15 Best Coding Games for Kids

If you’re a parent, then chances are you’ve heard endless debates about how screen time affects children. And while it’s always a good idea to encourage your kids to put down their phones, tablets, and laptops in order to get some fresh air, there’s nothing wrong with giving your children some screen time — especially if they’re learning something with their devices. Looking for some educational online games that your kids will actually enjoy? Then you’ll want to check out the best coding websites and games for kids, which can nurture everything from problem-solving skills to critical thinking to creativity.

Learning to code has many benefits that can help kids out later in life, too. In addition to being a skill that’s highly valued in the workforce, coding teaches people how to work more efficiently and logically. As Steve Jobs once said, “Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” Of course, it might help to know a little bit more about coding and its benefits before you get your children started (and no, teaching your kid to code doesn’t mean you expect them to become the next Steve Jobs). Here’s what you should know about coding programs for kids:

What is coding, in simple terms?

Simply put, coding is telling a computer or machine how to perform a task. As a rep from Raspberry Pi Foundation explains, “Coding is one aspect of digital making. When you write code, you are writing instructions for a computer to follow.” As complex as they may seem, computers are actually simple devices, so that’s why you have to give them really simple instructions that you then build into a complex set of rules. And learning how to provide those instructions isn’t just helpful for computers — it challenges programmers to communicate with computers in a way that makes sense.

Why is coding good for kids?

Teaching your kid how to code won’t just make them a computer whiz — it will teach them plenty of other valuable skills as well. “When young people are given opportunities to learn and create with code, they can do incredible things, from expressing themselves creatively, to highlighting real-world issues or controlling a robot,” the Raspberry Pi Foundation rep says. “Coding also helps develop young people’s resilience and problem-solving skills, as debugging is a key part of the process to ensure their code works correctly.” Yes, they may get frustrated at times, but it’s all part of the process!

At what age can a child start coding?

Just like when learning a new language, it’s both better and easier to learn coding skills from a young age. “There is research into children being able to learn aspects of coding from the age of three, as well as during kindergarten and early elementary school,” the Raspberry Pi Foundation rep explains. “Younger children typically learn coding by programming graphical symbols. Then they move on to block-based coding and

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I’ll Never Be A Hacker, But Games About Programming Make Me Feel Like I’m Satoru Iwata

Image: Nintendo Life

Up until about six years ago, my experience with the world of programming and code amounted to understanding what <b>formatting</b> meant in html, and vaguely remembering that one game about steering a turtle using basic commands like “FORWARD 10”. I enjoy games, but I do not usually care to see the chaotic tangle of code that lives behind the screen. As long as it works, lads, I’m happy.

But about six years ago, I met my partner, who will be deeply embarrassed to know that I consider him a programming wizard. He has a degree in computer science, and thinks that BASIC is “fun”. Despite this, I fancied him like mad, and when you’re a romantic dork, you try to impress people you fancy by attempting to learn the things they like.

So I started learning a few programming languages. Nothing too intense, mind you — I dabbled in C#, and made what is essentially a mildly interactive PowerPoint presentation called Awkward Dating Simulator, and then I started learning Tracery, a modified version of Javascript, to make Twitter bots like Pleasant Subtweets (which tells you nice things once every three hours) and my personal favourite, Get Facts, which tells you… facts? Sort of? Both are fully automated, and procedurally generate each tweet, loaded up with words that I wrote. They’re pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

This is what Assembly looks like, by the way
This is what Assembly looks like, by the way (Image: Swtpc6800)

But here’s the thing: Learning programming is almost exactly the same as learning a language. It’s not particularly fun a lot of the time, and it begins to feel impossible right around the time that you learn of the existence of deponent verbs, or quaternions, and you wonder how the hell an entire industry is founded on this godforsaken thing.

And with programming, like with learning any other language, there are programs that try to make it fun. For natural languages, that’s apps like Duolingo, which gamify the process and reward you for doing well and being consistent. They are accompanied by friendly, colourful graphics and goofy, short-form stories that entertain as well as edify.

Programming has video games, because of course it does. The people making the video games are the nerds who learned how to program in the first place.

If you’re a fan of logic puzzle games, chances are you’ve already played a programming game — they’re not always entirely obvious. I would argue that Opus Magnum, a gorgeous puzzle game that will probably never come to console, is a programming game — it tests your “if this, then that” abilities without ever outright saying that it’s doing that — and pretty much every Sokoban-style block-pushing game is a crash course in dependencies, too. And don’t forget Baba Is You, the adorable-yet-fiendishly-tricky puzzler that literally tasks you with understanding and changing variable definitions in order to

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Itching to code? These are the best games to learn programming skills

Many of us would like to learn to program, but are daunted. It turns out programming is not really difficult at all once you’ve got the trick of it (really!). 

But, there’s a lot of knowledge to gain before you, the student, can be anything but utterly confused. It can be painful. If only there existed some gentler way to smuggle programming knowledge into your head.

Thankfully, there are some great games out there that can teach you how to code, while also being fun. Read on to find out our pick. Also, make sure you check out our guide on the best laptops for programming on for some great choices to help you code.

CodinGame screenshot

(Image credit: CodinGame)

1. CodinGame

CodinGame has a very special place in our hearts because not only is it free and ridiculously fun, it actually helps you to build up a profile and get hired in a relevant field. In this it’s similar to well-known sites like Leetcode and HackerRank, except a lot more effort has been put into presenting the education as a game.

Create your developer profile, which fills out the more you code and play. When you’re ready, you can open it up to companies of your choice and perhaps get hired doing what you love.

So, try out CodinGame, you won’t regret it.

Gladiabots screenshot

(Image credit: WhisperGames)

2. Gladiabots – AI Combat arena

Ah, strategy and programming; what more could you ask for? Developed by GFX47 and published by WhisperGames, Gladiabots is an award-winning robot combat strategy game.

In it, you fight robots with robots. Instead of controlling them directly, however, you program their AI and let them fight by themselves. Debug, improve and fix your AI ’till it’s able to outsmart your enemies in three unique game modes, Elimination, Domination and Collection.

There’s a single-player campaign, online multiplayer with ranked/unranked modes and an asynchronous multiplayer mode for offline play with friends. There’s also a sandbox mode, where you can control both teams.

Grab a copy on Steam for $14.99 (around £13, AU$20) or get 20% off the Optimized Edition, which includes the Optimization Pack for $23 (around £17, AU$31).

CheckiO screenshot

(Image credit: CheckiO)

3. CheckiO

Working with the Javascript and Python programming languages, CheckiO helps you to improve your coding skills through fun tasks, games and challenges.

A similar offering to CodinGame, CheckiO supports everyone from beginner to advanced-level programmers. You must make your way through a series of islands, beginning with “initiation” (very easy challenges). When you beat one, you unlock the next.

While CheckiO is mostly free, it offers a membership package called “Awesome Member”. You can pay monthly for $2.99 (around £2, AU$4) 6-monthly for $14.99 (around £11, AU$20), annually for $24.99 (around £18, AU$34).

Hop on to CheckiO now to learn or improve your coding skills.

Human Resource machine screenshot

(Image credit: Tomorrow Corporation)

4. Human Resource machine

Developed and published by Tomorrow Corporation, Human Resource Machine is a programming puzzle game.

In HRM you have to program

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