• Rahul Khandelwal

Ultimate Guide for Online Coding for Kids - 24 Free + Paid sites


Introduction


Technology, artificial intelligence and computers, in general, have taken over the world, we all live in a digital age. Computers, AI and stuff have really made our lives and our work much easier. They have become a really important part of our lives, we are dependent on them for so many of our daily tasks especially our work-related tasks. We all are really tech-savvy and are capable of performing a lot of our daily tasks through our PC`s.


We all can perform daily ordinary tasks through our PC`s but how many of us actually know how to program a computer and how many of us know how the computer is able to perform a certain task and what all goes into programming a computer? I bet very few of us.


Many huge and successful names have urged people to learn how to code in order to open new doors and opportunities for them in their lives and in their careers. Here is what some of the big and successful names had to say:



We want every kid in the world to be excited about the many possibilities coding can unlock - for themselves, their communities and for the society. Everyone should have the right to learn computer science at school and beyond.
Sundar Pichai (Google CEO)


Everyone should know how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.
Steve Jobs (Chairman, CEO & Co-founder of Apple)



Learning to write programs stretches your mind and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.
Bill Gates (Co-founder of Microsoft)


I taught myself how to program computers when I was a kid, bought my first computer when I was 10, and sold my first commercial program when I was 12
Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla)


Why Coding is Important?


As our world is becoming more and more dependent on Artificial Intelligence it is really very important for us to stay at pace with all the progress that is happening in the tech world and knowing how to code is going to become really important in a few years time, we need to teach our younger generation how to code and not only is teaching them how to code really good for their future but studies have shown that it also helps in making them smarter and better at problem-solving if you still think why your kid needs to learn how to code here are some facts for you:

  • Around 60 million jobs to be created by Artificial Intelligence by 2022. Source

  • 75% increase in logical & abstract thinking skills in kids who code, learning to code has stunning cognitive-related benefits, such as problem-solving, computational thinking, analytical thinking, creative thinking, leadership-related skills, and even teamwork. Source

  • Many coding languages share similar features, so it’s easier to pick up another language once you know one. In the near future knowing how to code will be as necessary as knowing how to write is today. Yes, regardless of the field or career your students decide for their future.

  • The earlier you start the better it is: Starting at an early age it will help them master the art of coding by the time they grow up whilst also helping them to become smarter and sharper. Many experts believe that coding should be taught to kids in the school itself, it should be an equally important part of their curriculum. Here`s a link to an article published by the Harvard Business Review speaking in detail about the same Click here to read

So now that you know why it is so important to learn how to code, here are our honest suggestions for the best free as well as paid online coding courses for kids that will help them get started with their journey of becoming one of the best programmers in the world!


We're here to guide you through the process of choosing the best online coding course for your child and help you decide which one would suit your child the best and mainly answer the question of whether it's worth going in for a paid course and what are the pros or cons of it, so continue reading. It is important to note that all these recommendations we are going to give are in no particular order so keep reading till the end to see which website would suit your child the most.

  1. Code.org Studio



Age: 4-14

Price: Free


Code.org is a non-profit organization, the one that organizes the annual hour of code. They provide a curriculum to schools and also have a website for kids with 4 courses teaching the kids computer science fundamentals. After each course kids can create cool games or stories which they can share online. Every child can see and be a part of over 74 Million projects showcased.


Their courses mostly use a block-based approach but one can opt to see the code in text form as well. Everything is puzzle-based along with informative videos and other awesome activities which teach kids the principles of computer science. The course is aligned with ISTE standards and the best part is that it won't cost you a penny so it's one of the best and most popular options out there.


What we like:

You get a lot of practice coding puzzles as per your requirement as non price. Most of the content uses animations and cartoon characters that student would like.


Drawbacks:

With abundant content also comes the issue of confusion. You need to spend time to find the right set of exercises as per your level. The lessons are not 1 on 1 but that is not a huge deal-breaker considering the quality you are getting.



2. Scratch

Ages: 8+

Price: Free


Scratch is a platform we ourselves use for our scratch programming course, so we definitely recommend it.


