Over the past three years, I have worked with hundreds of librarians, staff and educators to launch code clubs – weekly meetings where people learn to code in an informal, self-guided way. The facilitators of these code clubs differ in many ways – appearance, interests, background, and job description. But they share one surprising characteristic: they are not computer programming experts!

You might wonder how thousands of kids, teens and adults could be learning to code without the experienced oversight of a professional software developer.

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The short answer is that all the content needed to learn to code is available for free on the internet. Gone are the days of verbally transmitting information from the teacher to the student. Instead, learners find the information they need in the form of websites, blog posts, videos, articles, tutorials, and interactive exercises. Not only do these tools allow each student to learn what they want at the pace they are comfortable with, but they also lead to much more efficient learning than the traditional lecture format.

But many people don’t know where to find these amazing resources. Look no further! After years of trial and error, and collaborations with scores of inspirational and informative people, we have compiled this list of the best learn-to-code resources available on the internet.

Paper/offline resources

  • CS Unplugged (free download for ages 8-18) is a collection of in person activities designed to introduce coding concepts.
  • code: deck ($10 purchase for adult developers) is a card game to reinforce concepts.

Tablet apps

  • Scratch Jr (free, ages 3-8) allows block coding without requiring any reading.
  • Kodable (first 8 weeks free, grades K-5) is a block coding app.
  • The Foos (free app, ages 5-10) provides a block-based Hour of Code
  • Hopscotch (part free, part paid, ages 3-8) is a block coding app.
  • Tynker (100 free puzzles, more paid) is a block coding app.
  • Swift playgrounds (free, 8+) is an iPad app from Apple to teach iOS programming.

Block coding for computer

  • Code.org (free, ages 8+) provides high quality coding puzzles and videos.
  • Scratch (free, ages 8+) is an open platform for games and animations.
  • Stencyl (free for web, $199/year for ios) is a block game design tool with surprising flexibility.
  • Pencilcode (free, ages 8+) allows block coding projects.
  • MIT App Inventor (free, ages 12+) provides an environment for block coding of mobile apps.
  • Thunkable (free to start, ages 12+) is similar to MIT App Inventor with a simpler interface and more support.

Javascript and HTML (Web dev) coding for computer

  • Bitsbox (free tool, paid supplemental materials, ages 10+) is a simplified javascript tool for fun, visual mobile app design.
  • Khan Academy (free website, ages 10+) provides tutorial videos, lessons and challenges in a visual simplified javascript.
  • Free Code Camp (free, teens and adults) includes 1000+ hours of curriculum for motivated self-learners, with the objective of entry level web developer jobs.
  • Codepen (mostly free, 10+) is an online code editor for front end projects, with handy aids and sharing features.
  • Thimble (free, 13+) is a Mozilla-sponsored online text editor.
  • Code Combat (freemium, 13+) is a video game you win by writing javascript code.

Computer-based coding in multiple languages

  • Codecademy (part free, $20/month pro for teens and adults) provides self-guided tutorials in many languages.
  • Treehouse ($25/month for teens and adults) provides videos and tutorials in a variety of programming languages.
  • Lynda ($20/month for teens and adults) provides videos and other materials.
  • Codefights (mostly free, 13+) is a fun competition forum for honing skills.

Mobile apps to practice coding

  • Lrn (part free, teens and adults) helps you memorize javascript syntax through Duolingo-style quizzes on the phone.
  • Swifty (free to start, $2.99 for everything, teens and adults) is the same as Lrn for iOS programming.

Hopefully you will find this list helpful. Did I miss anything? Put it in the comments or send me an email at kelly at prenda dot co.

Happy coding!

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Code Club

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Code Club

We've helped over 500 librarians and teachers get a code club up and running. Learn what resources we use, our learning philosophy, and tips and tricks in this guide. We've pulled out all the punches and have put together an incredibly valuable resource for you.

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