Libraries Ready to Code: Computer Science Resources for Libraries 1-17
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CategoryResourceDescriptionAgesCostReviews of resources and examples of resources in library programs Hour of Code tutorials
Analog resources
Analog resources are nontechnical, offline games and activities used for teaching and learning about computing and programming concepts. These resources can be introduced by those without a technical background, and are suitable for younger learners and others without prior coding experience. They do not require internet connectivity or computer access, and most are free or inexpensive.
Robot TurtleA board game inspired by the Logo programming language that teaches kids programming skills using playing cards.4 and up$18Tech for STEAM Learning, Play, and Programming, ALSC Blog,
Primo Cubetto A wooden robot that children can program by arranging physical coding blocks on a board. It also features a storybook and world map to expand activities.4 to 7$225"Never Too Young To Code," School Library Journal,
Robo RallyA board game that asks children to imagine they are super computers and race little robots around a factory floor, while avoiding different obstacles.12 and up$45International Games Day @ Your Library, Game Profile: RoboRally-Emergence From Procedure,
Code MasterA single-player programming logic game that uses scenario puzzles that introduces conditional statements and encoruages tracing programs.8 and up
CS UnpluggedA collection of activities designed to introduce coding concepts using crayons, cards, string, and movement. Project offered by the CS Education Research Group at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.6 and upFreeComputer Coding For Kids, Mansfield Richland County (OH) Public Library,
ThinkersmithOffers several activities and tutorials on that teaches coding using cups and cards instead of computers.all agesFreeSpark Labs 101: Coding, La Porte County (IN) Public Library,"My Robotic Friends" teaches programming without using computers. Working in groups, participants "program" their robotic friends to stack cups in different configurations by using arrows on paper.
Code.orgOffers “unplugged” activities that require no device or internet connection and features activites such as "Binary Bracelets," and "Paper Airplanes," to teach algorithms as well as tutorials from Kodable and Project Guts, among others.4 and upFreeCS Fundamentals Unplugged, are 30 "unplugged" Hour of Code activities for pre-readers and beyond that "beginners" can host.
WisCode LiteratiProvides access to kits to help kids learn coding concepts that do not require computers or prior experience including Table Top, Program a Friend, and Frogs & Cupcakes.FreeWisCode Literati's No Tech, a collection of kits and resources that require no technology or prior coding experience, See also, The Show Me Librarian, "Tabletop Coding, plus more resources for coding with kids from WisCode Literati,"
Physical computing
Physical computing combines digital code with materials objects to make abstract concepts concrete. These resources help to reach younger audiences as well as nontraditional groups by integrating programming concepts with other activities such as storytelling, sewing, and sculpting. They also introduce users to a broader spectrum of programmable components embedded in nearly every appliance and electronic device.
ArduinoA microcontroller (a small circuit board with a chip) featuring flexible software and hardware that can be programmed to perform a variety of functions. Starter kits with cables, guides, and accessories are available to begin a wide array of projects.8 and up$100Techsoup for Libraries, "Getting Started with Arduino: At the Library?," features resources and examples of library programs using Arduinos, including a workshop at Galion (OH) Public Library on Arduino Scratch Programming for Teens"Arduino Unplugged" created by Sparkfun and Bitbox features a "Digital Sandbox" that creates a virtual Arduino environment, and enables users to manipulate the microcontroller as if they had an actual Arduino in front of them.
LilyPad ArduinoA programmable microcontroller that can be stitched to fabric with conductive thread to create interactive garments and toys, designed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun. Kits and sample projects are available.
10 and up$20Kansas City Public Library held a E-Textiles: Soft Circuits Workshop for teens with materials provided by BestBuy. Materials used during the workshop are available here:
Raspberry PiA small, affordable, single-board computer designed to teach kids the basics of computer science. It plugs into a monitor and a keyboard, and can be used in a wide range of projects from word processing and browing the internet to allowing users to learn to program. Free resources, training opportunities, and details for meet up events are available on the website.8 and up$38 (Third Generation Model) and $5 (Raspberry Pi Zero)"First Appalachian Robotics Tech Saturday: Raspberry PI," at Bristol (VA) Public Library,

Raspberry Pi Towers offer 8 tutorials for beginner and intermediate users.