What we like:


It’s a free block coding website for kids, developed by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch in itself is its own programming language and consists of graphical blocks. To add to that, Scratch has a huge online community where children can program and share a lot of stuff such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. Younger children who are too young or have just learned to read can try ScratchJr, it is a very simplified version of Scratch.


Drawbacks:

Scratch provides a lot of avenues to learn complex concepts but without a streamlined curriculum, you would find it a little tough to use blocks such as cloning, broadcast and conditional loops.


3. NotchUp




Ages: 5-17

Price: Free 60 min trial session, the full course is paid.


NotchUp teaches kids app development, game development, python programming, artificial intelligence, and web development through LIVE online Coding sessions in their preferred language. Our courses are designed by a team from IIT-D, IIM-A and Harvard to delight your child and prepare them for the digital future, we have a really Adaptive Curriculum and we believe that every child is different, and so is their learning path.


We have flexible timings so you get the luxury of choosing the time and date for all your sessions. Our courses are gamified with rewards to keep kids excited and engaged. We also provide a monthly detailed progress report to track the progress of your child.


What you would love about us:

In addition to all this, we have the most reasonable prices amongst all the other paid options and we offer true value for money and a money-back guarantee! We make sure that your kid gets quality attention and that they are able to grasp whatever we teach so if you`re looking for a paid option NotchUp is definitely one of the best and value for money options out there.


Drawbacks:

We might seem a little biased here but seriously we are one of the best-paid options available out there without a shadow of a doubt.


4. Blockly


Ages: 8+

Price: Free


Blockly is owned by Google and it takes a block-based programming approach in order to introduce JavaScript to the kids and to teach them the programming principles, it’s just like solving a puzzle.


What we like:

It is pretty simple and uses a gamified method and simple graphics in order to make kids understand the concept. You can code using blocks as well as the in built text editor


Drawbacks:

It may be restrictive in the types of interactive projects that you can make using the blocks,but overall it's a great website for kids to start learning how to code using text and blocks


5. Tynker



Ages: 4-14

Price: A sample lesson is free but total access to their library and private Minecraft server requires a subscription.


Kids can learn how to build their own games, apps and learn how to program Minecraft mods on their website. Their course is self-paced and hence it`s easy to understand and pick up for kids. They teach block as well as text-based programming.


What we like:


Their course is gamified and space-themed and there are all kinds of cool aliens and spaceships etc in it which make it a fun learning experience for kids. Kids progress through 3 levels during their course according to their age. Tynker in their course helps the kids to create their own game on Minecraft and make their own mods, apply skins etc. They can opt to go for a paid version which will give them access to a private Minecraft server where they can create their own game safely and later invite friends to play their game with them. It`s a good option for kids of every stage be it a beginner or an advanced student.


Drawbacks:

The free account is very restrictive in the number of games you can play. Even with the pro - account, you get access to more games and levels but doubt resolution is something that this platform does not cater to.




6. Code Combat



Age: 5-17

Price: Core levels are free but advanced levels require a monthly subscription.


It's a coding game that teaches kids Python and JavaScript in a text-based form.


What we like:

Kids get to play different levels of a (role-playing game) and, meanwhile, they will learn to code in Python and JavaScript. Their website features amazing graphics and a feature that allows connecting with other players in the community making coding more fun and team-based. Players visit the Dungeons of Kithgard where they direct the hero called Anya, by writing codes. After completing a level, students move up to more compelling and interesting tasks and coding. Many worlds and levels are there to be explored, it encourages kids to learn more and grow their coding skills whilst taking on harder coding challenges. It is one of the most fun options out there.


Drawbacks:

CodeCombat students learn a lot of commands that only exist in the game world. While this is fine in the game, some "structural" commands could have easily been replaced by the correct Python command and maybe a few more little things here and there.


7. Stencyl


Age: 6+

Price: Free but also has Annual subscriptions.


Stencyl is a game creation software that lets users publish iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, HTML5 & Flash games without writing a single line of code.


