At SchoolSphero Team
Block coding is a great way for kids, teens, and beginners of any ability to learn the foundations of programming.

Block coding in many ways is an ideal pathway into tech development for kids. Block coding has been a breakthrough in introducing new learners core coding skills in an easy-to-grasp manner. 

For a long time, in order to code there was some element of an age-based barrier to entry. New coders would need to hunker down and learn a coding language like JavaScript or Python to begin their journey. JavaScript and Python, as well as other pillar languages like C++, are text-based and professional-level programming tools.

Traditional coding requires knowledge of complex terminology that accompanies the tech world, along with other soft skills, like memorization and rigorous accuracy, for learners to be successful. This is not the easiest skill set for kids below high school age, or for most people, to be fair. 

Block coding flips everything on its head. Rather than introducing new coders to text-based programs, block coding takes a visual approach. By using colorful, easy-to-use “blocks” kids can experience the rewards of building a creative new project, without many of the intricacies presented by text-based languages. 

With block coding, educators—and/or parents—can introduce the wonders of coding into their curriculum earlier, hopefully setting up an interest in future STEM subjects or even a career. 

The Pros and Cons of Block Coding

With most tech, many of the tools’ advantages are also the source of that tool’s limitations. Block coding is no different. While it is an easier way to interact with and learn code, it has some shortcomings when it comes to using it for more complex projects. 

Block Coding Advantages

  • Diversity: There are projects that can be completed by 5-7-year-olds as well as projects challenging enough for high schoolers.
  • Accessible: Unlike learning most coding languages there are no baseline requirements for understanding technical syntax. 
  • Ease: Perhaps the most obvious advantage of block coding is that it presents an opportunity to begin learning immediately.
  • Fun: Many block coding programs are designed with kids in mind, making them engaging and entertaining.

Block Coding Disadvantages

  • Prepackaged: Users are unable to edit the source code inside of blocks. This could lead to some fencing around advanced users’ creative parameters
  • Limited: Users who learn fast and do not have access to additional coding outlets could be frustrated by the inability of block coding to go beyond certain depths. 
  • Coddling: Because it is designed for ease of use, graduating from block coding to text-based coding could feel like a jarring adjustment to some. 

Examples of Block Coding Websites and Apps

Scratch and ScratchJr

Scratch is one of the most used websites for developing block coding and visual programming skills. Since its creation at MIT in 2003, Scratch has been made available in 70 languages and has created partnerships with other big names like LEGO. Meanwhile, the ScratchJr branch is designed specifically for kids ages 5-7. 

Code Karts

Geared toward new coders around the ages of 5 to 11, Code Karts lets kids design a racetrack, and using coding concepts, “drive” a kart through the track. Because of its game-based goals—and similarity to the concept of Mario Kart-–Code Karts is an easy sell to many kids. 


Stencyl is an app that lets kids design their own simple 2-D video games. While the end product’s graphics quality may not be up to par with what kids these days grow up with—Stencyl games will look like original Pokemon, Mario, or other Gameboy games from the 90s—the pride of creating their own game will be more than enough of a reward for young coders. 

How to Use Block Coding in Education

Block coding isn’t only effective as a means of learning virtually—it also has a big impact in in-person classes. By breaking down complicated concepts into digestible, tangible pieces, students can more easily absorb and remember information. A block coding mentality also instills iterative processes into young learners, whereby they recognize the value of quick, agile creating and testing and can better measure the outcomes of their changes.

For example, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) classes could integrate block coding with Sphero robots with the Scratch-powered Blocks canvas in the Sphero Edu app. Robots like Sphero BOLT or RVR+ can be programmed to perform certain tasks. 

The Sphero Spirograph program asks kids to program a robot’s head to turn in a repeated pattern. The BOLT robots can be programmed to pass through a maze in the smoothest manner. BOLT robots can also be programmed to swim across a pool of water

The construction and programming of these tools take place in small stages that clearly link to one another and demonstrate the power of block coding.

Block Coding for Kids

The possibilities for building things with text-based coding are endless. However, for kids, the complexity, attention to detail, and background knowledge required to use a language like JavaScript, Python, or C++ can be enough to intimidate them or discourage their interest in coding entirely.

While block coding won’t be sending anyone to Mars, it can and will engage younger learners. By instilling the basics of coding through achievable tasks that quickly show the results of their work, kids can begin their coding journey with minimal frustration and maximum excitement. 

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