Snap Circuits, Jr. Offers a kit to learn basic principles of electronics and build working circuitry. 8 and up$35Rocky River (OH) Public Library highlights programs using Snap Circuits for different age groups, ALSC Blog, See also, "Snap Circuits: What Are They & How Can You Use Them in Programing?," Julie Binger, Mount Laurel (NJ) Public Library,
OzobotFeatures a small robot, Ozobot Bit, which can be programmed with OzoCodes by drawing lines and segments on paper using markers, or with OzoBlockly, a visual programming language by dragging-and-dropping block-based commands to create patterns and games.6 and up$59School Library Journal, "Tiny Ozobot Gets Kids into Block-based Programming," created 5 Hour of Code tutorials that do not require prior knowledge of coding or Ozobot. See also Hour of Code Robotics tutorials
SpheroA small and durable robotic ball that is programmable using drag-and-drop or script-based coding. It can be controlled using a smartphone or tablet using apps from Lightning Lab. 8 and up$130School Library Journal, "SLJ Reviews Sphero’s New Robot, SPRK+," resources introduce users to the capabilities of the Sphero robotic ball through short lessons.
DashA robot that responds to voice commands, movement, and other inputs from the environment. It can be programmed using block-based coding, including Blockly and Wonder among others, and controlled using apps on a smartphone or tablet. Dot, an add-on program, described as "the brain of the robot," can be used to create many more games.8 and up$150SLJ Reviews Kid-Friendly Robots Dash and Dot, School Library Journal, of Code with Dash & Dot
Bee BotA programmable robot designed for young children to learn directional language and basic programming through a sequence of turns.4 and up$100School Library Journal, "Never Too Young To Code," and Robot Test Kitchen, Bee Bot Reviews,
CubeletsAre modular robot blocks. Each block performs a specific function that can be combined in different ways to create different robots. They can be stacked together using the magnetic sides, extended with other brick-based construction sets such as Legos, or programmed using the app Cubelets Flash that uses a drag-and-drop C programming language. 4 and up$160Library programs and reviews of Cubelets from Robot Test Kitchen, See also See also, "Evaluating Potential Technology for a Makerspace: Cubelets, Little Bits, MaKey MaKey, Raspberry Pi, Sphero,"
LEGO EV3 MindstormFeatures a kit to build, program, and control a robot. The kit contains bricks, motors, and sensors to build different robot models. The robots can be programmed using the EV3 visual, drag-and-drop software and controlled using the app on a tablet or smartphone.10 and up$350Programming Librarian, "Program Model: Green City Robotics," describes a program in which students learn about sustainable living by building and programming Lego Mindstorm robots, of Code with LEGO EV3 Mindstorm
LEGO WeDo 2.0Features components to build LEGO models with working motors and sensors as well as software to program the models with a drag-and-drop interface. 7 and up$160"SLJ Reviews LEGO WeDo 2.0,"
Little BitsOffers an electronics platform with building blocks for users of all skill levels. The blocks are color-coded, magnetic, and reusable. Kits are available to build a variety of prototypes and add coding for additional functionality. 8 and up$200Teacher librarian, Colleen Graves, offers a "Librarian's Guide to LittleBits and STEAM," of Code activities from Little Bits
Makey MakeyA microcontroller built from the Arduino platform. It features a circuit board that connects to a computer via USB and turns nearly any object into a touch pad. It can be used without software, or can be combined with different coding platforms or hardware kits to extend its functionality. All ages$50Madison Public Library provides a How To Guide for using Makey Makey, "Makey Makey Revolution,"
Squishy CircuitsUses conductive and insulating play dough to teach the basics of electrical circuits. With hardware such as LEDs, motors, and battery holders, users can create sculptures that light up, move and make noises, among others features. 2 and up$10Voorheesville (NY) Public Library offers instructions for using Squishy Circuits in library programs, "Squishy Circuits –
Big Fun for Little Superheroes!"
