- Fun and challenging
- Recurrent updates
- In-game incentives to continue playing
- 30-day free trial
- May require adult help
- Email is the only direct contact
Learning how to code is like learning a new language. So, it makes sense that the younger you start to study it, the easier it is to understand. Of course, the average 5-year-old won’t be able to write a specific programming language. Still, by learning the basics of coding, they can hone essential skills that will be a competitive advantage down the line when applying to college or for a job. codeSpark offers engaging games for kids from the age of five to nine that help develop basic problem-solving skills, logical thinking, creativity, collaboration, perseverance, and more. The best part is that your children won’t even notice they’re learning – it’s just fun! Prices start at $6.67 per month with an annual plan, and a subscription supports up to three users. It’s also possible to try out the app for free for 30 days by using our special coupon code.
codeSpark offers five different types of puzzles based on a research-backed curriculum from MIT and Princeton universities. Each puzzle comes with its own story, teaching objective, and dozens of levels. The games slowly become more challenging, to make sure the player doesn’t get frustrated. Your kid might start by giving basic instructions on how a policewoman should move to find a stolen donut, but they’ll be doing advanced sequencing, loops, events, and conditionals by the end of the fifth puzzle.
All games are explained without words. This way, kids who don’t know how to read yet will understand what they need to do. Even so, some levels are more intuitive than others. For example, you get an extra ability in the samurai levels that makes the character expand or shrink. However, the app doesn’t explain how to do the latter, and it took us a few minutes to understand this was also an option. In other words, parent supervision may occasionally be required.
codeSpark may offer more than 200 levels, but we all know this will only entertain a child for a few weeks – especially if they’re older and get through the games faster. That’s why the app comes with two extra modes. The Create mode allows players to come up with their own levels and stories. It’s recommended that your kid finishes all the levels first, as Create mode lets players use everything they’ve learned so far.
Meanwhile, the Explore mode offers other types of games that don’t necessarily follow the same structure as the main levels. Here, children can learn about automation, variables and inequalities, Boolean logic, and more.
Overall, the gameplay is smooth and intuitive. Most importantly, it’s fun! So, when your kid asks to use your smartphone, they’ll be happy to see codeSpark instead of YouTube or another less educational app. And don’t worry if your child has already finished the game. Depending on the way they conclude each level, they get a different score, which can unlock achievements and new avatars. This way, children will be happy to replay completed levels until they get the highest score.
Additionally, codeSpark comes with an in-game store where players can get new characters, animals, and actions, just to name a few. These extras are paid for with in-game coins (not actual money), gained by playing any of the game modes available.
codeSpark was initially developed for mobile and is available on Android and iOS. So, it’s not surprising that most movements are made by either tapping the screen or dragging the game elements. Overall, the software is responsive and runs smoothly. However, there are still a few minor bugs. For example, puzzles that have up to 20 levels divide the first ten on one page and 11-20 on a second. On one occasion in the browser version, we had completed the first page – unlocking the 11th level on the second page – and wanted to continue on mobile. Unfortunately, for some reason, the level was locked on mobile as if we hadn’t completed the 10th level, and the only way we were able to continue was to complete the 11th level in the browser version.
Even though codeSpark doesn’t require much configuration, parents should always visit their dedicated tab to go through the privacy settings. This is where you manage the device permissions, as well as whether your children can share their stories or upload them to codeSpark’s servers for backup. The app is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and all permissions are toggled off by default, so you don’t need to worry if you forget to check this.
codeSpark is available as a monthly or annual subscription. As usual, the longer you commit, the less you pay. While the monthly plan costs $9.99, you can save 33% by getting a yearly subscription. This option cuts the price to $6.67 per month. Bear in mind that the game is subscription-based because codeSpark is continuously developing new games and levels for the app. Plus, it allows three kids to play simultaneously as long as they’re using different devices.
Before you share your payment details, we recommend using our special coupon code to try out codeSpark for 30 days without spending a cent. This is enough time for you to test the app for yourself and see whether your child is actually interested in the games. And if your children turn out to love the games so much that they want a stuffed animal of their favorite character, codeSpark has a merch store.
Finally, public schools can implement codeSpark in their classrooms completely for free. This version of the app offers a dashboard so teachers can keep track of their students’ progress, set up classrooms, and more.
Considering that the only way to get direct support is via email, codeSpark’s customer service is nothing to write home about. You can reach the company on its website or in the app. One thing that we found strange is that the feedback button doesn’t disappear when a kid logs into the browser version unless it’s in full-screen mode. While a 9-year-old will understand enough to know that it’s not worth clicking on, a 5-year-old might do it just because they’re curious about what the orange button does. It’s also possible to contact codeSpark via social media, as the company is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Plus, if you leave a review in the App Store or Google Play, someone from codeSpark will eventually respond to you. Of course, you can also check out codeSpark’s FAQ page to find answers about billing and common technical problems.
In short, codeSpark is an excellent platform for your kids (or students) to get a grasp of the programming basics. The games are intuitive and a lot of fun – even adults may find themselves loving the cute and engaging levels. It’s obvious how the app helps children hone their problem-solving, logical-thinking, and creativity skills. So, it’s the perfect game to hand them when they ask for a bit of screen time. Unlike YouTube and other popular entertainment options, codeSpark takes advantage of kids having fun to increase their gray matter. You can get codeSpark for up to three kids for as little as $6.67 per month with an annual subscription, unless you’re a teacher who wants codeSpark in their classroom. In this case, codeSpark is completely free. Parents can also test codeSpark at zero cost for 30 days by taking advantage of our special coupon code.Visit codeSpark30-Day Free Trial