8 free tools that teach kids how to code

It’s never too soon to teach kids to code. After all, they are already growing up surrounded by technology and are naturals when it comes to tablets, smartphones and computers. Here are eight websites and apps you can use to get your kid interested in coding.

Free tools that teach kids how to code
Credit: Thinkstock
Free tools that teach kids how to code

Kids are growing up with technology in a way that even millennials haven't experienced. Just watch a toddler navigate an iPad, and it's clear that technology comes naturally to the newest generation. Because we've evolved into this digital world, coding has become integral to companies everywhere, making programming a smart career path for the next generation. There are many resources available to learn how to code, but the ones on this list are focused squarely on the kids out there.

minecraft
Credit: Minecraft

There's a good chance your kid already plays this blocky pixelated game on her phone, computer or tablet. It serves as a way to keep kids entertained while they also learn the fundamentals of coding. To say it's been a sensation is putting it lightly. With 53 million copies sold by 2015, Microsoft purchased Minecraft for a cool $2.5 billion dollars. The game is so popular that videos of Minecraft are the number one most watched gaming videos on YouTube.

scratch website
Credit: Scratch

Scratch comes from MIT, and its focused on getting kids from age 8 to 16 interested in coding. Kids can program games, animations and interactive stories that they can share with others in the Scratch community. It's not limited to ages 8 to 16, either, as its website points out. Anyone can try out Scratch for a fun and easy lesson in coding. It's available in more than 150 countries and has received funding from numerous companies including the National Science Foundation, Google, Dell and the LEGO Foundation. There is even a special section dedicated to educators called ScratchEd, which supplies teachers with resources to introduce coding in the classroom.

lissa explains it all website
Credit: lissa explains it all

This site has been around for 10 years, and its bright yellow and pink website shows its age. But don't let that fool you, because it's a great resource for kids who want to learn HTML, and it was the first site dedicated to the task. Lissa Explains it All offers a wealth of information to help kids create a website with information on everything from HTML to CSS to JavaScript, and more. The site's founder, Alyssa "Lissa" Daniels created the site in 1997 when she was just 11-years-old. She wanted a way to keep track of all the HTML code she was learning and started cataloguing it on a website, eventually people found the site and she made it a public resource.

hopscotch website
Credit: Hopscotch

If you have an iPad, you can download the Hopscotch app for your kids to teach them how to make basic games and pixel art. Kids will learn to code while they play along with the games and watch informative videos. Kids can take part in different challenges to further develop their skills as well as a community where they can ask questions when they run into any difficulties. The app is completely free and is designed for ages 9 to 11, but that hasn't stopped adults from also getting addicted to the fun and interactive format.

tynker website
Credit: Tynker

Aimed at helping kids learn to make anything from Web apps to custom games to actual hardware, Tynker is another great interactive resource to teach your kid to code. It offers fun and interactive tutorials, exercises, puzzles and more to help get kids interested in making their own creations. There are a number of ways for kids to learn on Tynker and it will lay the groundwork for the fundamentals of programming. Kids can start coding with visuals and icons, before moving onto traditional code. Everything about Tynker is designed to make your kid a master programmer once they transition from the games and puzzles.

Hackety Hack website
Credit: Hackety Hack

Hackety Hack is focused on helping kids who want to learn to create software, and it's all open source. It focuses on teaching kids Ruby in a way that is fun and accessible. It uses the Shoes toolkit, which is aimed at making it easy for people to develop programs using Ruby. Hackety Hack claims it's perfect for those without any experience in coding or programming, so if your kid is an absolute beginner, it shouldn't be a problem.

kids ruby website
Credit: Kids Ruby

If your kid wants to learn Ruby, another great resource is Kids Ruby, which lets them write and test code on their computer. It works across many platforms, so it won't matter if you're working on a PC or Mac. Kids Ruby emphasizes "hacking your homework," which really means creating programs that will make their homework easier. But it's a great slogan to get a kid's attention. For kids who don't need encouragement to get their homework done, you could get them a Sphero, which they can program to do different actions using Ruby.

Cargo-Bot website
Credit: Cargobot

Another free iPad game, Cargo-Bot gets kids to understand the basics of programming by having them teach a robot to move crates around to solve puzzles. It's built with Codea, which is an iPad app that is designed to quickly create games and simulations right on your tablet using the programming language Lua. It instills the logical thinking that kids will need in order to become successful coders, so they can move on from kid-focused games to the real deal.