With an increasing focus on programming and coding finding the way onto the curriculum in many different countries across the globe, developers are creating materials which can help educators skill themselves, and also to support pupils in this area.
Coding and programming allows for individuals to show their creative side, but also embodies key, logical skills which need to be understood and mastered to create a successful programme. With technology advances racing ahead within societies, the need for programmers is going to be a key concept which individuals need to understand to be able to relate the apps, programmes and any further developments. The skills are not difficult to learn, but the issue in education is likely to be the confidence, understanding, and skills of the teachers who will suddenly find coding or programming within their remit.
There are plenty of web/PC applications which can support coding skill development, with one of the most popular being CodeAcademy, where individuals can learn to code interactively for free. But with more and more schools using tablets, iPad developers are starting to create some really good apps to support the skill developments required to become proficient programmers.
Since originally posting this list, there have been further additions for coding with apps on tablets. Please visit the following reviews we have completed:
- Scratch Junior – Free – aimed at young children (ages 5-7) to learn important new skills as they program their own interactive stories and games (iPad).
- The Adventure Creator – £2.29 – Encourages pupils to Create, Edit, Code, Play and Share your own Graphic and Text adventures (iPad).
- Run Marco – Free – an epic adventure game to have fun while learning to code (iPad & Android).
- Swift Playgrounds – real coding concepts are brought to life with an interactive interface that allows students and beginners to explore working with Swift, the easy-to-learn programming language from Apple used by professional developers to create world-class apps (iPad).
Below, we feature some of the latest and most notable apps which are ideal for educational settings:
Code Blast (iPad) £0.99
A great addition to the list is Code Blast, which is aimed at younger programmers, possibly aged between 4-8 years old. The app is designed to give younger children an introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. The mission is simple! Program the rocket by dragging and dropping instructions to blast them to the finish and complete the course whilst avoiding the UFOs and electric barriers! Children will gain early experience of the following programming concepts and skills in a fun and engaging way: The need for precise and accurate programming; The importance of correctly ordered sequential instructions; Forward planning to solve a given problem; Testing their program; Removing any ‘bugs’ to make their program work as expected.
AndroidScript (Android) Free
Tynker (iPad) Free with in-app Purchases to Advance.
This is a charming cartoon procedural puzzler, which encourages pupils to create a game by playing one. Tynker consists of a scene that must be correctly programmed using coding skills with jigsaw-style pieces. As you progress, the situations become more difficult although their are guides within the app to introduce more efficient ways of completing the programming task. The first stage is free, but Lost in Space and Sketch Racers cost £1.49 or £1.99 for the bundle*.
Kodu (Windows) Free
Suggested by Stuart Ball, Kodu lets you create games through a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game with no design or programming skills.
TouchDevelop (Windows) Free
Another Windows app suggested by Stuart Ball, Create apps on your phone, share them with other people! Create fun games and automate recurring tasks. You compose programs by tapping on the screen. Query the phone sensors, send web requests, and manage your data in the cloud.
A.L.E.X. – Free with in-app purchase available for more features (iPad)
Thanks to Shaun Wilson for suggesting this iPad App, which is provides a basic, and useful, concept of programming as it introduces sub routines and debugging nicely, ideal for primary/elementary aged pupils. The app also is a fun puzzle game and a great way to train your brain. A.L.E.X. helps you think and plan logically as you program your robot A.L.E.X. with a sequence of commands to get through each level from start to finish. The app is free, providing 25 levels plus the ability to create your own puzzle. An in-app purchase (£0.69*) provides 35 additional levels; More block types to create your own puzzles; and 3 additional looks for A.L.E.X.
Light-Bot (Free) iPad / iPhone / iPod Touch / Android
Light-bot is a programming puzzle game: a puzzle game that uses game mechanics that are firmly rooted in programming concepts. Free versions of the app are available with limited progression permitted, but the full app lets players gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. The app contains 40 levels and 20 challenge stars to complete as you progress through. For users of Android devices, the app is also available at the Google Play store, for the same £1.99 price – Click here to view in the Play Store. This app is great for learning about the fundamentals of coding, with the interface encouraging the user to gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. Click here to view the app in the Apple App Store.
The popular Bee-Bot, which can be found in many schools across the country, has a couple of iPad apps which can be used to support the basics of coding. The free Bee-Bot app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns. This version of the app supports young learners, whereas the Pyramid version is designed for pupils aged 7+, allowing you to control the Bee-Bot through a series of 12 levels of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, unlocking doors, collecting treasure and out-smarting Mummies as you go. The Pyramid version of the app also supports mathematical strands of geometry: position; direction; and motion.
