Coding for Kids Ages 5-8

Image by Run Marco!

Ideas for most young kids (and their families), from board games and more offline options to online games and apps.

Kids ages 5-8 obviously will not design and code software. However, they are old enough to be introduced to concepts in a fun way that may or may not lead to future exploration of programming and computer science. These coding options for kids ages 5-8 are listed from those that do not require computers — and can be played with family — to offline and online options for kids who want to work alone. Links are at the bottom of this article.

Board Games

For kids who enjoy group activities, especially with siblings and parents, there are a number of fun board games. Robot Turtles, for example, teaches basic programming concepts by letting kids draw cards then tell others what to do, as if they’re the programmer and others are the code.

Code Monkey Planet is by the same team that makes Robot Turtles. CodingFarmers has two modes for playing, a basic mode where kids learn by following instructions to complete tasks and a Java mode where instructions are written in Java.

Card Games

Card games work in a similar way as board games but in a more basic fashion. littleCodr, for example, lets you tell other players what to do. With Bits and Bytes kids try to get their program to Planet Ram and past evil bugs.

CS Unplugged

A great way to introduce kids to computer science is by ditching computers. Computer Science Unplugged is a free curriculum created by teachers and researchers for kids. Activities are hands on and make it easy for teachers and parents to engage kids in a learning dialogue. Materials are easily found at home or school.

Lauren Ipsum

This imaginative book explains computer science concepts in an often wacky way similar to Alice in Wonderland. Teachers, parents, and kids will have to stop and re-read the text to realize they’ve learned a key concept used in computer science and computing.

Computational Fairytales

Like Lauren Ipsum, the Computational Fairytales and Best Practices of Spell Design books present computer science ideas in a fun offbeat way almost anyone can grasp. A third book will be released in July 2016.

Online Coding Games

There are a number of online games that work within your web browser, for example, The Foos, Run Marco!, and Tynker. In addition to fun games, Tynker also has a full curriculum for elementary schools. Kids learn by playing through levels that become more difficult. Kids can stop when they feel comfortable.

Coding Apps

For kids who mostly like to work alone, Hopscotch, Move the Turtle, and similar apps are a fun way to figure out the basics of coding on their own, with the ability to ask others for help if they get stuck.

Learn More

Coding Board Games

Coding Card Games

Computer Science (CS) Unplugged

Lauren Ipsum Book

Computational Fairytale Books

Online Coding Games

Coding Apps


  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

Also In The February 2016 Issue

Ideas for most young kids (and their families), from board games and more offline options to online games and apps.

Computers can be programmed to make intelligent decisions. Does that make a computer intelligent?

The many pieces that make up AI have been built and used for thousands of years in many cultures.

Math circles are groups of students who come together to have fun discussing and solving intriguing math questions.

Unit testing tests a set of code with data to test with the code and details about how the code is used and operated upon.

There are several places to go online to play classic video games like Donkey Kong and Castlevania.

How we manage limited resources and share costs is an important question far beyond software development.

For twenty years, since 1996, cars have used computers to control different parts of the car.

Danny Fenjves currently is the founder of Upperline, teaching students how to turn their ideas into reality through programming.

This Computational Fairy Tale explains how loops work through the sad tale of Simon, the hapless apprentice to a blacksmith.

Links from the bottom of all the February 2016 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for February 2016.

Interested but not ready to subscribe? Sign-up for our free monthly email newsletter with curated site content and a new issue email announcement that we send every two months.

No, thanks!