Finch RobotA small robot that provides users a physical representation of their code. Finch supports a dozen programming languages and a wide range of computer science learning experiences. Developed by the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.5 and up$99Case study of San Jose Public Library's use of Finch Robots, See also, the book by Jason Ferrell of Wayne County Public Library, "Getting Started in Robotics," that covers using Finch with the Scratch programming language, Finch tutorials for pre-readers and up, see Hour of Code Robotics tutorials
Hummingbird Robotics Kit A kit to introduce robotics and engineering to kids featuring materials and components to make robots and other figures that can be programmed using a variety of languages including Scratch, Snap!, CREATE Lab Visual Programmer, Ardublock, and other text-based programs. The upcoming Hummingbird Duo kit will offer new capabilities with Arduino, creating an easier programming environment for kids ages 10 and up.13 and up$159Livermore (CA) Public Library held a 9-week Summer Robotics Camp for kids 10-14 using Hummingbird Robotics Kits, along with CMU Create Lab, Snap!, and Scratch, a Game with Hummingbird in Hour of Code Robotics tutorials
WisCode LiteratiOffers kits and resources for "Coding Physical Objects with OpenSCAD," "Google Coder for Rasberry Pi," "Mindstorm Programming," and "Programming a Sphero Robot."FreeWisCode Literati's High Tech, a collection of kits and resources that require intermediate technology skills and prior coding experience,
Coding clubs
Coding clubs offer face-to-face instruction and interaction with mentors and peers. Coding clubs located in libraries faciliate informal, social, and interest-based gatherings as well as provide access to public computers and the Internet. They can accommodate different ages and skills levels, and can be organized by library staff or in collaboration with local individuals or organizations.
PrendaOffers a free resource kit to help libraries set up and run a computer club program as well as a premium service that provides training, software, and support.8 to 18Free/Premium service (Fee-based)"State Library Brings Computer Programming to Kids All Across Arizona,"
Coder DojoOffers free guidance and resources to start programming clubs with coding mentors, called dojos, where kids can learn computer coding and explore technology. The site also provides learning resources and links to play or create games while learning to code.7 to 17Free"Springfield (VA): Richard Byrd Library’s CoderDojo a Success,"
Code Club WorldProvides project materials and other resources to establish after-school coding clubs for children.9 to 11FreeNorth Dakota State Library's Development Team, "More Coding Club Resources for Your Library,"
CS FirstLesson plans and materials from Google to hold an introductory coding event as well as theme-based coding clubs that explore computer science in different contexts and industries, such as storytelling, arts, sports, fashion, and game design among others. Activities use block-based coding from Scratch. 9 to 14Free"Queens Library Steps Forward with Google ‘Computer Science First’ Kid Club,"
Visual/block coding
Block-based coding bundles the complexity of programming syntax, or the instructions that computers follow, into visual blocks that users can drag and drop to combine and perform different functions. This allows users to focus on the concepts, or logic, of computer programming before learning the specific instructions and the set of rules for different programming languages.
Code.orgAn online platform offers courses through Code Studio, including an Intro to Computer Science course that uses Blockly, a visual, drag-and-drop programming language. It also offers "Hour of Code" tutorials to introduce users to computer programming concepts, and some feature popular figures or characters, such as Angry Birds or Moana from the new Disney movie. Additional resources for learning and teaching computer science are available from the site.4 and upFree"Blog: Hour of Code: How We Did It, What We Learned," Programming Librarian, are over 180 Hour of Code tutorials for educators and students.
ScratchA visual drag-and-drop programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT’s Media Lab. Users can create interactive stories, animations, as well as games and share them with others. 8 to 16FreeEducator resources and lessons are available on ScratchEd, See also "Coding for All: Hip-hop and Scratch in Libraries,""Make Music with Scratch" helps users get started with Scratch by making an interactive music project. One of several tutorials available through Hour of Code.
