8 Best Programming Games for Kids

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October 12, 2018 11:40 AM
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If you are looking for programming games for kids, the internet offers many free online programming games for children. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best free online games that can teach programming to kids and the young at heart.

4 Tips on Playing Online Programming Games

Before we look at the actual games, here are a few tips on accessing and playing these games:

1. Try a Desktop or Laptop

Most of these games will play the best on a desktop computer or laptop. Some of them might work just fine on tablets such as an iPad, but it’s not a given. Sometimes the games will use browser plug-in software that doesn’t work so well on smartphones and tablets – most specifically, Flash. While Flash is dying out on the web, some games might still use these types of plugins, so if it doesn’t work on your device, move on to the next one.

2. Make Sure Your Browser Is Up-to-Date

An up-to-date browser is less likely to hang or cause issues with online games.

3. Turn Off Ad Blockers

Ad blockers might interfere with the game software, so it’s best to turn them off. Most educational programming games for kids on the web are mercifully free of ads, so you don’t usually need an ad blocker.

4. Close Other Browser Tabs

For the best experience, close the other open tabs in your web browser. Online games can eat up your computer memory, and of course, open tabs that you aren’t using will use memory as well. For the best performance, just run the one window with the game while playing.

Strategic Thinking, Typed Code, or Graphical Programming?

Some online games will focus more on teaching kids how to think like a computer programmer. These games will teach programming logic such as sequencing and loops. Other online programs will use a graphical programming interface, such as drag-and-drop blocks, to teach kids the basics of coding. The most advanced games will involve typed code, which is the text of the programming language. Typed code is best for advanced younger kids, teens, and young adults (or adult adults!)

8 Fun and Free Programming Games for Kids

Sure, you can find some great free programming apps for kids that work on smartphones and tablets. But they take up space and some can cost money. So why not try these free coding games right from your web browser?

1. Code Master

The free Code Master online game is based off the Code Master Programming Logic Game. The online version has a beginner and advanced levels. You guide an explorer (or “Avatar”) to collect crystals while traveling to an exotic temple. The controls are simple, but the game play can be challenging, as you have to map out how to get from point A to point B using various directional puzzles. The graphics are a bit retro but fun. This would be a good game for younger kids, but can challenge older kids and adults as well.

2. RoboZZle

RoboZZle calls itself a “social puzzle game.” You solve puzzles by “programming” a robot to go in various directions. You can also create subroutines. The full free online game requires the installation of Silverlight on your browser, but you can also use a “light” version that runs on JavaScript. Registered users who have completed 40 solved puzzles can create and submit their own puzzles for other players to try. Advanced children and older kids, as well as adults, can enjoy this game.

3. Scratch

Developed by MIT, Scratch is more than just a game. It is a graphical programming environment where kids can create games and animations using drag-and-drop programming events. While Scratch may seem a little intimidating at first, once you learn the basics of the system, it is fun and easy to use. The website includes an online community of Scratch developers who share their games and creations online, so you can also play lots of free games at the site.

4. CodeCombat

CodeCombat is an amazing, graphically rich programming game that teaches typed code. Students have their choice of coding with Python, JavaScript, CoffeeScript (an experimental “nicer” JavaScript syntax), or Lua. The game looks and feels like a fantasy role-playing game, but you type in code to get the character to do what it needs to do. Ample tutorials are included to help prompt the proper code syntax. A free online version of the game is available at the website that can be played anonymously without logging in.

5. CodinGame

CodinGame was not actually developed for children, but for adult computer programmers. The website offers profiles for professional programmers to seek employment from companies as well as contests. However, that doesn’t mean that a kid can’t “play” here. (You have to be over 18 to participate in the contests, however.) Advanced kids and teens who enjoy working with typed code can have a blast at CodinGame. Their code can be used to direct outcomes in online games such as spaceship battles. A variety of programming languages is supported, including JavaScript, Lua, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Swift.

6. Blockly: Maze

Blockly: Maze is based on Google’s Blockly, which is a graphical drag-and-drop programming interface. This short little game is a great introduction to Blockly for younger kids, who can then graduate to Blockly Games (see next entry).

7. Blockly Games

Blockly Games is a free Google project that includes a series of seven games designed to teach programming to kids. Games include Puzzle, which is an introduction to Blockly, Bird, which teaches conditionals, and Turtle, which introduces the player to loops.

8. Tynker Coding for Kids

While Tynker primarily sells subscriptions (affordable) to their coding games, they do offer 10 free levels and 20 free activities with their online gaming community. Coding games include Barbie Pet Vet, Candy Quest, Mod Minecraft, and Code Monsters. Tynker starts kids off with a graphical programming interface (like Blockly) and then progresses to JavaScript and Python.

Your Child Can Learn to Code with Programming Games for Kids

To compete in the future job market, your kids will need coding skills. With just a web browser and a computer, your kids can start to learn programming the fun and easy way. By the time your kids graduate from high school, they may just be ready to start their own multimillion-dollar software company and become the next Bill Gates. Get them started early with an online coding game for kids today!

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