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

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Block-Based Programming

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.

Scratch

Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool

Bottom Line: With plenty of time and support, Scratch can help kids of all ages learn essential programming concepts.

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.

Codemoji

Emoji-based coding tool demystifies web design and animation

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

GameMaker Studio 2

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.

Appinventor.org

Great mobile app creation site has solid teacher resources

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

Human Resource Machine

Addictive, unique way to supplement coding instruction

Bottom Line: A novel way to learn programming that will require student collaboration and extra adult support.

Lightbot : Programming Puzzles

Simple design, but challenging fun for budding programmers

Bottom Line: Challenging programming game best for motivated learners.

Thunkable

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

Bottom Line: A great way to help motivated students create real apps, though others will need more support.

GameSalad

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

Bottom Line: Engaging interface and tutorials will empower budding game designers, but the price tag could be a deal-breaker for tight school budgets.

Text-Based Programming

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.

CodeCombat

Dungeon-crawling adventure where code is king

Bottom Line: While not the first to blend coding with play, CodeCombat offers a stable, engaging, and accessible model.

CodeMonkey

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

Bottom Line: A great intro to coding, with solid teacher support, gets kids using a real programming language and digging into some meatier concepts than other early coding tools.

Mozilla Thimble

Inspiring platform teaches coding through remixing

Bottom Line: Thimble is an excellent, free resource for teaching students to code through experimentation.

Swift Playgrounds

Fun, intuitive iOS-coding app great for newbies or pros

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

Mozilla X-Ray Goggles

Remix tool reveals code, can strengthen kids' understanding of the web

Bottom Line: It's a blast to use and an easy way to get experimentation and prototyping going with plenty of student choice -- kids are really in the driver's seat!

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.

Codecademy

Terrific hands-on coding practice with live feedback

Bottom Line: In this excellent coding application, in-game practice and real-time guidance crack open the world of programming and turn your students into whiz kids.

Construct 2

Standout, pro-caliber game-dev tool still great for novices

Bottom Line: Robust enough for commercial games yet simple enough for a classroom with proper support, this is a stellar tool for game creation that lowers the barrier of entry without sacrificing depth.

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