StencylA block-and-snap interface allows users to design games for smartphones, tablets, and computers. It builds on Scratch's interface and offers new functionality and flexibility with hundreds of ready-to-use blocks. It offers a kit and other resources for educators.Free for web"Make your own games!," Denver Public Library reviews tools to make your own video games,
Snap!A graphical, block-based programming language that builds on and extends Scratch by allowing users to create their own blocks among other capabilities. Developed by Jens Mönig and Brian Harvey at the University of California, Berkeley. 12 and upFreeSee, Livermore (CA) Public Library Summer Robotics Camp,
Pencil CodeA visual programming application, in its 5th iteration, allows learners to move between block coding and text-based code to create art, music, games, and stories. It offers tutorials and resources for teachers and students. Created by Google's David Bau and his son and supported by a growing a team of contributors. 8 and upFree"Hour of Code: Code Your Masterpiece in Seattle," using Pencil Code learn how to draw pictures, write music and create choose-your-own-adventure games, at Seattle Public Library, at Seattle Public Library,

"Recoloring the Universe" allows users without prior coding experience to create images and understand astronomical data.
MIT App Inventor 2A program that helps users to create and share mobile apps using a visual, drag-and-drop interface. Co-created by Google's Mark Friedman and MIT Professor Hal Abelson, the service is administered by the MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning. The site features tutorials, resources, and forums for community support. 12 and upFree"App Development for Kids!" at San Jose Public Library, using MIT App Inventor 2 learn how to create applications for mobile Android devices,"AppInventor Hour of Code" features short video tutorials that will allow users to build three simple apps for an Android phone or tablet.
KoduA visual programming language that teaches kids to create games for PCs and Xbox developed by Microsoft Research FuseLabs. A curriculum and additional resources are available online.10 and upFree PC games/ XBox ($5)"Gaming in Public Libraries: Kodu Game Lab," from SLIS at Wayne State University, offers resources and project ideas for summer programs,
AliceA visual, drag-and-drop programming language created at Carnegie Mellon University to teach programming through animating 3D objects. Users without prior experience learn programming concepts by creating animated movies and simple video games. Resources for teaching and learning about computational thinking and programming are available online. FreeChildren at the White Plains Public Library can learn the basics of computer programing with Alice, "Animating with Alice and Garfield" users will move from storyboards to programmable script to create a short 3D animation.
MinecraftA popular video "sandbox game" where users dig (mine) and build (craft) 3D blocks in a virtual world. Often compared to virtual Legos, the game doesn't offer rules or objectives; it can be played alone or with others. Users are free to build their worlds with resources discovered on the site or they can create their own "mods" or modifications using Java. An Education Edition ( was recently launched, and other stand-alone software, such as LearnToMod ( offer a block-based coding interface to help users, with or without coding skills, to create and share their mods and other enhancements for the Minecraft game.13 and up$27Many libraries use Minecraft to teach coding. One example includes Sonoma County Library that offers code camps,, and provides a curriculm and resources for other libraries to create their own Minecraft Coding Camps, Minecraft Hour of Code tutorials allow users to have an adventure or program animals and other creatures in their own version of Minecraft.
TwineAn online visual editor for creating interactive and nonlinear fiction in the style of choose your own adventure. No coding experience is necessary to create simple stories, but story features may be extended with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript.Free"It's Not Only Cuddling That Children Crave - It's Coding!," discusses the resources used at Oren Public Library to teach coding skills, including Twine among others,
Blockly GamesA sequence of activities built with Blockly to teach the basics of programming.Free
Made with CodeFor inspiration geared towards teen girls on pursuing careers in tech and for opportunities to try out coding, the Made with Code site features videos of real-life mentors who do amazing things with code. There are also a number of activities and resources on this site, including toolkit for planning a coding party.Free
Text-based coding/Javascript and HTML
Browser-based resources for learning Javascript and HTML.
BitboxA JavaScript tool that operates in a web browers to create mobile apps. The website features a simulated tablet and small text editor that users copy code into to create apps. Apps that are created in Bitbox are accessible on most mobile devices, and can be shared via email, text message, QR code, or web link.

