I often get asked what are the best apps for teaching students how to code in a 1:1 iPad environment. The following information is a guide to what I consider the best apps to teach students how to code in primary school.
Bee Bots have been used by educators for quiet some time and they continue to be a great starting point for teaching students how to code. The Bee Bot app is no different I think it is a great beginner app and is suitable to be introduced at the jnr primary stages. Bee Bot is great for developing directional language and is supported with great resources. Bee Bot also have another app called Bee Bot Pyramid it has harder challenges and is a good progression from Bee Bot.
Scratch Jnr is one the great open ended coding apps available in the IOS market suitable for years F-2 however years 3-4 will also enjoy. Students learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively. Scratch Jnr is a great app to demonstrate students understating in literacy and numeracy through story telling.
CODESPARK ACADEMY WITH - THE FOOS
The Foos crosses the boundary of being a really fun game that includes great computation thinking and problem solving. You can now create teacher, parent and student accounts to track progression and achievement. The Foos includes game based puzzles exploring the following fundamentals of coding; Sequencing, loops, events and conditionals.
Kodable is a game based app to develop students knowledge of coding. Teachers can create classes and invite students to join via a unique code. Levels within Kodable provide experiences for students to learn about sequences, loops, functions, conditions, strings, instances. Students unlock levels of difficulty as they progress through the game. The Kodable website also has great teacher support materials and lesson ideas. I would suggest looking through online material before implementing this app in your classroom as it has some very good resources to introduce the app and stimulate excitement around coding and the app itself.
Run Marco is very similar to Kodable and covers a lot of the same principles of code. What separates this app from Kodable and Bee Bot are that the challenges are slightly harder. Run Marco is also available in multiple languages making it a good choice for teachers with EAL (English as an Additional Language) Students. They will be able to participate in their native language.
TYNKER FOR SCHOOLS
Tynker For Schools is a flexible app for student to learn coding and suitable for all ages right up into secondary school age. Tynker For Schools has great coding games with walkthrough levels to build competence and difficulty. Once students are ready they can create and code their own projects including games, animations, art, music, story telling, physics games, apps, mod Minecraft, you can even program accessories such as Spheros and drones. In my opinion Tynker For Schools is an essential app for teachers wanting to implement coding into the curriculum.
A free version of Tynker is also available however it doesn't have all the features and is limited. Tynker Free is a good starting point and you will be able to see the potential of this app and then invest in the school version at a later stage.
Tynker also has a free online browser supported version that is worth checking out if you don't have iPads. Teachers can create accounts and students sign up to join the teachers class. The free version is limited and a paid subscription is required to unlock all the course material and features.
HOPSCOTCH FOR SCHOOLS
The next progression from Scratch Jnr when it comes to open ended coding apps. Let your students imagination and creativity go wild with endless options and cross curricula possibilities. Hopscotch is one of the best apps available on IOS to demonstrate students computational thinking and coding skills. Students of any age will love this app.
There are two versions of Hopscotch a paid version called "Hopscotch For Schools" Which has all the features unlocked while "Hopscotch Free" has all the same coding features just not all the characters and objects available.
Hopscotch For Schools also allows teachers to create a "crew" or classroom students can be invited to join via a unique code. Teachers will be able to view the projects of students who join their "crew".
Tickle is a great app for programming robots, drones and smart toys using a familiar drop and drag interface. I especially like to use the Tickle app for programming Spheros. Tickle is an app that would also be suitable for secondary age students.
However there is a feature not many use and that is the Orca. It is very similar to Hopscotch and provides great learning opportunities. It is definitely worth a look.
The Tickle app also offers some online courses to assist teachers and students to learn how to program and how to get started.
Lightbot is a similar app to Run Marco & Kodable however the puzzles are more challenging. Lightbot includes all the same principals of coding including loops, procedures, sequencing and conditionals. There are over 50 levels and 20 challenges to complete.
I also like that this app has the function to create multiple user accounts on the same iPad. This makes is great for classrooms that share iPads.
Lightbot is also available in multiple languages making it a good choice for teachers with EAL (English as an Additional Language) Students. They will be able to participate in their native language.
Code Warriors has quickly become one of my favourite game based apps to learn coding. Students graduate through the ranks by completing challenges and demonstrating their capabilities. As students progress through the app so does the level of coding required. Students learn gradually through playing the game with the final outcome being students writing code to execute their warriors battle plan. This app is also suitable for students in secondary school years 7-9.
Swift Playgrounds was launched this year with Apples release of IOS 10. Swift is the language used to develop IOS apps and it at the core of how your iPad and iPhone operate.
Swift playgrounds is the ultimate coding app available to students on their iPad. The Swift Playground community are providing excellent resources to support teachers and students learn how to code in Swift. I have been extremely impressed with this app and the endless possibilities it provides students, they will be creating engaging games and apps that will leave you awe struck!
Swift Playgrounds has a variety of tutorials from beginner to advanced which will assist your implementation of Swift coding into the digitech curriculum. Check out my blog post about the launch of Swift Playgrounds including the keynote of its world wide release.
Please note Swift Playgrounds is only available on IOS 10 and iPad Air's and iPad mini 2 upwards.