Look, no-one is saying that your child has to make you shed-loads of cash. In some ways, that’s not what kids are for. And although it’s certainly true that being able to code will set you head and shoulders above the rest of us mere mortals in terms of career prospects, you’re well within your rights to go learn how to code yourself. But the thing is, coding is like any language – the earlier you learn how to talk Internet, the better your accent will be. 5 coding apps that will TRICK any child into thinking they’re having fun – for the parent that really cares (about world domination).
5. Daisy The Dinosaur (for ages 5-8)
What they think they’re doing: Teaching an adorable dinosaur to dance
What they’re actually doing: Learning the basics of programming logic
An iPad app for the youngest computer coding enthusiasts out there (they can make those kind of distinctions aged 5, sure they can), it teaches the fundamentals of text-programming logic in a way that seems delightful. Kids use basic blocks to animate Daisy, our intrepid dinosaur, by dragging one-word commands like “roll”, “jump” and “dance” into the programming space and pressing play. Sure, it might not quite be hacking the Pentagon, but your darling will be able to see a direct relationship between their commands, and the actions on screen – perfect for nurturing a technical mind.
4. Code Monster (ages 9-teen)
What they think they’re doing: learning magic from a kindly beast
3. Hakitzu (ages 9-teen)
What they think they’re doing: battling robots like a total badass
“To become champion of the arena, you must code to survive”. YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. Two opposing robots, a core that must be hacked, a battle to the death. Bringing together a team including games developers, animators, designers and teachers, Hakitzu teaches the fundamentals of coding in a fast-paced, genuinely absorbing and competition-based way. For what is learning, without senseless robot destruction?
2. Move The Turtle (ages 5-8)
What they think they’re doing: helping an adorable turtle change the world
What they’re actually doing: learning basic programming concepts
Similar to our old pal Daisy Dinosaur, Move the Turtle teaches basic programming logic by manipulating one graphical object through challenges. The only thing with this game (and with Daisy), is that you’re fairly limited in terms of what you can make our turtle friend do. But to be honest, the day on which your child demands more power and control over their innocent turtle friend is the day you know you’ve won.
1.Scratch (ages 8-16)
What they think they’re doing: Creating their own gaming universe
What they’re actually doing: Creating their own gaming universe
And once you’ve got them bellowing for their own control, you can switch them onto the glorious world that is Scratch. An MIT project specifically designed for kids, Scratch has been used by teachers and parents all over the world to help their kids develop animations and games using simple but satisfying drag and drop code clocks. It offers so much more control and personalisation than the more basic coding games, with countless objects that you can use and customise, leaving your kids free to create games entirely to their horrifying liking. Once your kids start creating gaming worlds that fit their imagination, it’s hard to see them ever going back to out-of-the-box playing. You’ve created a dictator. God speed.
All this kid coding fun got you jealous? Fear not, there are plenty of great introduction to coding courses out there – and you can apply for a free place on Maker’s Academy course worth £8,000 here. No dinosaurs, sadly.
By Natasha Hodgson