Top Pick

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 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 lessons in your classroom, check out our Teaching Strategies for how to Get Started With Coding in Your Classroom.

Block-Based Programming

Code.org Visit Website: http://www.code.org
Popular games, big names get kids and teachers pumped to program
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Scratch Visit Website: http://scratch.mit.edu/
Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Itch Visit Website: https://www.itchcode.com/
Full-featured tool makes teaching with Scratch easier than ever
Grades 1-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Codemoji Visit Website: https://www.codemoji.com
Emoji-based coding tool demystifies web design and animation
Grades 2-8
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Tickle Publisher: Tickle Labs
Robots, Arduinos, and drones -- the block coding app to rule them all
Grades 2-8
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
SPRK Lightning Lab - Programming for Sphero Robots Publisher: Orbotix Inc.
Cool robots and creative play make programming irresistible
Grades 3-8
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Tynker Visit Website: http://www.tynker.com/
Cute, colorful coding platform caters to strong independent readers
Grades 3-8
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Google CS First Visit Website: https://www.cs-first.com
Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools
Grades 4-8
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Made with Code Visit Website: https://www.madewithcode.com/
Enticing projects and inspiring videos offer anyone an intro to coding
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Cargo-Bot Publisher: Two Lives Left
Challenging game helps kids learn to think like programmers
Grades 5-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad
Common Sense says
Teachers say
GameMaker: Studio Publisher: YoYo Games Ltd.
One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Appinventor.org Visit Website: http://www.appinventor.org/
Great mobile app creation site has solid teacher resources
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Human Resource Machine Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation
Addictive, unique way to supplement coding instruction
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $4.99 (app), $9.99 (Steam)
Platforms iPhone, Linux, Mac, Wii U, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Lightbot - Programming Puzzles Publisher: LightBot Inc.
Simple design, but challenging fun for budding programmers
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Thunkable Visit Website: https://thunkable.com/#/
Build a working iOS or Android app, even without coding experience
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
GameSalad Publisher: GameSalad, Inc.
Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Text-Based Programming

Codesters Visit Website: https://www.codesters.com/
Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences
Grades 4-8
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
CodeCombat Publisher: CodeCombat
Dungeon-crawling adventure where code is king
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Code Monkey Visit Website: http://www.playcodemonkey.com/
Puzzler's use of real code fills niche in crowded learn-to-code genre
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Mozilla Thimble Visit Website: https://thimble.mozilla.org/
Inspiring platform teaches coding through remixing
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Swift Playgrounds Publisher: Apple
Fun, intuitive iOS-coding app great for newbies or pros
Grades 4-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Mozilla X-Ray Goggles Visit Website: https://goggles.webmaker.org/
Remix tool reveals code, can strengthen kids' understanding of the web
Grades 5-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Code Avengers Visit Website: http://www.codeavengers.com/
Challenging puzzles teach with real code; best for more advanced kids
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Codecademy Visit Website: http://www.codecademy.com
Terrific hands-on coding practice with live feedback
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Construct 2 Publisher: Scirra
Standout, pro-caliber game-dev tool still great for novices
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Codea Publisher: Two Lives Left
Well-thought-out coding platform for real game programming
Grades 8-12
Type App
Price $14.99
Platforms iPad
Common Sense says
Teachers say