Review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2018

Code.org

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

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math
  • Science

Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K–12
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (103 Reviews)
Privacy (See details)

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Pros: Focused and engaging activities allow students to work at their own pace and stay challenged.

Cons: Without guidance, students might choose activities at random instead of following the scaffolded curriculum.

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

If you're a curious beginner, start with the short, engaging Hour of Code tutorials. There are even unplugged (no computer needed) activities that teach coding concepts in the physical world. The Hour of Code tutorials are similar to the activities included in the CS Fundamentals curriculum. If you already have a coding curriculum but are looking to supplement it with some real-world experience, send students to the App Lab, Web Lab, and Play Lab, where they can design and share apps, websites, and games, respectively. Students can also play and remix games designed by other students, which is a great option for students who need some creative inspiration.

If you're an elementary teacher looking to integrate coding into your classroom or a secondary computer science (CS) teacher preparing for a new semester, take a look at Code.org's courses. Free and comprehensive, the curriculum includes detailed lesson plans, videos, handouts, offline activities, and online tutorials. Code.org's curriculum is a good mix of online independent practice, unplugged group activities, and discussion. Using the teacher dashboard, you can assign lesson activities, monitor progress, and set sharing permissions. Teachers can get their own training on-site, too, plus a free in-person professional learning program.

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Code.org is a website dedicated to K-12 computer science (CS) instruction, from coursework to advocacy. The site is geared toward increasing diversity in computer science, preparing new CS teachers, adding computer science to school curricula, and helping to set up policies that support computer science. Code.org offers five free CS courses, from the 14-lesson Pre-reader Express to CS Principles, a yearlong AP-level course. The curriculum addresses concepts both offline and online and leads students through progressively more difficult lessons. Students age 13+ can access all of the coursework independently, though the courses are designed to be facilitated by a teacher.

In addition, the site includes short tutorials to pique students' interest in programming as part of the Hour of Code initiative. Students watch video instructions delivered by famous programmers, then use blocks of code to program mini-games with some familiar characters from Minecraft, Disney, and popular game apps. Saving student progress requires an account and, due to privacy considerations, children under 13 have limited access to features unless they're participating in a teacher-led course. A project library contains millions of student-created games that anyone can play and remix.

Full Disclosure: Code.org and Common Sense Education share a funder, and in the past, Common Sense Education has partnered with Code.org. However, that does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating. 

Code.org is a one-stop shop for coding in schools. From a prereader course to an AP-level course, Code.org offers high-quality, free curricula for all grade levels. Most importantly, teachers don't need computer science degrees to facilitate the coursework since Code.org provides excellent professional development to support teachers. Well-produced videos get kids excited about programming and help them understand its significance in the world today. Unlike some curricula that focus only on programming and algorithms, Code.org's courses encompass many computer science topics, from understanding how the internet works to Big Data to digital citizenship and privacy. Teachers at all levels can find curriculum, online communities, and helpful resources to challenge and inspire their students on Code.org.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Minecraft, Star Wars, and Disney characters serve as touchstones for a colorful, game-based learning experience. Students will find these beginner coding lessons and the curricula incredibly engaging.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Be it for teacher or student, Code.org has what users need: scaffolded curriculum, motivating videos, and engaging pop culture-inspired games. Students advance through instruction at their own pace but work on related ideas.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Helpful videos and tutorials introduce coding concepts, supporting students and teachers through the learning process. Exceptional professional development and community support will give any teacher confidence to teach CS skills.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 103 reviews) (103 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sloane C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Philip Simmons Elementary School
Wando, United States
Amazing Way to Spark Student Interest in Coding!
My overall opinion of code.org is that it is a fantastic tool for students of all ages to get started with and dig deeper into the basics of coding and computer science. My students were intimidated by coding at first but after going through the beginning level games and watching themselves grow and advance through different levels of games their confidence has increased exponentially. I like that there are many choices for students that include both tech and non-tech options to learning the basics of ...
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