What we like:

They use a graphical interface which is very similar to Scratch, but with new functionalities and more ready-to-use blocks in order to make work easy. Kids can build their own worlds and characters and edit them in detail and in their own innovative way to make them more eye-catching and awesome. The graphics are kid-friendly and, for advanced students who want to see the text-based code, there is the option to see and edit the text-based code in their game. It requires a software download and set up, they offer extensive support in their forums. Stencyl is great for the kids who love games and game development and like to add details in their design.


Drawbacks:

Games tend to lag if there are too many assets in the games. Like scratch, there is not a stepwise curriculum that the student to follow to learn about advanced concepts



8. Code Monkey



Ages: 9+

Price: They have an annual subscription fee.


Code Monkey teaches kids coding through fun-filled online games. Kids aim to help a monkey gather bananas by writing code. The player has to work through a series of challenges and eventually ends up learning enough code to be able to build their own game.


What we like:

Kids get to write code with a text-based editor and learn CoffeeScript, a language that is similar to English but compiles into JavaScript. Their stories do a good job of covering all of the important coding concepts such as logic, loops, direction, sequencing, and algorithms. Code Monkey is made specifically for young kids about 1st and 2nd grade, they also have their Code Monkey Jr. app for the little ones. This one should be your choice if your kid loves stories.


Drawbacks:

It's more suitable for really small kids because it`s very basic the slightly older kids should maybe look for another option.


9. Codemoji




Age: 5-13

Price: Trial is free and they have a tiered annual subscription


Coddemoji strongly believes in the idea that typing proficiency is not needed to code hence their platform teaches coding by the help of images, they strongly believe that students can learn to problem-solve and find solutions just by looking at images. Hence, children as small 5-year-olds can also learn how to code. If your child loves images or you want your child to start out easy this should be the one for you.


What we like:

We really like their ideology and perception of coding.


Drawbacks:

It's pretty basic, nothing too advanced.



10. Vidcode





Age:11+

Price: Limited trial period n then a tiered annual subscription


Vidcode offers well-research computer science courses focused on open-ended projects. The courses they teach are computer science, object-oriented programming, web programming, design, & JavaScript.


What we like:

Kids can upload photos, illustrations, videos and audio and manipulate them with code right and have fun, they allow their users to connect computer programming to the media they interact with daily. Using JavaScript, kids learn to code as they make various videos and motion graphics. Students see a thumbnail of the video and the code behind it together side-by-side. As they make changes to the code they are able to see the effect and changes happening in the thumbnail. They can then share video projects in the Vidcode online community or via social media once they create something. This is a great website for the kids interested in social media and creating videos.


Drawbacks:

This is a great platform for beginners to start with text-based coding, but it mostly focuses on web programming



12. Code Avengers




Ages : 5+

Price : Free 7 days trial and then paid


Code Avengers is a coding website for kids that is self-paced, they mostly offer text-based courses. The courses include a variety of things like introduction to coding, introduction to web development, and coding in Python, HTML & CSS, or JavaScript.


What we like:

Kids have to work through the lessons, debug code, and complete challenges. Code Avengers automatically tracks your child’s achievements as they progress. They give a Parent Dashboard, where you can view your child’s progress through the courses, the projects they’ve created, and the concepts they’ve learned, etc. If they have any difficulty, the kids have access to online support and technical support. This live help is sometimes lacking in other self-paced programs, so this is another great option.


Drawbacks:

Again your child would not be getting one on one attention and guidance from a teacher during a session but if that`s not an issue for you then it is definitely a great option.


13. App Inventor



Age: 13+

Price: Free


App Inventor is a brilliant and totally free visual, blocks-based language for building Android Apps. Their coding website for kids also has many video tutorials and courses.It was originally created by Google.


What we like:

App Inventor is simple to use, it makes it possible to program Android apps simply by moving objects and tweaking things around the screen. Its approach is similar to block-based programming that many other sites offer. The course first teaches how to set up the App Inventor and moves through everything progressively slowly covering more complex Android apps. Kids learn how to build mobile apps for android and share them using the same platform. It’s really fun and definitely a must-try if your child loves creating fun stuff.


Drawbacks:

Limited User Interface. The user interface builder has improved but is still a bit with and limited, so you can't build any user interface. An effective tutorial guide seems to be missing. NotchUp has created a curriculum on App Development that effectively fixes these gaps



14. Code Monster

Age: 13+

Price: Free


Code Monster is an interactive game where kids can write JavaScript.