7 and upFree for web"Everyone Can Code" by library media specialist, Casey Ince, reviewing her experience using BitBox with elementary students, Hour of Code tutorial allows users to code 5 mini apps using Javascript. Designed for beginners.
Khan AcademyProvides online video lectures, tutorials, and exercises on computer programming using JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and SQL.10 and upFreeSalmon Public Library (ID) used Khan Academy to offer an introductory programming course to children aged 7-17, Khan Academy Hour of Code tutorials allow users to draw a snowman with Javascript, create a greeting card with HTML/CSS, or design a store with SQL.
Free Code CampFeatures self-paced courses and tutorials on JavaScript, online community support, and helps users gain experience by working on projects for non-profits. Additional tools are being developed for educators. Teens and upFreeFree Code Camp is completely free, and users are encouraged to use public library computers and locations for meetups. See also, "Sheridan resident launches free coding classes," The Sheridan Press,
Code PenAn online code editor for JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and other languages, where users can write small pieces of code to test and to share with others.10 and upFree, and Pro plan ($75 per year);
ThimbleAn online code editor from the Mozilla Learning Network that helps users learn to code using Javascript, HTML, and CSS, by making a new version of existing web projects.13 and upFree
Code CombatA game that players can win by writing code in JavaScript and Python.9 and upFree intro sessions (1-3 hours)Lynn Public Library (MA) holds periodic Codecombat workshops as part of its Marker Monday series, CodeCombat Hour of Code allows users to choose a hero and begin to code their way through the game.
WisCode LiteratiOffers kits and resources for teaching HTML and CSS and JavaScript.Teens and upFreeWisCode Literati's High Tech, a collection of kits and resources that require intermediate technology skills and prior coding experience,
Text-based coding in multiple languages
Computer-based resources for learning a variety of coding languages.
CodecademyAn online platform offers self-paced courses in several programming languages including Python, JavaScript, Ruby, JQuery, PHP, HTML and CSS. Free, and Pro plans ($16+)New York Public Library lists Codecademy among its resources for its Website Coding Starter Kit, Hour of Code tutorial includes quizzes, slides, and a project that users complete by the end of the session.
TreehouseAn online education platform provides videos and tutorials to teach a variety of programming languages, project-based curriculums, and an integrated code editor for students to practice writing code. Free trial, plans ($25 per month)Louisville (KY) Free Public Library uses Treehouse to deliver content covering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as part of Code Louisville. The program, offered with support from local partners, offers a series of 12-week coding sessions to help students pursue a career in software development,
LyndaAn online learning platform offers training videos and tutorials on a dozen computer languages and topics. Also, features an online coding environment that allows users to practice within the course, without downloading or installing any software.Free trial, plans ($19+ per month)Many libraries have a subscription to the online learning service, and often provide access through the library portal so patrons can access the courses from home. Kansas City Public Library created Learning with Lynda to help young users discover the many free online resources available to them. Users must follow a series of steps to access the resource and complete one tutorial to complete the task and earn a badge,
Coding with ChromeProvides a quick and easy way to learn to program on a Chrome browser, online and offline. In Blockly, Pencil Code, LEGO EV3, Arduino, Javascript, or HTML/JS/CSS. FreeVideo tutorials: and
GreenfootA grid-based system with numerous prebuilt scenarios that use Java to make the worlds run.FreeThere is an existing text book for Greenfoot, an active user community, and numerous tutorials and examples available.
JerooIf all the option in Greenfoot and Alice are daunting, Jeroo provides some relief. It is a simple 2D world with just a few items that can be programmed in a syntax similar to Python, Java, or VB.FreeNumerous resources are avialable at the web site including a set of activities, a full reference manual, and a pointer to published papers.
Karel the RobotThe granddaddy of them all. Karel has been a Gentle Introduction to Programming since the 1980s. Fortunately, he has been updated over the years.Free (but some places like NC Labs do seem to charge)
Tablet and mobile apps
Resources for learning programming concepts on tablets and smartphones.