Cargo-Bot (Free) iPad
Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. This app is for the more advanced programmer, encouraging a logical mindset. That said, the learning curve is surprisingly steep, but the difficult level should not put you off. This app was the first game programmed entirely on iPad using Codea™ (see below), so you can see the potential of programming on a tablet. Educationally, this app is aimed at pupils with more advanced skills, but the challenges within encourage logical thinking, and is worthy of exploration. The app is free on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Codea (£10.99) iPad
Codea has been described as, “…kind of like the Garage Band of coding”, and was the programme behind Cargo-Bot mentioned above. The app is built on the Lua programming language. A simple, elegant language that doesn’t rely too much on symbols — a perfect match for iPad. The app lets you create games and simulations — or just about any visual idea you have. Turn thoughts into interactive creations that make use of iPad features like Multi-Touch and the accelerometer. A great, premium app that supports the creativity of programming. This versatile app is certainly aimed at the more advanced coder/programmer and certainly could be used with the more confident pupils, encouraging their programming creativity.
The app is priced £10.99 on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Hopscotch: Coding for kids, iPad – A visual programming language
Hopscotch teaches children to code using simple, intuitive building blocks. Pupils can create games, animations and other programs in this colourful, interactive environment.
The app is free on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Daisy the Dinosaur, iPad
Created by Hopscotch (see above) this fun app helps children learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that children of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. The app encourages children to intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges.
The app is free on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
The following three apps were suggested by Bryn Shelley in the comments box below. Thank you.
Dynamic ART is a graphical programming environment on iPad. It’s easy to create amazing artwork and animations with Dynamic ART Lite.
You don’t need to study complex syntax of computer languages. You just drag and drop a set of blocks and connect them together. It will be a fun way to build your own programs.
It can be used for beginners to learn and practice mathematical, computational ideas and creative thinking.
The app is £2.29 on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Kodable is an educational iPad game offering a child-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. For kids ages 5 and up, and tools for grown-ups too! Kodable Pro comes with 3 worlds and 90 levels of programmable fun.
The app is Free* on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Cato’s Hike, iPad
Cato is a little boy who just like every little boy likes to go out and play. One fine day Cato was playing outside when a portal to another world opened up in front of him; a portal to another world!
Cato stepped through and discovered that this world unlike his own didn’t follow the same rules. Every time he tried to take a step or an action he’d find himself stuck in place. Stuck that is until he finally discovered the rules in this universe: by writing a program for himself he would be able to overcome all obstacles and learn something new along the way! A free, lite version of the game is also available, with limited progression allowed. Click here to view lite version in app store.
The app is £3.99* on the Apple App Store – Click here to view.
Suggested by Ms. Dutton below, ‘Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers!’ is an epic multiplayer robot combat game, where you learn the basics of coding while battling robots in both single and multiplayer missions. Victory is in the code! Although the app contains in-app purchases, Ms Dutton uses this app without those additional enhancements, “I just run 2 x 1 hour lessons using this app this week!”. For those teachers who are unsure how to use the app to support the teaching of coding, the developers have devised a Teachers Pack. This 29 page PDF pack is available to view by clicking here.
The app is free and available on the App Store – Click here to View.
The app is free and available on the Google Play Store – Click here to View.
Pythonista – iPad
Suggested by Ian Harcombe in the Disqus comments below, this clever app allows you to create interactive experiments and prototypes using multi-touch, animations, and sound – or just use the interactive prompt as a powerful calculator.
Pythonista is also a great tool for learning Python – The interactive prompt helps you explore the language with code completion, the entire documentation is accessible right within the app and you can get started with lots of ready-to-run examples.
Ian comments, ” I’ve connected from iPad to RaspberryPi and interacted with MinecraftPi using it”, so the potential of this app is clear to see.
The app is priced £4.99* and available from the Apple App Store by clicking here.
Music Droid – Android
Thanks to the suggestion in the Disqus comments below by Kieron Middleton, we now introduce Music Droid for Android to this growing list of apps to support confidence in developing coding skills. MusicDroid is a very challenging puzzle game designed especially for children to develop programming skills and those who enjoys coding & maths games. This is a free game that promotes educational programming skills, with the goal of the game is to power on the golden music plates and proceed to the next level (12 levels in total).
The app is free* and available from the Google Play Store by clicking here.
*All prices stated are correct at time of publication