What we like:

The website is really good but limited in functionalities. It gets you coding as soon as you enter their website.


Drawbacks:

Code Monster does need that the student should already know some JavaScript. It’s basically just a website where you can practice and master your skills. The Code Monster website is just to practice coding and having fun.


15. GameBlox


Age: 13+

Price: Free


GameBlox is another block-based programming website for making games online for web and mobile devices. Anyone can develop games that one can play online and on their own phone.


What we like:

Kids can use their project templates to get started quickly and make them more fun and interesting or just press the make an app button and get started right away. This coding website also offers five tutorials to get started. There is an online forum on the site where questions can be asked or you can watch a few youtube videos to get started quickly. If your child is interested in game development, this should be a good place to start.


Drawbacks:

We would have liked if there was a more extensive resource for tutorials for students to learn at their own pace and level of understanding.


16. Glitch


Age: 13+

Price: Free


Glitch is a very simple and minimalistic tool for creating web apps. They’re making their website better and simplifying developer tools, making it a great option for slightly older kids who are learning to code.


What we like:

Coding on Glitch is like working on Google Docs, more than one person can work on the same project at the same time. There’s no setup required, and changes can be seen live on the website as you type your code or make any changes. Students can use simple, yet powerful tools to build their website and remix projects from real-world languages and frameworks. Kids can work together on projects as a team. It’s easy and fun to code on Glitch. That's not all, but they also have a community of developers at all levels to guide the learning of the kids and help them out. One doesn’t need to stress about the setup and stuff you can get on with your work smoothly, so if your kid likes something like this would be a great choice.


Drawbacks:

There are some storage and computational limits on each app you create. Overall it's a great website no doubt.



17. Khan Academy



Age: 13+

Price: Free


Khan Academy offers loads of expertly created content and resources for free online courses and for practice too. They also have courses in JavaScript, Processing JS, HTML & CSS, HTML & JavaScript and SQL.


What we like:

Each of these courses presents a really good introduction aimed at helping kids in building a strong base for mastering their skills. There’s also the “Meet the Professional” section which contains interviews with some of the top computer programmers from around the world working in a variety of industries. There’s an online forum where students can share their projects, leave comments, and get their questions and queries answered.


Drawbacks:

It would be good to note that this website would only really be suited for an advanced level student or adult.


18. Code Wars



Age: 14+

Price: Free


Code Wars is for someone who likes competition. With CodeWars, you improve and master your skills by training with other coders. It's a unique and fun way of improving your skills. Coders master their skills by completing coding challenges given to them in CoffeeScript, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Java, Clojure, Haskell, or C# (Csharp).


What we like:

It is based on the Japanese martial arts practice of kata, so in CodeWars you have to first choose a language and prove your skills. The coder is ranked and given a challenge based on this initial challenge. The challenges keep getting more and more difficult. Coder is given Honor points for each challenge that he or she completes. Once the coder completes the challenge successfully, the coder is shown how the other coders solved the challenge, this helps them gain new perspectives and become smarter and sharper whilst mastering and progressing. If your kids like competition this website is the one for you.


Drawbacks:

You do not get points for your comments, and the promoted solutions are often so complex that it would take you just as long to figure it out and apply them as it would to find your own solution. What people vote as the best solution is not necessarily always the best one. The courses aren't segregated by programming language, which can be confusing if you only know only one language. You might not realize someone's talking about a different language that looks a lot like the one you know.


19. Pluralsight



Ages: 14+

Price: 10 days free trial and then you have to pay


Pluralsight is a website that offers one of the largest variety of selections of coding courses online on their website for new and upcoming developers.


What we like:

Over 50 separate courses led by a team of experts are organized into seven paths. Each path covers the fundamentals of coding languages such as Ruby, JavaScript, HTML & CSS, iOS, and databases. They also teach about IT, Data, and Cybersecurity. Each course is built around a storyline that makes things fun and easy to understand. Instructions are delivered by video and reinforced through coding challenges. These courses also have a skills and assessment test to make sure the concepts are solidified and they also have an online forum to answer questions.


