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I have a confession. I got my boys interested in coding because I am fascinated by everything that’s available to them. I play the Learn to Code apps right alongside them. I even created this Pirate Coding Game to keep them interested when they were first learning, without constantly being on a tablet.
I’m embarrassingly obsessed.
But what the heck, this is my blog so I’m going to let my nerd flag fly. I actually enjoy coding. I feel good about buying coding related toys for the kids because it’s helping them develop logical and critical thinking skills that are important for their futures, even if they don’t grow up to be computer programmers.
And they are fun.
I like to play with them.
So, here’s my list of recommendations based on ages and what I’ve learned so far.
I also have an ongoing Amazon List that I keep updated with recommendations for gifts for kids that love to code, so make sure you check it out too! It also includes project books that aren’t in this blog post.
Paid Versions of Favorite Coding Apps
I have been working on a guide to kids coding apps, it feels like forever. We’ve been playing a lot and experimenting. There are so many, it feels impossible to get to them all and I wanted to make a really comprehensive guide. I’ll be publishing it in pieces so it actually gets done. So if you want to know when I publish new stuff about coding for kids, Sign Up Here
Along the way, I’ve noticed that, while you can play and learn a lot for free, there will come a point when you’ll want to pay for the advanced levels. I suggest trying out the free versions first and then decide which is best for your kids. The guide with my opinions is coming eventually, I promise.
Here are a few apps we’ve been playing with and testing:
Coding Toys for Younger Kids (ages 4-8)
Your kids aren’t just going to be able to pick up a tablet and code an advanced game. They need to learn to think logically and then apply those thinking skills to different programming languages. There are some great toys on the market that address these first steps of thinking in a fun and playful way that kids love.
My kids started with the board game Robot Turtles.
There are several board games that are great for kids to learn strategy and coding concepts. You can read our review of Robot Turtles and more about Learning to Code for Preschoolers here.
These board games also look like a lot of fun.
I haven’t tried it yet, but the Osmo Coding Game is also recommended for ages 5-12.
Also at this age, a tablet makes sense so that kids can play and explore the various coding apps available. We love our LeapFrog Epic Tablet. It’s Android-based, so you can get apps from the Amazon Underground App Store, but also play age-appropriate educational games available from LeapFrog.
Gifts for Intermediate Coders Ages 8+
As kids get older, the possibilities multiply and start to get pricier. Here are some suggestions if your child is in the 8+ age range. My kids aren’t quite there yet, but these are on my radar for the next few years. *unless of course they come out with something even cooler by then, which I’m sure they will and I will update my suggestions.
This year, Lego has a new robot for younger kids called Boost. The recommeded age is 7-12. It’s less expensive than the Mindstorms Ev3 and I’m assuming a better starter robot for younger kids. The price point, at $159.95 is also more affordable. (It’s on our list for this year).
More Expensive and Advanced Coding
And then there are the advanced robotics toys. Here are a few ideas. As my boys get older and I learn more about things like Kano and Arduino, I’ll be passing along that info to you. So make sure you Sign Up Here to receive updates.
If your kids are older and in the market for a Kano- it’s been on sale lately. The lowest I’ve seen is so far is $99.99.
Monthly Coding Projects Delivered to Your Mailbox
Bitsbox is a monthly subscription box for ages 6-14. Each box contains dozens of programming apps from simple to more advanced.
Kids start with the code from the book and type it in. (This also gives them typing practice). Then they change it to make it their own, play it, or share with friends. The apps work on any mobile device. We received a sample box and my 6 year old LOVED the trading cards with sample codes that came with it. Visit to order your first box today.