Plus there are websites like Tynker where you can build games. And there’s even a fun service, Bitsbox, that delivers every month a bunch of games you can code and play.
Here are a few ideas to investigate. There are many more in the links at the bottom of this article.
Kids learn to code by making games on the Bitsbox.com website then play them on their phone or tablet. The games are quite clever with fun bright graphics. And it’s easy for kids to adapt the code once they figure out the game, to learn and become comfortable with code. As an adult, I had a lot of fun poking around their games. And it was a blast to get their box in the mail each month. Ages 5 and up.
If you are self-sufficient, don’t mind looking up help, and like to take things apart, Codea is an iPhone and iPad app to create games. You can adapt existing code or create from scratch. The app has lots of game functionality with few limits on what you can create. The experience is similar to coding with a real programming language. Indeed, Codea lets you code with Lua, a scripting language often used in real world games. Ages 10+.
One of my favorite apps, for its simplicity, this iPhone and iPad app uses blocks you drag and drop to create effects. Blocks are customized to do different things. It has a strong community of kids who often come up with creative ways to make games and have fun. Ages 5+
Many US kids are familiar with Tynker in their classrooms because it was developed with the help of teachers and school districts, to meet their curriculum standards. Similar to Scratch and Hopscotch, Tynker is a block language where you drag and drop blocks then configure the blocks to do things. The main virtue of block languages apply here: it’s easy and fun to move blocks around, find sprite images, and make the blocks do things. Ages 5+
Move the Turtle
Geared towards little kids, this game lets you move a turtle around the screen by setting direction and the number of steps to create artwork and solve problems. With a little help to get started, most kids will figure it out. The game teaches basic coding ideas and sets them up nicely for block languages like Scratch, Hopscotch, and Tynker. Ages 5+
Bitsbox Teachers Guide/Mailing List