Drawbacks:

You need a premium account for the chat support feature.


20. Code HS




Ages: 13+

Price: Limited trial period and then paid


Code HS is a coding website for kids that delivers really good learning experience to high school computer science classes.


What we like:

Code HS offers online, self-paced classes by providing video lessons, coding exercises, quizzes to assess subject mastery, and paid users get access to interact with expert tutors.Two Intro to Computer Science classes, one in JavaScript and the other in Python is a part of the course. The catalogue also lists two AP classes: AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science in Java.


Drawbacks:

The free level is available for a limited amount of time. The three different pain levels add quizzes, handouts, lesson plans, various dashboards, and access to live tutors.


21. Codecademy



Codecademy offers a comprehensive set of text-based courses on web development and related programming languages. Students can pick which language they want to learn and advance through lessons with instant feedback on their code.


What we like:

Aimed at those interested in becoming professional web developers, Codecademy courses cover how to build a website and a whole slew of related coding languages, including HTML & CSS, Ruby on Rails, Python, JavaScript, jQuery, SQL, PHP, and more. General access to Codecademy courses is free. The paid PRO track adds a personalized learning plan, quizzes, projects, and access to live advisors. For kids dreaming about a job in programming, the final project in the paid PRO track covers how to build a professional online portfolio.


Drawbacks:

The technical side of things could use some improvement. Free courses are too general. Sometimes, it’s tough to find relevant information



22. Lightbot


LightBot is puzzle-based, it lets kids solve puzzles using programming. It’s a puzzle game, based on coding, that teaches you programming logic as you keep playing.


What we like:

Kids will learn things like sequencing, overloading, procedures, recursive loops, and conditionals in the form of a fun puzzle game. The game focuses on a robot and blocks, similar to Minecraft. LightBot was designed for beginners so it is very simple and beginner-friendly.


Drawbacks: More ideal for young learners who are starting with basics. Can get a little repetitive after that.


23. Thimble




Ages: 10+

Price: $99 to start


Thimble is an online academy that makes it possible for students to take classes in robotics, coding, and game design taught by real teachers and industry professionals.


What we like:

Project-based kits are delivered every three months to your house to create a hands-on experience for students. Their video lessons are available anytime, anywhere on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.


Drawbacks:

It does not offer 1 on 1 guidance to students.



24. Swift Playgrounds


Ages: 5+

Price: Free


This one is very similar to Code Combat mentioned earlier on the list. Shift Playgrounds was designed by Apple for the iPad, it is like a polished version of code combat.


What we like:

Kids can learn basics of coding and experiment with a wide range of challenges to explore a unique coding experience.


Drawbacks:

It is to be noted that one would need an iPad with ios 12.0 or higher.


Conclusion


It is obvious that there are loads of options both paid and free ones available out there and having so many options is what makes it trickier to choose the best one, we're here to help you all choose the best option.


Many people might be inclined to go for the free courses which to be honest are really good, some are even better than the paid ones, but there are a few drawbacks to free courses. Let me explain. I think you need to understand that the internet is a deep and wide ocean where everything is available free or at very low cost. But unfortunately for effective learning to happen you need a structured curriculum that slowly progresses at the speed of the child and understands their needs. Students need an expert and well-trained mentor/ teacher to guide them along this learning path so that they remain focussed and just don’t end up giving up midway. If you want the course to be super effective you all should definitely go for a paid service of your choice which will nurture your child and help him/her grow and also give you value for money,


Just to make it clear free courses also do a great job but the amount of personal attention and guidance your child would get from a paid service would be unmatched. Now it's upto you to decide, it doesn’t matter which course or online class you choose the important thing is to give our young and talented kids the best training possible in order to prepare them for the digital age!


About NotchUp

NotchUp is an initiative by IIT-D IIM-A Alumni to inculcate critical new-age skills in children which will prepare them for a bright future. 65% of today's 5-year-old will in 15 years find themselves in jobs that don't exist today. More than 60 million of these new jobs will be in fields related to computer programming. NotchUp offers live interactive video classes from the comfort of your home which improve logical and problem solving skills by more than 75%.

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