ScratchJrAn introductory programming language, inspired by the programming language Scratch, and designed for younger children. The block coding app allows children to program their own interactive stories and games. Developed in collaboration with the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company. 5 to 7Free"Turn STEM into STEAM: Storytelling with ScratchJr," School Library Journal,"Can I Make the Sun Set?" is an introductory activity for children to learn the basic features of ScratchJr and the elementary concepts of coding.
KodableA block coding app teaches basic programming concepts and problem solving skills through a game. A curriculm for elementary students also is available from Kodable. 5 and upFree"2014 Best Apps for Teaching & Learning, Kodable," The American Association of School Librarians,"Kodable Programming Lessons for Kids" is a self-guided game that introduces kids, pre-readers and up, to programming basics.
The Foos: Code HourA block coding app developed by codeSpark Academy. A coding game that introduces users to computer science and coding skills as they play. Using the visual interface, kids program characters in Fooville to move in different ways to complete over 40 different puzzels. A "toy box" area is also available where kids can experiment using the block coding language.4 to 9FreeThe Orange County Library System uses The Foos to teach basic coding and problem solving skills, "The Foos" kids program the Foo characters to solve puzzels or create their own games in Foo Studio.
HopscotchA block coding app to learn programming basics while building games and animations and sharing them with an online community. 10 and upFree"Hopscotch App Introduces Kids to Block Programming," School Library Journal, create their own version of the game Geometry Jumper in Hopscotch, and learn concepts like sequence, loops, variables, and debugging.
Daisy the DinosaurAn introductory visual programming app, from the makers of Hopscotch, that introduces young children to computer programming. Children learn basic command and programming concepts as they move around Daisy. 5 to 8Free"From Scratch to Tynker: Tools to Teach Kids How to Code," provides screencast tutorials several coding apps including Daisy the Dinosaur, School Library Journal,
TynkerAn app and website that uses code blocks and teaches coding logics through games. The app also features puzzels that work with devices such as the Sphero and Ollie robots, and offers a sandbox where kids can use the block code to create their own games.7 to 14FreeSee article above, "From Scratch to Tynker: Tools to Teach Kids How to Code." "Spin Draw Animation" allows users to create a rotating version of an image. One of several Tynker Hour of Code tutorials available.
Swift PlaygroundsAn iPad app from Apple to help users without prior coding experience learn the Swift programming language by solving interactive puzzles. Users also are able to experiment with the code, create their own programs, and share their creations with others. 12 and upFree"Swift Playgrounds: Not Just Another Coding App," School Library Journal,"Build an iPhone game in your browser!" users learn to code by creating a Pokemon-inspired game using the new programming language Swift.
Bee-BotAn iPad app helps children improve their skills in programming and directional language as they move the Bee-Bot in a series of turns. 3 to 5FreeBee Bot Review, Ed Shelf,
LightBotVideo game apps that teaches concepts of computer programming and coding to solve animated puzzles that increase in difficulty.4 to 8 and 9 and upFreeUsers program LightBot to light up all the blue tiles in the game.
Lightbot 2More of the above, with functions and recursion9 and up?Free
Scratch BlocksStill in development. Scratch Blocks is a new development project for the next generation of graphical programming blocks, based on a collaboration between Google and MIT’s Scratch Team — building on Google’s Blockly technology and informed by the Scratch Team’s expertise in developing creative learning tools for young people. Scratch Blocks will provide a framework for building programming blocks in both vertical (text-based) and horizontal (icon-based) formats.Free
BlocklyStill in development. Developer previews of Blockly running natively on iOS and Android demonstrate improved performance and tighter integration with platform UI frameworks. In addition to standard features, Blockly for iOS includes experimental support for multitouch capabilities and block animations. Blockly for Android provides deep support for Fragments and UI customization.Free
TickleLearn to program LEGO, Star Wars BB-8, Arduino, robots, connected toys, and smart home devices, all wirelessly. Tickle is the only platform that connects all your devices together so that they can interact with each other!
Tickle is easy to learn, yet incredibly powerful. Peek under the hood to see your code in Swift 3.0, the world's fastest growing programming language!