid teacher resources

Bottom Line: A fantastic and complete introduction to programming concepts and app creation.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Lightbot : Programming Puzzles

Simple design, but challenging fun for budding programmers

Bottom Line: Challenging programming game best for motivated learners.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

The Pack - NYSCI

Deceptively gentle coding game really packs a problem-solving punch

Bottom Line: This gorgeous, immersive programming game encourages novel solutions.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Thunkable

Build a working iOS or Android app, even without coding experience

Bottom Line: Fun, practical way to get kids programming, though teachers will need a clear plan to support them in the process.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

GameMaker

One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers

Bottom Line: Provides teachers with the best choice for a full unit or class on game design, and gives students a tool to help them realize their game-making dreams.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free, Paid

7 Billion Humans

Amusing puzzler challenges kids, teaches programming principles

Bottom Line: This high-quality puzzle game is a fun way for students to learn effective and efficient programming skills.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

GameSalad

Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap

Bottom Line: This engaging platform will empower budding game designers, but the price tag could be a deal-breaker for tight school budgets.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free to try

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.

Grades: K–8
Price:
Free to try

Swift Playgrounds

Brilliantly designed iOS coding app great for newbies or pros

Bottom Line: If you have iPads or Macs, this is an inspired choice for learning how to create and tweak code.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

Unity Learn

Complete game creation curriculum gives students real-world experience

Bottom Line: It's a slick, fun, and effective way to get students building games right away, with plenty of room for depth.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Zulama

Teach a vast number of CS concepts with quality, depth, and choice

Bottom Line: Zulama will help any middle or high school implement a comprehensive computer science program.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Code Avengers

Challenging puzzles teach with real code; best for more advanced kids

Bottom Line: A superb programming tutor, well worth the effort to keep students going.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try

Construct 3

Ideal 2D game builder supports students to create, innovate

Bottom Line: Limitless game options, reasonable cost, and extensive support make this programming environment perfect for an educational setting.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try

Codecademy

Excellent text-based coding site a great way to learn real-world skills

Bottom Line: For both introductory and higher skill levels, it teaches the breadth and depth of skills for programming careers.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free to try

Hardware and Offline Elements

Unruly Splats

Game-making platform fuses coding and physical play

Bottom Line: This platform could appear gimmicky at first, but in practice it blends SEL, movement, collaboration, and STEM learning in clever, compelling ways.

Grades: 1–8
Price:
Paid

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.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Free, Paid

KOOV

Robotics kit makes design possibilities virtually limitless

Bottom Line: For schools with healthy budgets, KOOV helps kids design and code interactive robots with blocks, sensors, and imagination.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Paid

Kai's Clan

Innovative STEAM package takes robot coding to the next level

Bottom Line: A nearly perfect spin on STEAM coding that combines a bunch of technologies into one, and effectively fuses the real and virtual worlds.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

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