Sure, computer science counts toward high school graduation requirements in Oregon (as well as 31 other states)—but computing is more than merely a school subject. Computer coding, in particular, builds sequential thinking and logic that transfer over to how students engage their world. So why not expose students to computer coding early through free apps, especially when there is a smart device handy?

With that in mind, here are 5 free apps to teach your child how to program.


Android, iPad

Coding uses a language—and that language doesn’t always need words! ScratchJr uses block-based programming to engage visual learners and children working on their reading and writing. This app is a fantastic introduction into the world of Scratch, the free programming language and online community by MIT Media Lab.


Android, iPad

Is this free app a game, or is it a coding language? Neither, really. Users write increasingly difficult ‘programs’ to control a robotic arm that moves crates. When given a tough challenge, your child will break it into specific tasks and then test working solutions. So rather than teach a coding language, Cargo-Bot uses gaming to teach the concepts behind programming.


Android, iOS

SoloLearn isn’t just an app, but rather a series of apps for popular coding languages. The most in-demand languages like C++, Java, and Python are structured as a separate course within each app. Plus, users gain levels and XP (experience), which adds to the fun for gamers.

Khan Academy

Android, iOS

Khan Academy is the non-profit organization and learning platform that many already know as a standards-based way to learn math at any level. But it also shines in its approach to computer coding, and learning from the app carries right over to the browser. Use the free Khan Academy app to learn coding for managing data, programming games, and writing interactive webpages—and perhaps even brush up on math concepts in your spare time.

Code Studio

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This one isn’t an app—but stick around for the best part. is the non-profit behind Code Studio, a series of 20-hour courses for ages 4-18. Parts of these courses are used during Hour of Code, a weeklong event to bring coding instruction to schools worldwide. And by the end of these courses, students can use Code Studio’s App Lab to design and share their very own apps. That’s the best part: Your child learns to program for free in order to become a creator rather than a consumer.