Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks

Common Sense Media says

Fun coding puzzler helps kids ease in to complex concepts.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Kids need to be independent readers, but the drag-and-drop puzzles slowly build in difficulty so kids will grow into the challenge. Kids get multiple chances to complete a puzzle if they make a mistake.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The free version includes one puzzle with the others available as in-app purchases. The full version includes all the puzzles.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

On the website, the privacy policy outlines the personal and nonpersonal information collected, and an accompanying link offers tips on kids and online safety. Kids can play the Hour of Code games without entering any personal information. If they create a game and share it online, they're encouraged to create a username that isn't their real name. Within the app kids can use their Web accounts to save their creations.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks brings elements of the well-respected website Tynker to the iPad. The simple drag-and-drop interface of the iPad makes exploring programming logic even easier for elementary school-age kids. A free version lets kids try one puzzle and then purchase others individually or all as an in-app purchase. Alternatively, the full version can be bought as well. Kids can replay levels if they fail, with hints to improve their "code." Kids need to be independent readers since instructions are written.

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • problem solving
  • strategy
  • thinking critically

Communication

  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The story-based puzzles are fun, and kids are motivated to keep playing to unlock other levels and earn stars. Positive feedback encourages them.

Learning Approach

Every move made reinforces programming concepts, giving kids skills that can transfer into coding. Coding logic is increasingly considered an important literacy skill for kids, and Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks helps kids pick up that skill.

Support

If kids don't complete a level successfully, a help screen explains what they can do differently or more efficiently. Kids can access help if needed, and each level can be replayed as many times as necessary. All instructions are given in writing, so kids have to be independent readers. 

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • problem solving
  • strategy
  • thinking critically

Communication

  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn the concepts and logical thinking involved with computer programming. They'll develop spatial reasoning, work on geometric principles, and learn about programming concepts such as conditional statements, loops, and sequencing. They'll learn to use the most efficient commands to create clean programs. In the digital age, programming skills are considered an important aspect of literacy that everyone needs to effectively use and understand technology. Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks is a great building block to get kids interested in programming and help them understand the concepts involved.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

TYNKER - LEARN PROGRAMMING WITH VISUAL CODE BLOCKS starts kids off using simple programming logic as they drag and drop visual code blocks, which are basically building blocks that fit together with written explanations of what code does. Kids don't see the code at all, but they apply the concepts programmers use when coding. Each level gets a bit more challenging and introduces concepts such as conditionals (if/then statements) and looping. Successfully completing one level unlocks the next. Themed puzzles are “Codey’s Quest,” "Lost in Space," "Dragon Journey," and "Lazer Racer."

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks uses an approach similar to other programming-logic apps for kids, making programming accessible using visual blocks of code or commands. The story-based puzzles make it fun for kids, and the drag-and-drop moves and explanations make it easy for kids to pick up. The different puzzle themes are varied and will appeal to a broad range of novice coders. It doesn't include the depth offered at Tynker.com, though, where kids complete 16 lessons and have the opportunity to create their own programs, but it's more affordable than the Web subscription. Kids will have fun learning how programs work and thinking like programmers, and they'll develop skills that are increasingly important in the digital age.

Families can talk about...

  • Explain to kids that the visual blocks represent code that instructs the program what to do. In your browser window, right-click and choose "inspect element" or "view page source" to show kids what actual code looks like.

  • Once kids understand the logic involved with programming, let them play around writing their own programs at Code.org, using tools such as Raspberry Pi, or with apps such as Codea.

App details

Devices:iPad, Android
Price:Free-$4.99
Pricing structure:Free, Paid
Release date:May 6, 2014
Category:Education
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice, Space and aliens
Size:81.50 MB
Publisher:Tynker
Version:1.4
Minimum software requirements:iOS 6.0 or later

This review of Tynker - Learn programming with visual code blocks was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Educator Written byMrs. Reed November 23, 2014
AGE
6
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Tynker - Learn to Code Using Visual Blocks - Watch out for the weapons

This app is extremely well written and kiddos will enjoy it. Creating your own projects is amazing to see how creative kids can get telling their story while learning to code. Using the free app's create your own project option, the new character creator offers weapons a child can select under accessories. Please be aware of the space gun (very similar to an automatic gun), revolver and sword. If the weapons were removed, or at least the space gun turned into a lightsaber, I would use this app in elementary school classrooms to teach computer programming in a fun and engaging way.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Kid, 10 years old May 10, 2015
AGE
5
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Great start to Programming

Tynker is a great place to start programming because it takes you step by step. Once you finish the tutorial you can do it yourself!
What other families should know
Easy to play/use

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools